Murphy House comprises 165 sq m (1,776 sq ft) of floorspace, spread over five levels(Credit: Keith Hunter)
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced the winner of its prestigious 2016 House of the Year competition. From a shortlist of 20 British homes, Murphy House, by Richard Murphy Architects, has been declared the best. A relatively small and energy-efficient home in Edinburgh, it was lauded by the judges for its playful character, and for overcoming the constraints of a tricky site.
The difference between last year's winner and this year is pronounced. Whereas the former is a sombre, though beautiful piece of architecture fit for a Rothschild, Murphy House seems a lot more down to earth. The architect himself likened it to the kind of home Wallace and Gromit might live in, on account of its many hidden secrets.
The home measures 165 sq m (1,776 sq ft) of floorspace, spread over five floors, and is located on a cramped 11 x 6 m (36 x 19 ft) plot in Edinburgh's UNESCO-listed New Town. Its exterior design is influenced by Venetian architecture, but also references the local Georgian architecture.
Inside, architect and owner Richard Murphy installed pulleys and levers, which re-arrange sections of wall to open up the home to the sun. Sliding bookshelf ladders glide around the small subterranean library, and a hidden bath is located in the master bedroom. Even the little touches like the hidden postbox help increase the character of this charming home.
Murphy paid some attention to energy-efficiency too, and the home features a solar array on the roof that reduces its grid-based electricity requirements. A high-tech air-circulation system ensures fresh airflow throughout, and rainwater is collected and used for the toilet and the sprinkler system. Heat from a log-burning stove is also piped to pre-heat hot water.
"Nearly a decade in the making, this house is a true labour of love for Richard," says RIBA President Jane Duncan. "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."