Old Fishmarket Close Housing, Edinburgh

This private housing project was won in an invited competition and takes as its starting point and inspiration the famous 1647 aerial map of the Old Town of Edinburgh by James Gordon of Rothiemay. The regular sub division of building fingers of about 7 metres has been reproduced to create two tall thin parallel buildings on a steeply sloping site in the Old Town tradition. Emphasis has been placed on the roofscape which can be viewed either at eye level from the Royal Mile or at high level from the Cowgate. The traditional "roofed rooms" which have largely disappeared from the Old Town are echoed here where the exaggerated roofs house spectacular maisonette flats with double height living spaces. Areas of timber boarding are used at these upper levels echoing the vernacular timber top storeys of the Old Town and lending the buildings scale. The upper gables are largely glazed with a mixture of windows and glass block to give a lantern-like appearance at night.

The two new buildings are separated by a short and vertiginous new close, which forms an extension of the upper part of Old Fishmarket Close joining it to Borthwick Close. Both blocks respond to the height of the adjacent Police and Advocates buildings, with the east block book-ending the lower tenement to its north.

At ground level two external spaces are created by the configuration of blocks: a public space on the north west side and a private garden on the south east side. The staggering of the two blocks helps to address issues of day lighting and privacy in both the new flats and the existing flats in the north west corner of Tron Square. The public space is a level terrace set against the fall of Old Fishmarket Close, serving a cafe, a private garden occupies the other.

In the fall of the site, offices are also slipped under the housing, but a proposal to serve half the apartment kitchens with communal dumb waiters from the cafe kitchen was sadly abandoned by the developer.

The project started on site in October 2002 and was completed in January 2004.

Other Details

Architects Richard Murphy, Graeme Armet (Project Architect), Chris Rhodes
Engineers David Narro Associates
M&E Engineers Cundall Johnston & Partners
Quantity Surveyor Ross & Morton
Planning Supervisor Faber Maunsell
Contractor John Mowlem & Co Ltd
Construction Cost £2.6m
Client Buredi Ltd

Awards

2004 Saltire Society Housing Design Award
2005 UK National Homebuilders Association Best Mixed Development Award
2005 Scottish Enterprise Dynamic Place Award Commendation

Press

6 February 2005 Quest To Fly Scotland's Housing Flag The Sunday Times
December 2004 Home And Dry Prospect Magazine
21 October 2004 Traversing The Great Divide The Scotsman
11 July 2004 Pillars Of Wisdom Sunday Herald Magazine
10 April 2004 Doors To Open At Luxury Old Town Penthouses The Scotsman
5 March 2004 Winning The Regeneration Game The Scotsman
13 February 2004 Building Study - Northern Lights Building Design
17 July 2003 Square's Revamp Is In The Bag Evening News
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