Circus Lane House Extension, Edinburgh

Circus Lane House Extension, Edinburgh Building Project, New Scottish Architecture Development Images, Architect

Circus Lane House Extension in Edinburgh

4 September 2023

Design: DS Architecture

Location: Edinburgh, south east Scotland

Circus Lane House Extension Edinburgh

Photos by Will Scott Photography

Circus Lane House Extension, Scotland

Taking a walk around the gentle curve of Edinburgh’s famously picturesque Circus Lane, the clocktower of St Stephen’s Church looms overhead and draws you towards the western end of the Lane, as one of the New Town’s latest additions comes into view.

Circus Lane House Extension Edinburgh

Designed as a two-storey extension to an existing traditional mews property, the new building is a full stop to the row of houses on the north side of the Lane. Occupying a site formerly used as garages, the next-door structure of St Vincent’s Chapel ensures that the row of properties will never extend beyond this new addition, meaning it has the unusual task for a mews property of presenting 2 principal elevations – south to the Lane and east towards St Vincent Street.

The design challenge therefore was to create a fitting ‘bookend’ for the Lane, a very visible first impression when approaching from the east and a complementary addition to the architecturally rich, traditional and disparate series of properties it adjoins.

While the building is an extension and is integrated internally with the existing first floor property it adjoins, the structure can be viewed in isolation from the outside. Arranged over two floors, the layout is flipped to include a bedroom and bathroom at ground floor, afforded with smaller window openings, to offer increased privacy and intimacy.

Circus Lane House Extension Edinburgh

On the first floor, away from the direct view of the many residents and tourists who walk through the Lane each day, the main living space and kitchen enjoy large windows, maximising the aspect and view towards the south, filling the space with natural light throughout the day. The frameless corner window offers view towards St Vincent Street to the east as well as towards the Lane, and softens the external corner of the building at that level, helping to unite those two main perpendicular elevations.

Wrapping around the rear of the existing property, the new structure also contains a study on ground floor that opens out to the enclosed courtyard garden on the north side of the property. Above, a new utility room offers additional amenity.

Within the existing building, formerly a self-contained one bedroom flat, there are a further two large bedrooms and a bathroom. A former garage on the ground floor has also been integrated into the plans to provide a generous and accessible ‘Jack & Jill’ bathroom.

Circus Lane House Extension Edinburgh

What was the brief?

The existing property was formerly a one bedroomed flat located on the first floor of an old carriage store, located as it was over three garages. The property was accessed via the rear garden and using a flight of external stone stairs.

With the easternmost of those three garages also under ownership, together with a further two garages within a single storey structure abutted to the eastern gable, the brief called for the extension and adaptation of these spaces to create a new 3 bedroomed property.
The Client called for a bold but sensitive addition to the Lane, occupying the footprint of the single storey garage structure which was to be demolished. Internally, the former upper flat, ground floor garage and new addition were to be integrated seamlessly.

Circus Lane House Extension Edinburgh

What were the key challenges?

Circus Lane is well known in Edinburgh and beyond for being one of the most picturesque in the city and is reputedly one of the most photographed streets in Scotland. Designing within such a sensitive context was therefore critical.

The Lane does have a number of properties of different styles within it, which allowed a certain design freedom to be employed – an opportunity to design an addition to the Lane that stood on its own merits while complementing and respecting the existing fabric. Being positioned at the very eastern end of the row, the design also sought a solution to presenting two key elevations to the south and east.

Through construction, the main challenges centred around access and the tightness of the site, limited as it was for space in and around the property. Located within such a prohibited space and surrounded by a number of residential properties on all sides, sensitive management of works was critical to the success of the build.

Circus Lane House Extension Edinburgh Scotland

How is the project unique?

The opportunity to design and build a new addition to Edinburgh’s historic New Town on such a prominent site is extremely rare. It was important through the design stages to engage with the local residents and interest groups to ensure that the proposals were met with approval prior to submitting the planning application. The result was a successful planning process which received no objections.

Non-conventional to most mews style properties, the design required to address the challenge of presenting 2 perpendicular elevations to the Lane. As the first property seen when approached from St Vincent Street, it was key to ensure the building had a lightness while maintaining privacy for the spaces inside.

There was a conscious effort to make sure the ground floor offered a robust and strong ‘corner’ to the end of the lane without it feeling too heavy. Carefully considered window openings that line through with those above help to break up the mass of this lower level, while the stonework is also in relief over some areas to help visually break the form. Accoya timber louvres set within aluminium frames are inserted within the opening to offer shading and privacy from the street.

Circus Lane House Extension Edinburgh Scotland

What building methods were used?

The new structure is timber framed. The two main drivers behind this centred around speed of erection and also the space constraints of the site. With a timber frame and the ability to insulate the envelope within the depth of that frame as well as inside it, high thermal properties could be achieved without wall thicknesses becoming excessive.

The inside of the existing property was framed out and fully insulated to improve the fabric and performance of the property in all areas being retained.

Underfloor heating has been installed in all ground floor areas, laid within a concrete screed. A polished micro-cement screed finish has then been applied to all ground floor areas, providing a consistency in finish to the entire level.

An open tread solid white oak staircase has been designed and installed within the entrance hallway, connecting the ground floor and arriving straight into the open plan kitchen and living area on the first floor. Solid oak vertical battens provide a transparent barrier between the stair and hall.

Circus Lane House Extension Edinburgh Scotland

What are the sustainability features?

The new elements of structure have been designed and built in line with the highest standards to achieve strong thermal loss credentials. The existing fabric of the building has been upgraded wherever and as much as possible in all areas.

The entire property is serviced by an air source heat pump, located within the courtyard garden, abating reliance on gas fired appliances for heating.

Circus Lane House Extension Edinburgh Scotland

Circus Lane House Extension in Edinburgh, Scotland – Building Information

Architects: DS Architecture
Project size: 125 sqm
Site size: 185 sqm
Completion date: 2023
Building levels: 2

Circus Lane House Extension Edinburgh Scotland

Photography: Will Scott Photography

Circus Lane House Extension, Edinburgh images / information from received 040923 from DS Architecture

Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

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