Architecture

Secret-packed home declared 2016 House of the Year

Murphy House comprises 165 sq m (1,776 sq ft) of floorspace, spread over five levels
Murphy House comprises 165 sq m (1,776 sq ft) of floorspace, spread over five levels
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Murphy House's rainwater runoff is collected and reused for toilet use and the sprinkler system
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Murphy House's rainwater runoff is collected and reused for toilet use and the sprinkler system
Murphy House was lauded by the judges for its sense of playfulness
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Murphy House was lauded by the judges for its sense of playfulness
The five-level Murphy House is located on a sandstone terraced street in Edinburgh’s UNESCO-listed New Town
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The five-level Murphy House is located on a sandstone terraced street in Edinburgh’s UNESCO-listed New Town
Richard Murphy installed novel design touches like pulleys and levers which move sections of wall to open up the home to the sun
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Richard Murphy installed novel design touches like pulleys and levers which move sections of wall to open up the home to the sun
Murphy House measures 165 sq m (1,776 sq ft)
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Murphy House measures 165 sq m (1,776 sq ft)
Murphy House is located on a cramped plot measuring just 11 x 6 m (36 x 19 ft)
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Murphy House is located on a cramped plot measuring just 11 x 6 m (36 x 19 ft)
Murphy House comprises 165 sq m (1,776 sq ft) of floorspace, spread over five levels
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Murphy House comprises 165 sq m (1,776 sq ft) of floorspace, spread over five levels
Inside, Richard Murphy included novel interior design touches like pulleys and levers which move sections of wall to open up the home to the sun
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Inside, Richard Murphy included novel interior design touches like pulleys and levers which move sections of wall to open up the home to the sun
Architectural drawing of the Murphy House
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Architectural drawing of the Murphy House
Murphy House is relatively green too, and features a solar array on the roof which reduces grid-based electricity requirements
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Murphy House is relatively green too, and features a solar array on the roof which reduces grid-based electricity requirements

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced the winner of its prestigious 2016 House of the Year competition. From a shortlist of 20 British homes, Murphy House, by Richard Murphy Architects, has been declared the best. A relatively small and energy-efficient home in Edinburgh, it was lauded by the judges for its playful character, and for overcoming the constraints of a tricky site.

The difference between last year's winner and this year is pronounced. Whereas the former is a sombre, though beautiful piece of architecture fit for a Rothschild, Murphy House seems a lot more down to earth. The architect himself likened it to the kind of home Wallace and Gromit might live in, on account of its many hidden secrets.

The home measures 165 sq m (1,776 sq ft) of floorspace, spread over five floors, and is located on a cramped 11 x 6 m (36 x 19 ft) plot in Edinburgh's UNESCO-listed New Town. Its exterior design is influenced by Venetian architecture, but also references the local Georgian architecture.

Inside, architect and owner Richard Murphy installed pulleys and levers, which re-arrange sections of wall to open up the home to the sun. Sliding bookshelf ladders glide around the small subterranean library, and a hidden bath is located in the master bedroom. Even the little touches like the hidden postbox help increase the character of this charming home.

Murphy House measures 165 sq m (1,776 sq ft)
Murphy House measures 165 sq m (1,776 sq ft)

Murphy paid some attention to energy-efficiency too, and the home features a solar array on the roof that reduces its grid-based electricity requirements. A high-tech air-circulation system ensures fresh airflow throughout, and rainwater is collected and used for the toilet and the sprinkler system. Heat from a log-burning stove is also piped to pre-heat hot water.

"Nearly a decade in the making, this house is a true labour of love for Richard," says RIBA President Jane Duncan. "Part jigsaw puzzle, with its hidden and unexpected spaces, and part Wallace and Gromit with its moving pieces and disappearing walls, this is a model house of pure perfection and a worthy winner of the RIBA House of the Year 2016."

Check out the video below to see some of the moving elements of the home in action.

Source: RIBA

Murphy House Hart Street

4 comments
VincentWolf
No elevator? No thanks!
Island Architect
Ghastly! bill
Nik
''relatively small '' and ''is located on a cramped 11 x 6 m (36 x 19 ft) plot '' Relative to what? My three bedroom [private, not council] bungalow in East Anglia, [one floor] built in the thirties, and considered as suitable for a family, was built on a 7m x 7m footprint. [about 23' 4'' square.] This place is over three times that floor area, and would have been considered a palace, compared to thousands of artisans cottages of that time. Compared to the thousands of one room ''studio flats'' that many have to survive in, its absolutely enormous. FIVE floors to get just over three times the floor area, in a footprint that is already 35% larger than my bungalow, seems like very inefficient design. Logically, this could have provided FIVE homes in the same space, and if they then had the same ingenuity, maybe it would have been worth a prize. As it is...... well!
Grunchy
The biggest nuisance of stairs is carrying things up & down, such as couches and refrigerators and grand pianos! Also staircases don't technically count as living space, same as hallways, so I'd hope that was reflected in the total floor area.
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