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Edinburgh World Heritage/Projects/Things are heating up at the Canongate Housing Development

Things are heating up at the Canongate Housing Development

Yann Grandgirard

1st August 2018

Yann Grandgirard

Earlier this year, Edinburgh World Heritage launched an innovative new project to improve the energy efficiency of the Canongate Housing Development, alongside undertaking vital conservation work on this Category B-listed building, designed by Sir Basil Spence.

Completed in 1969, there is a great opportunity to upgrade the blocks to meet modern environmental standards. Doing so will reduce the high cost of heating apartments, and ensure the building is wind and watertight. Head over to our project page for more background on the project.

In April, we helped flat and commercial unit owners and business leaseholders to appoint a design team who are in charge of delivering the new measures that will be introduced to Block 2.

Block 2 south elevation © Canmore

A multi-disciplinary team has been chosen, led by John Gilbert Architects from Glasgow and composed of structural engineers, services engineers and quantity surveyors, amongst others.

A holistic, evidence-based approach has been adopted for this project. For the design phase, this means relying on cutting-edge technology that helps us understand the building’s behaviour and its defects.

So far, the design team has carried out (either directly or supervised others) various surveys, ranging from condition surveys to CO² monitoring, U-value measurements, airtightness tests and thermal imaging. Investigations are also ongoing to study the reinstatement of the original windows with upgraded energy performances as well as redefining the original colour scheme designed by Basil Spence at the time of the construction, in the late 60s.

These results will feed into the design team’s strategy to treat the current issues and propose bespoke solutions.

Block 2 through a thermographic camera © IRT Surveys

View of a living room © Canmore

Block 2’s current colour scheme (above) and possible original one (below) © JGA

In parallel, participants also appointed three property managers to represent them and act on their behalf during the design phase.

In May, funding options were presented in line with energy efficiency and conservation measures.

In June, the design team presented their findings to participants. The presentation was an opportunity to explain their whole approach, present their findings and link them to the measures they propose to implement in the coming weeks.

In July, the design team presented possible technical packages of measures, their related costs and an outline of the funding package, including financial contributions from the owners.

These meetings are an opportunity for the owners and leaseholders to express their views, ask questions and help shaping the future outcomes of the project.


Possible insulation strategy to the building’s envelope © JGA

Meeting with the design team and the property owners and leaseholders in June 2018

The design process continues on to the next stage, which will see the team investigate further and shape the technical packages of measures.

More to come!

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