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Edinburgh World Heritage/Gilmour’s Close Affordable Housing

Gilmour’s Close Affordable Housing

Gilmour's Close Affordable Housing

17 energy efficient affordable homes in two refurbished tenement buildings, and restored shopfronts on the Grassmarket.


Energy Efficiency & Conservation

Gilmour's Close Affordable Housing project

Gilmour’s Close refurbishment project was carried out by Assist Architects for Hillcrest Housing Association in collaboration with Edinburgh World Heritage (through the Conservation Funding Programme, funded by Historic Environment Scotland), the Energy Saving Trust and the City of Edinburgh Council in 2009.

The project made available 17 new energy efficient affordable homes in two refurbished tenement buildings that were previously disused. Ten of the flats were reserved as specialist accommodation for particularly vulnerable youths. Shopfronts to commercial premises at the ground floor were also restored.

Throughout the building, heritage conservation and sustainability measures harmonise where original features were retained and upgraded to provide higher energy efficiency.

Independent Housing awarded the project Sustainable Social Housing Refurbishment Project of the Year 2009 and the judges were pleased to see such a successful renewable energy project in the heart of the historic Edinburgh Old Town with consideration to its sensitive qualities as a World Heritage Site.

Edinburgh World Heritage directly funded conservation works to the exterior of the building, rebuilding carved stone chimneys to restore the original skyline and repairing stonework on the original crowstepped gables as well as the historic shop fronts on the Grassmarket façade.

The new energy saving measures included a ground source heat pump providing hot water for under-floor heating. The historic wall building materials were complemented with multiple layers of insulation to minimise heat-loss and sash and case windows have been retained and supplemented with secondary glazing. Natural heating was achieved through the addition of sun-spaces on the south facing rear elevation and a heat recovery system spread the hot air through the building.

“This was excellent in the face of constraints of site, building type and heritage. Good design while solving the technical challenges. This scheme took a historical building with issues and got good sustainable solutions.”

Judges comments

Sustainable Social Housing Refurbishment Project of the Year 2009


Sustainability principles

This was one of the first Edinburgh World Heritage projects to demonstrate that sustainability principles and conservation practices can be complementary. At the heart of all our conservation work is the idea that a building should first and foremost be wind and watertight – and this is very much in keeping with the ideas of energy efficiency. Our learnings from Gilmour's Close have gone on to inform other similar projects.


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