In 2009 new practice Konishi Gaffney Architects completed their own self built house and studio in Portobello, Edinburgh. In April it won the “Best Small Project” award from the EAA, a chapter of the RIAS and has been shortlisted for a Saltire Housing Award – Scotland’s most prestigious award for housing.
It is a green house. Built on a small brown-field site, formerly a mechanic’s garage, on a back lane this congested and overlooked nature required a careful balance between privacy and getting sunshine and solar energy into the house. It succeeds by turning its back on the lane to protect privacy while to the East and the garden a 5.5mx2.4m opening to the garden opens the house up to early morning sun, starting the heating cycle. To the South, to the lane, a large glazed 1st floor corner window brings South light and warmth diagonally through a double height space onto the concrete floor, used for its thermal mass.
Some of the fashionable “eco-bling” products were rejected in favour of these passive solar techniques, in addition local, recycled and recyclable materials were specified throughout and the house is super insulated. The result is that in spring, summer and autumn, while the sun is high enough, the house requires no heating. In winter under floor heating is proving comfortable and efficient space heating while top-up heating is provided by a wood burning stove. The house was designed whilst living and working in Japan (2007) and as a Scottish - Japanese practice a number of Japanese themes were adopted. It was this mix of Scottish and Japanese architecture that the judges were most enthusiastic about. Built simply and affordably we are proud of it and its award.