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The Architect On The UK’s Best Luxury Development

Posted 13 August 2020 by Isla MacFarlane

Architect Richard Murphy OBE on The Crescent, Best Luxury Development Gold winner at the WhatHouse? Awards 2019...

Visionary architect Richard Murphy OBE gives rare insight into the creation of The Crescent, winner of Gold for CALA Homes in the Best Luxury Development category at the WhatHouse? Awards 2019.

In an exclusive video for the housebuilder filmed at his Edinburgh home, the creative mind behind the development in the city’s West End has provided a rare and detailed insight of it as well as revealing what he hopes will be the legacy of Scotland's most upmarket and ambitious new development.

It is bringing a sweeping arc of 84 glass-fronted apartments situated in the tranquil grounds of Edinburgh’s grand Donaldson’s estate, within the city’s celebrated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Just a mile west of Princes Street, and minutes from Haymarket Station, the collection of luxury apartments sit within 18 acres of established grounds, and has a variety of amenities on its doorstep alongside an impressive selection of transport links into and out of the city.

It also boasts the most comprehensive provision of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in Scotland, as well as the largest communal garden in Edinburgh.

The Award-winning site is the flagship development for CALA Homes (East) and its forensically considered design draws direct inspiration from the Scottish capital's famous Georgian New Town architecture.

As part of its new #AskTheArchitect campaign which gives a rare insight into the design ethos and process, Richard discusses the architecture and the history of The Crescent, after questions were submitted by the public.

Richard said: “I hope first and foremost that The Crescent will go on to be seen as a residential and architectural success.

“Obviously one doesn’t want to make fake architecture, one wants to make something that is true to their own time and I also like the idea that buildings are rooted to their place.

“We need to make contemporary contributions to our town scape, which don’t detract from the history of the site but that put them into new settings, enhancing them in a way that was not originally imaginable.

“There are three architectural features which make The Crescent stand out so much. The first are the vast windows, which slide away completely and create this open space – meaning the living rooms become balconies in effect.

“The interlocking section is another incredible feature. Some developers might have been nervous about it but CALA has seen the logic in it – you get different heights of rooms inside the apartment and in particular the mezzanine levels which look out over the grounds.

“With the penthouses, there is a remarkable amount of outside space – the two end-plots in particular have potential for an expansive garden up there.

“I hope the people that buy them go to town on the garden, meaning the whole building will become habitable – not just the inside spaces.”

The Crescent is heavily shaped by its location on the grounds of Edinburgh’s iconic Donaldson's estate, contrasting, respecting and embracing the original Playfair building, previous a School for the Deaf, which was famously described by Queen Victoria as being more palatial than her own homes.

The Crescent's interlocking storey structure means that apartments sit on up to four levels, allowing for vast double-height living spaces to the front. This uniqueness of design was integral to the development securing 12 industry award wins, becoming the most award-winning CALA project in history.

CALA Homes (East) has released the exclusive video with Richard Murphy on its social media @calahomes.

The founder of Edinburgh-based Richard Murphy Architects, Richard has won 20 RIBA Awards and was appointed an OBE in 2007 for services to architecture. Further leading projects he has designed include the Fruitmarket Gallery and Maggie's Centre in Edinburgh and Dundee Contemporary Art Gallery.

Murphy has undertaken commissions throughout the UK and abroad and has recently designed the proposed Filmhouse at Edinburgh's Festival Square.


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