Fraser/Livingstone adds angular tenement to historical Edinburgh site

Exterior of Simon Square apartments by Fraser/Livingstone

Scottish studio Fraser/Livingstone has completed a mass-timber tenement-style housing development in Edinburgh named Simon Square.

Comprising six flats, the housing block replaces an old builder’s yard on a site closely bordered by 19th-century stone tenements, in Edinburgh’s Southside.

Aerial view of Simon Square apartments by Fraser/Livingstone
Fraser/Livingstone has completed a tenement-like housing in Edinburgh

It was designed by Fraser/Livingstone as a contemporary addition to the historic site and marks Scotland’s first developer-led mass-timber residential development.

“Our chamfered form with big picture windows and lime-plastered masonry sits contemporary in the street and the south side of Edinburgh,” project architect Ayla Riom told Dezeen.

Exterior of Simon Square apartments by Fraser/Livingstone
The housing occupies a form builders’ yard

To retain the privacy of the surrounding houses following the removal of the sites boundary  wall, the studio created an angular form.

“Close proximity to the neighbours demanded a solution to avoid overlooking while also creating views and letting light in,” explained Riome.

“The resultant chamfered edges and saw-toothed rooms not only provide good outlooks but define centred, flexible rooms.”

Street view of Simon Square in Edinburgh
A brick shell encloses the apartments

The housing block’s structure was made from cross-laminated timber, which has been left exposed internally.

A brick shell wraps around this structure finished with a lime coating that hides the masonry and helps the building mimic its surroundings.

Apartment with exposed timber walls
It has a structural timber frame

The building’s position towards the north of the site creates space for a shared entrance court to the south. Inside, the tenement-style development comprises a total of six flats, with the two lower floors each featuring two one-bedroom apartments.

An additional one-bedroom apartment was located on the next floor, along with the lower level of a two-bedroom duplex, which extends to another storey and features a rooftop terrace.

All the rooms feature exposed timber walls, which the studio hopes will positively impact the well-being of the building’s residents.

“When solid timber is exposed internally, the D-limonene the timber gives out has been shown to produce calm environments, with occupants’ hearts beating slower, and stress reduced,” said Riome.

“Solid timber also locks-up carbon, in a big, solid way.”

Living room of Simon Square apartments by Fraser/Livingstone
All the rooms feature exposed timber walls

According to the studio, the development of Simon Square marks the first time heavy timber has been used in Scottish developer-led housing.

“We hope that Simon Square can act as an exemplar project in the drive to instigate a Scottish solid timber industry,” said Riome.

Bedroom with exposed timber walls
The wood is hoped to boost the wellbeing of the building’s residents

“Together with heavy timber construction, we hope we are pointing the way to a new, urban, local vernacular, with wellbeing and climate to the fore,” Riome added.

Other structural-timber projects recently featured on Dezeen include a mass-timber office in London by Waugh Thistleton Architects and a cloister-informed home extension in Islington.

The photography is by Fredrik Frendin.

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