Argyll House & Atelier | D-form

• June 9, 2010

UK-based architectural studio D-form has designed the Argyll House & Atelier in Edinburgh. This is an dynamic annex designed to fit in the narrow site in between 2 existing buildings which is only 4.5m wide 30m long.

+ Project description courtesy of D-form
Argyll montage front 06 595x446 Argyll House & Atelier | D form

Argyll House & Atelier, image courtesy of D-form

Argyll House & Atelier project in Edinburgh tackles an architectural cliché – a home and workplace for a modern professional couple. First and foremost however (and surprisingly too), it is one of the first attempts in the history of modern Edinburgh, to break-out of the ‘architectural box’ the Capital of Scotland seems to have confined itself to. Not exactly a strategy but perhaps a passage out.

The location selected for the project is in Fountainbridge – most famous for its brewery, Union Canal and for once being home to Sean Connery himself. Fountainbridge is currently undergoing a lengthy regeneration programme, which has recently slowed due to the economic crisis. Although the site is situated on the border of a charming residential area of Polwarth, being on the outskirts of the Fountainbridge revamp plans, it still lacks the quality which in the near future it will be surrounded by.

The site is a challenging 4.5m wide 30m long strip of land. It is sandwiched between the external walls of the Art Nouveau /Art Deco B-listed Fountainbridge Library, and a typical working class tenement building from the turn of the 20th century which also accommodates a ground floor retail space. The reinforced concrete structure of the building spans between the two blind walls. Only a 3m wide section of pavement to the front of the site separates it from Dundee Street – a busy commuter trail to and from the city centre by day, crowded with hordes of party-goers by night. To the rear of the site is a large courtyard, surrounded by similar tenements with their back-gardens situated at its perimeter.

Argyll montage front 04 595x793 Argyll House & Atelier | D form

Argyll House & Atelier, image courtesy of D-form

As a catalyst of change for this part of Fountainbridge, the Argyll House and Atelier confronts its surroundings, with no intention of mimicking the urban tissue of its environment. The front elevation, inspired by the intriguing beauty of Argyll Forest, resembles the urban tree house. To minimise the negative impact of traffic and noise on the quality of life and work inside the building, the frontage of the ground-to-second floors has been recessed by 11m. The open entrance volume, fenced with branches and gates of white-coated metal, accommodates the escape stair and parking spaces for two small cars and five bicycles. The black polished concrete walls and pavement in the front recess, contrast with and emphasise the white beacon above.

The layout of the building is a reinterpretation of the typical British city terraced house. The ground and first floor are occupied by eponymous Atelier and are surmounted by a three-level dwelling. The stem-like core of the building spans the first three floors, it accommodates the main circulation routes (lift and stairs), toilets, services and storage, while the living space on each level wraps around it.

The brutal dynamism of the concrete vocabulary externally is translated into dynamic minimalism inside. The traditional separation of spaces is interrupted by voids and openings providing natural light, and by the floral pattern of the wallpaper to one of the blind walls of the dwelling – a visual link through all three residential floors and the only intrusion of colour on the blank canvas of interior.

The source of natural daylight for the brightly finished stretched office space for 5 to 8 people at ground floor, is provided via a slim triangular incision along one of the walls (outdoor patio) and a roof light at the end of the room.

Argyll meet 01 595x595 Argyll House & Atelier | D form

Argyll House & Atelier, image courtesy of D-form

In contrast, the brainstorm/meeting room with a terrace above, features a vast window opening and is treated with a black concrete finish to floor and walls, with white furniture and dry erase scribbling wall.

The kitchen/dining room on the second floor acts as a transitional space between working and living and is treated with a laboratory white finish throughout, allowing only a glimpse of floral wallpaper leading to the bedrooms upstairs.

The master and guest bedrooms on the third floor are located at opposite ends of the floor plate, with a glass enclosed dressing space in between. Whilst the guest room has an en-suite bathroom, the master suite boasts a generous open bathroom ‘with a view’, a double shower room, a toilet above the sleeping area and a separate toilet next to the reading space at the lower floor.

The front facade of the white concrete block housing the master bedroom is tilted to face the Edinburgh Castle. It provides a second skin to a wall of reinforced glass with a balcony in between. A traditional living room is replaced by a surreal contemplation room and the outdoor patio linked to a small roof terrace – also a part of the top floors master area.

+ Project credits / data

Project: Argyll House & Atelier
Architect: D-form
Location: Edinburgh, UK

+ All images and drawing courtesy of D-form

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Category: Architecture, Mixed Use, Office, Residential

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