This unusual corner house that architect Richard Murphy designed for himself combines sustainable technology with modernist design. Located at the junction of two Edinburgh estates developed in the 1820’s, the design creatively responds to the area’s planning contradictions with an multi-functional residence with a rich material palette.
Ten years after the architect first contacted the owner of this lot in the eastern Edinburgh New Town, he finally received planning permission in 2007, but soon had to halt the development again due to the recession. The laborious process has finally resulted in a spacious, three-bedroom residence Glenn Murcutt called “A Rubik’s cube”, referring to its complexity and mechanical features. The front façade continues the stonework pattern of the street façade, with the entire structure featuring a combination of glass blocks, steel, burnt timber and lead. This introduction of bespoke design solutions and materiality reference Pierre Chareau’s Maison de Verre in Paris that featured an abundance of custom-made steel elements and moving mechanisms.
Photovoltaic cells are installed on the south facing monopitch roof, while two giant mechanized shutters in the living room and the master bedroom allow the glass to generate heat for the house when open, but prevent it radiating heat when closed. Most of the windows have insulated shutters which slide or pivot. An automated internal air circulation system takes warm air from the top of the house to the basement to counteract the stack effect. Rainwater is funneled to grey-water storage tanks in the basement and used to flush toilets and supply the sprinkler system.