Private Homes \ Abbotsford Park, Edinburgh

The relationship between this large Victorian semi-detached house and its rear garden was unfortunate, with no direct route between the two. A utility room divided the elevation while the kitchen had been added onto the side elevation. We were asked to make sense of the rear of the house by providing a formal dining room, which it lacked and a large family kitchen. Our solution was to demolish the existing kitchen and to replace it with a much larger extension incorporating a linear kitchen work top along the north wall (but lit by a south facing roof light) which can serve both formal and informal dining areas equally. The remainder of the space incorporates at the garden end a hearth/TV area, family dining area and a pantry, utility, WC.

The expressed steel construction allows most of the walls to be free of a load bearing function - one corner opens out to the garden with a south elevation opening to a new patio. In addition to the windows "disappearing" as seen when open from the inside the room can also be completely closed down by an internal system of insulated timber shutters. Insulated sections of the ceiling can similarly be winched down to seal off the clerestorey and kitchen rooflight. In this way the skin of the building appears to have three manifestations - totally open, totally opaque and transparent responding both to changing climate and, more subtly, to the changing psychological responses that the seasons provoke. Externally the roof continues to form a shaded terrace with all roof drainage using a hanging chain. The north wall is in lead offered up to the stonework at either end with small windows created by the discontinuities between the two materials.

The project was completed in 1996. 

Architects Richard Murphy, Edward Hollis, Lesley Dell
Engineers David Narro
Contractor Inscape Joinery
Construction Cost £60,000
Client Dr and Mrs Palmer


1997 EAA Silver Medal Award
1998 RIBA Award


Autumn 2001 Winning Design 25 Beautiful Kitchens
14 February 1998 Back In The Fold The Guardian
Autumn 1997 Room At The Back Signet
March 1997 Abbotsford Project Perspectives
18 February 1997 EAA Award The Scotsman
February 1997 In The Family Way RIBA Journal
26 January 1997 Preaching To The Converted The Sunday Times
November 1996 The Architectural Legacy Of Stephen Lawrence The Observer
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