Whimsical Edinburgh home is RIBA House of the Year

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced Thursday 15 December 2016 that Murphy House in Edinburgh by Richard Murphy Architects is the 2016 RIBA House of the Year, sponsored by Hiscox Home Insurance.

This five-level house is a surprising addition to an otherwise conservative sandstone terraced street in Edinburgh’s UNESCO-listed New Town. Built on an awkward plot at the end of a terrace, Richard Murphy has designed for himself a deeply personal space filled with tricks, surprises and references to his own design heroes.  From a hidden bath in the master bedroom and a folding corner wall, to sliding bookshelf ladders that glide around the subterranean library, this house is filled with a unique and spirited charm. Murphy, inspired by the work of the late Carlo Scarpa, a 20th century Italian architect has created a house full of pure, beautiful craftsmanship.

RIBA President Jane Duncan said:

“The Murphy House is this year’s best example of how to overcome challenging constraints – from planning restrictions and an awkward site in an urban location – to build a stunning house. Plus the architect overcame one of the biggest obstacles: a demanding client – himself!

“Nearly a decade in the making, this house is a true labour of love for Richard. Part jigsaw puzzle, with its hidden and unexpected spaces, and part Wallace and Gromit with its moving pieces and disappearing walls, this is a model house of pure perfection and a worthy winner of the RIBA House of the Year 2016.”

Richard Murphy said:

“We celebrated our 25th birthday last month and to receive this award is a wonderful present with such astonishing levels of public interest. It’s our 21st RIBA award, and takes its place in a long line of awards for buildings small and large and for whole variety of types including domestic, educational, health, arts and a new British Embassy. It emphasises yet again that the practice demonstrates both great versatility and consistently high quality in all its work current and past. It’s been a huge pleasure to develop a lifetime’s themes and now it gives me great pleasure to live there.”

House of the Year judge, Philip Thorn from Hiscox said:

“Murphy House was a real box of tricks with a unique, playful character. Although a small property, it was deceivingly large inside due to the clever use of space. Every room contained a surprise and the attention to detail was exceptional. The roof terrace was a real oasis of calm and I loved the long list of environmentally friendly touches. A true pleasure to visit and I would imagine a lot of fun to live in.”

Also announced this evening was the seventh and final home shortlisted for the RIBA House of the Year: Tin House in west London by Henning Stummel Architects. The full shortlist for the 2016 RIBA House of the Year award is:

  • Ansty Plum, Wiltshire by Coppin Dockray
  • Covert House, Clapham, south London by DSDHA
  • Garden House in Hackney, east London by Hayhurst and Co
  • Modern Mews in central London by Coffey Architects
  • Murphy House, New Town, Edinburgh by Richard Murphy Architects
  • Outhouse, Forest of Dean by Loyn & Co Architects
  • Tin House in west London, by Henning Stummel Architects

The RIBA House of the Year is sponsored by Hiscox Home Insurance and Paint and Paper Library.