Converted offices win residential award

Allan Murray Architects
Monday 30 Nov 2009

1970's office block transformed into prize-winning residence

The redevelopment of a 1970's concrete frame and brick frame office building by Allan Murray Architects has received the Residential Bronze Award at the 2009 Roses Design Awards. Sundial Properties and Kilmartin Property Group commissioned the redevelopment of Croythorn House in Edinburgh, which was originally designed by Roland Wedgwood Architects and erected in the early 1970’s as an office block. The dated site has now been transformed into a contemporary residential property providing 59 apartments, penthouses and duplex units as well as large townhouses.

"The (original) building consisted of a series of long horizontal stripes of glass and brown brickwork to the east and west elevations with solid brown brick core towers to the north and south elevations. The elevational treatment of the 3rd level had a slight recess," said Allan Murray Architects. "The top floor had full height glazing. The car park was significant in size and provided a very poor quality environment. Internally, the office building no longer reflected the high demands placed on modern office accommodation - it was inflexible, had narrow plans, low floor to ceiling heights and poor environmental conditions."

The property had one saving grace, however - its views, located on the ridge of a hill with spectacular views across the city possibly only eclipsed by the views from Edinburgh Castle itself.

The existing shell was retained with the addition of a new 3 metre zone to the side of the frame to locate stairs and lifts in line with its new function and era. An elegant external glazing design with balconies was developed to respect the horizontal nature of the main building as well as solid towers to the north and south elevations to maintain the “bookend” vertical towers. The series of balconies and glass walls take advantage of the views and give external space to each of the properties.

The additional depth of the new structure on the west allows the formation of a distinctive curved facade out of which the troughs of the curve form deeper balcony areas relating to the west facing living rooms on this elevation. The peaks of the wave wall accommodate the three new stair and lift cores that serve the flats. The continuous cantilevered glass balustrade present on the east is also repeated on the west elevation. The light on these new facades creates a very dramatic play of light and shadow.

The previous tarmaced car park area has been excavated and two lower levels of underground car parking have been inserted. The new level created above this has been designed by John Richards Landscape Architects as a new community garden an amenity for the residents but also returning more green space to the area.

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