Transforming Architecture
Richard Murphy


Garden Room, Inverleith Gardens. Exterior

©Richard Murphy

I've called this little talk about our work Transforming Architecture because the work that my practice has done, certainly until fairly recently, has been all work to existing buildings and we have taken the point of view that we have attempted to try and transform mostly stone Victorian buildings with late 20th century contemporary work. Also, within the work that we do there is a constant recurrent theme of transforming both the skin of the building and also internal elements, by using moving parts. When I came back from London I was particularly interested in the idea of the great contrast there is in Scotland between the summer and the winter. The summer light goes on and on and on into the evening, whereas in the winter in the middle of December, it's dark by half past three. So I'm interested in the idea that buildings can open out in the summer and close down in the winter. And so these themes continually reoccur and also the idea of admitting the ever-changing Scottish light deep into the centre of our buildings, often through use of roof lights. The projects we’ve chosen for this talk are very similar themed house extensions and finally the total renovation of the Fruit Market warehouse in the centre of Edinburgh. The first project is a tiny garden room at Inverleith Gardens where we were asked to provide a room in the garden by our client. And instead of putting it in the garden, we discovered a fantastic view of Edinburgh to be seen only from the first and second floor. So we persuaded our client to place the garden room on the first floor, on top of her kitchen, rather than adjacent to it. When thinking about our working with previous structures, I tend to think in terms of ruining them, thinking of them as a ruin and then building onto the ruins. And that's a conceptual idea which stands in contrast to those architects who think of building in keeping or in the style of. So we've ruined an existing build-out at the back of this house and placed a new steel structure on the outside of the stone walls that allows the roof to stand independent of the walls.


Garden Room, Inverleith Gardens. Windows From Outside

©Richard Murphy

The walls are made of sliding windows and these can completely slide back so that the whole room can turn itself into a balcony. The windows are on the outside of the structure so, from the inside, they completely disappear. We are of the point of view of what you might call over-expressing the way a building is made. And you can see here how the stick-on-stick timber construction makes a garden seat in a very expressive manner.

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