Inspired by Carlo Scarpa and Reitveld’s Schroder House, the Murphy House is remarkable not only for its customized details as an architect’s self-designed house, but also for its controversial contemporary appearance in the notoriously restrictive planning environment of Edinburgh’s New Town World Heritage Site. Richard Murphy even managed to win approval despite a recommendation to refuse planning permission and succeeded to build, as the Urban Realm puts it, “one of the city’s most adaptable and sustainable homes.”
Located on a street corner and sandwiched between two estates, the Murphy House occupies a small plot of land, approximately the size of half a garden. Despite introducing what would seem like a disruptive modern design to a World Heritage Site, the compact building actually helps knit the architectural landscape together. The house serves as a bookend to hide an unsightly and abrupt gable end on the west side of Hart Street, while the home’s stone-clad facade continues the traditional stonework pattern of its neighbors.
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The interior of the 165-square-meter home comprises three bedrooms; a combined living room, dining area, and kitchen; study; basement storage; garage; utility room; and roof terrace. The dramatically sloped roof is topped with photovoltaic cells and skylights that let in natural light. The south-facing roof is also built with mechanized insulated shutters to minimize energy loss, while a computerized air circulation system transfers warm air from the apex of the home to the basement. Rainwater is harvested from the rooftop and reused to flush toilets and for irrigation. A geothermal system feeds underfloor heating and hot water is pre-heated using energy from the flue of a log-burning stove.
+ Richard Murphy Architects
Images via Richard Murphy Architects