At the sharp end

This Edinburgh house shows what’s possible when you take a new approach to building in the suburbs

Building a modern house in a city of well-established classic archi­tec­tural styles is tricky under any circum­stances. But when the city in question is a World Heritage Site, that challenge goes up a notch.
Those were the thoughts of Diana Borland when she was asked to design a new family home in the suburbs of south-west Edinburgh. Rather than take the easy option of building something blandly inoffensive, she collaborated with the clients, Mike and Louise Forster, and came up with a true one-off that takes bespoke design to a lofty new level.
Even the project’s brief was drawn up in an unusual way, with decisions made based on so-called emotional mapping: “On our first site meeting we asked Mike and Louise to use their imagination, and we mapped this journey (of ideas) through their home and developed the design alongside the physical constraints of the site,” explains Helen, of Edinburgh-based architects Purcell.
If that sounds a little bit airy-fairy, the results are surprisingly useful. In fact, Louise was taken aback by how invaluable this process was: “We spent a morning on site with Diana, talking about what we wanted and describing our lifestyle. Some of our ideas were practical things, like allowing our rugby-playing sons to enter the house through a side door and dump their muddy clothes next to the washing machine and go straight into a shower. We wanted a family home rather than a design statement.”

This is just a taster, you can browse the full article with more stunning photography on pages 247-256, issue 100.

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Photography Andrew Lee
Words Caroline Ednie