Simpson & Brown Architects with Addyman Archaeology

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26-31 Charlotte Square

26-31 Charlotte Square

26-31 Charlotte Square

26-31 Charlotte Square

26-31 Charlotte Square

26-31 Charlotte Square

26-31 Charlotte Square

26-31 Charlotte Square

26-31 Charlotte Square

26-31 Charlotte Square

These houses form two-thirds of the Palace Front designed by Robert Adam for the south side of Charlotte Square shortly before his death in 1792 and were built between 1805 and 1820.  They are all of five storeys, including a basement and an attic and are of the standard three bay Edinburgh New Town house type.

Simpson & Brown was commissioned in July 1996 to repair and restore them, with their related buildings in Hope Street Lane, and make them into a new Headquarters for the National Trust for Scotland.  It was part of the brief that the project was to demonstrate that houses in the first New Town could be well repaired and restored on the one hand and make efficient, well-serviced offices on the other.

The buildings were in poorer condition than their appearance suggested and they had been damaged by ill-considered alterations, mostly in the previous thirty years. Extensive repairs were therefore necessary to put them into good condition. They were linked together by a spine corridor at basement level and completely new services were installed, including containment for power, computer and communications cabling.

Systematic archaeological recording of the existing fabric, including paint investigation, uncovered much new information about the construction and decoration of houses in the First New Town. The exteriors were left relatively unaltered but the interiors were transformed. Good secondary work was retained, a stone pencheck stair was restored in No. 26 and nearly all of the rooms were repaired using lime plaster on timber laths. Many architectural details were restored including the bow ends of rooms, chimneypieces, grates, cornices, dados, door and window ironmongery, and decorative finishes. All the front doors were used, with the principal public entrance at the centre of the terrace, leading to the main reception desk, shop and tearoom, with a gallery in the rooms above.

Project name: 26-31 Charlotte Square
Client name: National Trust for Scotland
Awards & nominations: Europa Nostra Award (2000)
EAA Bronze Medal Commendation for 26-31 Charlotte Square (1999)
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