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Richard Murphy’s Quartermile social housing completes

July 22 2013

Richard Murphy’s Quartermile social housing completes
A £23m social housing complex at the heart of Edinburgh’s Quartermile development has been unveiled by Richard Murphy Architects, as the first tenants pick up the keys to their new homes.

Delivered on behalf of Quartermile and Hillcrest Housing Association Q10 constitutes the affordable housing component of the former Edinburgh Royal Infirmary master plan and incorporates a ground floor nursery, scheduled for completion by Christmas.

Organised around an octagonal central courtyard, accessed from a double height opening fronting Chalmers Street, the scheme rises to five storeys around its central court before stepping up in height to culminate into two ten storey corner towers.

Explaining the rationale behind this move the practice said: “This layout has been developed to maximise daylight into what is, of necessity, a relatively densely designed scheme but also to create a courtyard as a social heart to the scheme based on models of similar sized city blocks in Berlin and other European cities.

“In addition it offers tenants in the upper storeys the views of the Meadows and beyond enjoyed by buyers of the other flats on the overall site. The intention throughout has been to try and maintain the amenity of all flats, maximising light and view whilst minimising the number of single aspect flats in favour of dual aspect or corner flats wherever possible.”
A double height entrance space grants access to a central courtyard
A double height entrance space grants access to a central courtyard
A stepped profile adds skyline interest
A stepped profile adds skyline interest

Q10 has to strike a balance between affordability whilst fitting in with more expensive properties
Q10 has to strike a balance between affordability whilst fitting in with more expensive properties
The block contains a total of 98 properties for social rent and 76 for mid-market rent
The block contains a total of 98 properties for social rent and 76 for mid-market rent


#1 Posted by monkey9000 on 22 Jul 2013 at 16:32 PM
Is the use of 3D glasses recommended for the viewing of this building?
#2 Posted by Egbert on 23 Jul 2013 at 09:34 AM
Bit of a monster, this one. The TV-interference style variegated cladding seems designed to trigger migraines, the stepped massing on the south side looks terribly clumsy and the overral scale is in severe contrast with what was there before (a run of decent if neglected 3-storey terraced houses). RMA are another talented design-led practice who seem catastrophically bad at doing larger buildings - a real shame.
#3 Posted by Rogers on 23 Jul 2013 at 13:50 PM
Sorry Richard....Grim at best
Dogs Dinner
#4 Posted by Dogs Dinner on 23 Jul 2013 at 14:38 PM
I take it they reviewed the cladding budget after the pretty Foster scheme completed then? Unfortunatly Egbert has hit the nail on the head at the end of his comment. Anyone else worrying about Haymarket?

In all fairness, this was designed to be the social housing portion to the original development - how come it ended up in the hands of private tenants?
Auld Cynic
#5 Posted by Auld Cynic on 23 Jul 2013 at 15:28 PM
Having visited a number of the apartments I can confirm that the ones I saw were really rather good, with many enjoying spectacular views of the city and beyond, as well as generous terraces and balconies.

The density is a challenge and only time will tell whether contemporary tenement dwellers still have the necessary social skills, qualities and awareness to live in this kind of proximity.

The massing is modelled to encourage sunlight/daylight and views to the apartments and again this is interesting, but challenging in terms of future development within cities? Chalmers Street with its architecture now spanning from the 70’s to present day is sadly an inconsistent mess. Why I wonder?

Typical tenement models – for arguments sake – found in Edinburgh and Glasgow were successful without an excess of response and modelling to environmental factors – the scale of the city and street, the ‘class’ of the proposed residents were just some of the pragmatics determining the way whole area’s of cities were developed – If a living room faced North…so be it…so what in fact?

Interestingly that model remains largely as successful, sustainable and desirable today as it was over 100 years ago.

So I think this scheme is a challenge to a great many of our expectations for dense tenement housing in the city and I will watch its future unfold (for as long as I can...) with some interest.
#6 Posted by ralf on 24 Jul 2013 at 10:33 AM
anyone find this social engineering offensive? This development only caters for minorities of society the very poor (social tenents, and good luck to them) and those rich enough to afford the most expensive property in Edinburgh. What about the rest of us (the majority) that don't earn a couple of hundred grand a year? Where do we get to live? Perhaps a more interesting debate than slagging off cladding...
#7 Posted by Egbert on 24 Jul 2013 at 11:53 AM
Ralf makes an important point - housing policy (or lack thereof in the UK) and the abject failure of the market to provide an affordable solution for the majority are the enormous elephants in the room here. These are issues that we as architects urgently need to engage with if we are to retain any status and standing, beyond becoming mere dressers-up (and slaggers-off) of investment floorspace.
#8 Posted by Roomer on 24 Jul 2013 at 15:22 PM
So am I wrong to think that these units actually ended up in the private sector? I heard a rumour that as the original scheme sold so well, they decided to offset these somewhere else out of town, and sell these off as private too.
#9 Posted by stacey on 25 Jul 2013 at 13:33 PM
So, can anyone confirm about the affordable (whatever that means!) housing figures/component?
#10 Posted by Ralf on 25 Jul 2013 at 16:09 PM
This development will be owned by Hillcrest Housing Association a Charity. The plan is to provide:

98 Social Rent Properties
76 Mid Market Rent Properties

If you are wondering what mid market rent is, well its a discount on market rents, usually around 20%. However, there are criteria you need to meet before you can apply for one of these homes. The criteria you will need to meet to be eligible for a mid market rent house are:

•Perspective tenants should normally be individuals or households on low/modest gross incomes but not exceeding:
?£28,000 in the case of single person households
?£36,000 in the case of other households comprising of more than one adult

So if you are a couple both on £18,500 a year, you are excluded from this development. My partner and I are on a combined salary of £37,000 - try buying decent flat in Edinburgh for that. Try buying a flat in Quartermile for that!
CAD Monkey
#11 Posted by CAD Monkey on 26 Jul 2013 at 09:04 AM
What happens if you earn £35,500, move in to the developmenmt, then you get a salary rise taking you over the threshold? Does that mean you get evicted?
#12 Posted by Brian on 29 Jul 2013 at 16:37 PM
It makes Glasgows riverside apartments look classy!

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