Creating 130 homes with 26 affordable units at the 7.75 acre, high density, residential Upper Strand site – the first site awarded as part of Edinburgh’s major waterfront regeneration – Reiach and Hall and Elder & Cannon Architects are part of a developer-led, competition-winning team integrating a new place within the city.
For too many years Edinburgh’s interface with its major river and ports has been neglected. For a city under pressure to encroach on its green belt, the 7.75 acre high density Upper Strand residential site offered a vast track of brown field land in a spectacular setting. The City of Edinburgh Council & Scottish Enterprise assembled parcels of land creating a master plan for a significant part of the waterfront foreshore. Upper Strand is the first phase of this major regeneration of Edinburgh’s waterfront – which ultimately will create over 5,000 homes.
Reiach and Hall Architects and Elder & Cannon Architects are part of a developer led, competition – winning team, which in January 2005 began construction of 130 homes at Upper Strand. Our brief was to integrate a new place with in the master plan and the city. As the first team to be awarded a site it was essential that we set the standard and in January 2005 we began construction of 130 one, two and three bedroom apartments, with 26 affordable units. The scheme is divided into 2 principal urban blocks, an urban maker building and a series of villas. People have now made this site their home and the tower, recently completed, has welcomed its first owners.
The creation of place is something beyond skill of the architect alone. Places emerge though time. The architect begins this gradual process by providing an armature of buildings and spaces, which people engage with and make their own. This new development uses most fundamental & recognisable of urban design devices – the landmark, the street and the edge.
The Tower as landmark locates the area and forms the marker around which the area rallies. The street has two sides, each done by a different architect, sympathetic to each other yet with different design aspirations. Each acknowledges the other – like good neighbours do – yet they don’t get too familiar. As well as making streets, the residential blocks create edges between different districts allowing identities to form & making sequences of connections that lead from the city to the sea.
During the design process we explored housing for varying needs, adaptability and responsiveness to occupancy needs, use of passive solar gain and other free energies, use of site wide district heating, incorporation of a sustainability management system, whole house heat recovery ventilation systems, effective waste management and recycling and simple/modular design to cope with incremental expansion.