Retrofit planning application for two Edinburgh 11-storey blocks

DETAILED planning permission has been submitted to Edinburgh’s city council, to carry out a retrofit – to high energy-efficiency standards – to two, 11-storey blocks of apartments in the north of the city.

The blocks – in the Muirhouse area of the city – are “1950’s cast, in-situ concrete frame, deck-access slab blocks, with maisonettes in the centre and flats to each ‘bookend'”, as described by the architects involved in the application, Glasgow-based Stallan Brand.

Also involved in the application is environmental design consultants Atelier Ten, civil and structural engineers Goodsons and landscape architects Oobe.

It is being submitted on behalf of Turner & Townsend, an Edinburgh-based real estate and infrastructure consultancy which is project managing the scheme for the blocks’ owners, The City of Edinburgh Council.

Says Stallan Brand, in a media release, of the blocks: “They are an extremely complex building typology, due to the combination of open access decks, maisonettes whose upper level steps out above / below the open access decks to create exposed soffit and roof elements, an exposed cast- in-situ concrete exoskeletonstructure that sits proud of the external walls, architectural detailing which creates a high number of complicated junctions, a complex section line of exposed projecting concrete slab edges and balustrades and the sheer scale of the buildings.”

In pursuit of the retrofit, Stallan Brand’s approach will be to seek “significant improvements… to thermal performance, air tightness, ventilation – including introduction of intelligent low- energy extract systems – enlargement of existing windows to improve natural ventilation and daylight levels, extension of south-facing balconies to improve their usability – including the introduction of sliding glazed screens to allow their use in winter months and inclement weather -[and] internalisation of the open access decks and flats and maisonettes to the north within a new façade.

“[Plus] significant reduction (if not eradication) of condensation-related issues, bringing the buildings up to current accessibility standards, passive surveillance and safety improvements – by increasing the amount of active frontage to ground floors and rationalising the building entrances – replacing and expanding communal electrical and life-safety systems coverage, replacement of outdated refuse chutes with generous, modern internal bin stores, creation of generous internal cycle stores to compliment proposed active travel routes within the wider landscape and creation of community ‘Heart Spaces’ in the redundant pram stores at the base of each building to provide additional services and promote improved wellbeing and better communication between neighbours.”

Adds the release: “The planning application focusses on Oxcars Court and Inchmickery Court and the 1.65Ha of surrounding land, with further applications to follow covering the masterplan and landscape proposals for the remaining 3.5Ha of the wider site. These will seek to improve active travel routes, bolster outdoor play and exercise opportunities, formalise space for gardening and growing, boost biodiversity and integrate Sustainable Drainage Systems features.”

Picture credit: Stallan Brand

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