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“it’s bigger on the inside”

“it’s bigger on the inside”

Project Description

This 6.8m² ‘glass box’ extension and remodelling of the rear rooms on the ground floor allow the new kitchen and dining spaces of this Category B listed early Victorian townhouse to spill out into its small, enclosed, south-facing garden.

A silversmith, William Kirk, lived in this house for 50 years, with little updating of its structure throughout that time.  The room that is now the kitchen was his workshop, where he produced his beautifully crafted, modernist silverware.  His work has been commissioned by an astonishing list of individuals, including Her Majesty the Queen.

The remodelling of the rear rooms and modest extension are part of an overall refurbishment of the whole house, updating the structure to reflect modern energy conservation standards, as well as servicing, repairing and renewing the external fabric and restoring historic plasterwork and joinery.

Our aim was to develop a minimal, highly glazed and scrupulously detailed addition that brushes very lightly against the historic fabric of the house.  Despite being small, the extension has a significant impact on forming the living spaces, both internal and external.

In developing the original two-storey service extension, we reintroduced, in a contemporary form, the ‘back’ stairs that would have linked the staff areas with the upper floors of the house.  The new cantilevered stairway, below a frameless 2.7 x 1.5m triple-glazed skylight, links the kitchen to the master bedroom via a glass bridge, which also provides access to a small terrace where the final rays of evening sunshine can be enjoyed when the garden falls into shadow.  The glass bridge maximises light reaching the dining space below.

The entirely frameless glazing is only interrupted by a near coplanar band of stainless steel at the ceiling zone and a sophisticated, Swiss made, 3-metre-tall and 1.8-metre-wide triple-glazed sliding leaf weighing a third of a ton, providing access to the garden.  The whole structure is supported on a single, slender, stainless steel, circular column within the glass. Every joint between new and old is considered in careful detail to reduce it to its absolute minimum, allowing the original fabric to maintain its historical continuum, yet evoking the tension between 19th-century craftsmanship and 21st-century technology.

The landscape design also allowed the inside to integrate with the outside.  The new limestone flagstones continue beyond the threshold to a morning terrace and the extension terminates at the reflecting pool with its stepping stones, providing access to the remainder of the garden.



“it’s bigger on the inside”

  • Edinburgh, Scottland
  • United Kingdom
Completion: 2015
Used materials
  • Wood
  • Glass
  • Concrete

Type of Building

Architect Office