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Block 9 Architects drive intensification of B-listed Edinburgh villa

October 15 2020

Block 9 Architects drive intensification of B-listed Edinburgh villa

Block 9 Architects have completed the conversion of a B-listed villa to form three apartments, joined by two new mews properties and a further three townhouses within the grounds, after being tasked with intensifying the site by property developer North.

The historic villa at Bruntsfield Terrace stands within the Merchiston and Greenhill Conservation Area of Edinburgh and required replacement of a cast-iron spiral staircase at the rear with the original central stairwell reinstated and lit from above by refurbished cupola roof lights, to provide access to separate apartments over the ground and first floors.

A four-storey historic extension to the east meanwhile has been redesigned as a separate apartment complete with a basement cinema. Thermal, acoustic and fire ratings have also been improved throughout by relining party walls.

Twin new build properties to the rear have been conceived as a contemporary interpretation of traditional mews properties and rise from a masonry base enveloping a timber clerestory and gables. Following the massing established by a previous 1980s office block, these weave dramatic high-level floorspace within the roof, defined by exaggerated aluminium dormers.

Rounding off the accommodation are a further three townhouses which sit at the heart of the site, employing triple-height volumes and suspended stairs to make the most of the available footprint. 'Twisted geometry' between the upper and lower floors exploits open aspects to the villa courtyard to the front and rear gardens with large overhanging mono-pitched roofs oriented towards the former.

Employing a complementary materials palette of masonry, render and Siberian larch clad projecting cantilevered boxes and louvers, the development is intended to be read as a unified composition.

Commenting on the delivery process the architects wrote: "Close consideration was made in advance to what would be approved for the site by the local planning authority, conservation department and the local community.

"The project built upon an existing design proposal which it was deemed did not exploit the full potential of the site, and used a combination of several design elements to intensify the development."

A rationalisation of access arrangements improves circulation throughout
A rationalisation of access arrangements improves circulation throughout
Projecting zinc and larch boxes address a shared interior courtyard
Projecting zinc and larch boxes address a shared interior courtyard


Morning Sider
#1 Posted by Morning Sider on 15 Oct 2020 at 12:07 PM
Nice looking project.
But judging from the aerial shots, how did Edinburgh Planning permit so much to be crammed into such a tight backyard site in a Conservation Area? Rules for one and rules for another.
Whispering Andy
#2 Posted by Whispering Andy on 15 Oct 2020 at 14:00 PM
Whisper it....but that is fantastic! Hats off to Bloc9 - a truly outstanding design!
#3 Posted by Stylecouncil on 15 Oct 2020 at 16:28 PM
Increabibly over-developed, details from 1996 and a hotch potch of different materials. Zero finesse.
#4 Posted by Seerightthroughyou on 16 Oct 2020 at 10:01 AM
#3 Completely disagree. A well considered, characterful scheme that has an identity and sense of place - unlike the endless over-rationalised resi monoblocks that usually populate these pages at the moment. 'Increabibly (incredibly?) overdeveloped'; erm, no its not - ever been south of the border? Get a f**king grip of yourself son and stop posting useless comments. Credit where credit is due.
#5 Posted by classarchitect on 16 Oct 2020 at 12:07 PM
Decent scheme but positively trail blazing in terms of what CEC will let Edinburgh Architects do! Well done.
#6 Posted by SHOUTING ANDREW on 17 Oct 2020 at 00:00 AM
Jon Exotic
#7 Posted by Jon Exotic on 17 Oct 2020 at 10:21 AM
Good to see Edinburgh realising that these big detached properties and their vast grounds in the city need to be modernised and subdivided to house the populous, rather than a couple of posh old pensioners rattling about in them for their retirement. Lets hope other planning depts. follow suit. Beats building on the green belt.
Beautiful and bold design.
#8 Posted by airdrieman on 18 Oct 2020 at 11:13 AM
#7 makes a very good point. These properties are the evolution is space requirements is cities as they try to up densities. 'mon the greenbelt! Materials and angles not to my taste but....

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