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- Category: B
- Date Added: 06/02/2007
- Local Authority: Edinburgh
- Planning Authority: Edinburgh
- Burgh: Edinburgh
National Grid Reference
- NGR: NT 19586 76433
- Coordinates: 319586, 676433
Morris and Steedman, 1955-7 with 1964 bedroom wing extension and later alteration to the garage; sun room and kitchen extension, Steve Yeoman McAllister, circa 1996. T-plan, single-storey, modern movement house composed of intersecting rectangles with oversailing flat roof pierced by rectangular sandstone rubble chimney and water tower on entrance elevation. Main range of building runs NW-SE; garden elevation to NE with continuous run of picture windows broken at centre by advanced 1996 sun room. Garage wing with deep bracketed eaves extends from centre of entrance (SW) elevation; sandstone rubble walls enclose area to right, forming entrance courtyard. White painted brickwork with some sandstone-rubble walling.
FURTHER DESCRIPTION: glazed entrance lobby situated in re-entrant angle under projecting eaves of garage within walled courtyard; floor-to-ceiling glazing to right, intersected by rubble tower containing sitting room fireplace, chimney and water tank. Brick-walled section to right of courtyard built 1964. Garage has slatted timber doors recessed between brick piers.
INTERIOR: hall and extension corridor with timber-boarded ceiling and cross-beams. Stone chimneypiece and recess in living room. Flush floor-to-ceiling painted timber internal doors throughout with lever handles. Fitted wardrobes in 1964 bedroom extension.
GARDEN WALLS AND TERRACES: random rubble walls create courtyard to front of house; stone trough set into wall on courtyard side; steps across courtyard currently covered by timber decking (2003). Low rubble boundary and retaining walls support terraces to garden.
Statement of Special Interest
Avisfield was Morris and Steedman's first commission and was one of the first modern-movement houses to be built in Scotland. It therefore holds an important place in the history and understanding of the development of Scottish architecture, and simultaneously reflects international architectural developments and tastes of the period. While it has been considerably extended, this has been done in a sympathetic manner that continues the original architectural intention. The larger part of these extensions were carried out by Morris and Steedman within 10 years of the of the house being built.
The practice of Morris and Steedman is recognised as a pioneer of modern architecture in Scotland. James Shepherd Morris (1931-2006) and Robert Russell Steedman (b.1929) both graduated in architecture from Edinburgh School of Art in 1955. They pursued further studies in landscape architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, studying under Philip Johnson. They were much influenced by Johnson and the ideals of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Marcel Breuer and Richard Neutra. The influence of Marcel Breuer and Frank Lloyd-Wright is particularly evident at Avisfield. They returned to Edinburgh and established their architectural practice in 1957. Avisfield was designed before they studied in America, and before their joint practice had formally come into being. Although they designed a number of large public and commercial commissions the practice was most recognised for its special contribution to domestic architecture during the 1950s, '60s and '70s.
Avisfield demonstrates a number of characteristics that are commonly found in Morris and Steedman's subsequent work and are typical of their approach to design. The architectural form is strikingly modern, while the use of high walls and local sandstone creates a Scottish emphasis and a sense shelter: James Morris considered that the courtyard was a particularly Scottish feature of design. The building and its landscape setting have been designed as a whole. Internally, the imaginative use of space and the use of timber panelling for ceilings also foreshadows later work.
Avisfield was built for Mr and Mrs Tomlinson at a total cost of £4950. The builder was A&P Johnson and the other contractors are listed in the Architect's Journal (see above).
Dean of Guild Drawings at Edinburgh City Archive, submitted and approved 1955. House in Cramond Road North, Architects Journal Jan 1st 1959, pp23-28 (includes building specification). Gifford, McWilliam & Walker, Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh (1984) p552. Information from the architects and current owners. Charles McKean, Edinburgh (RIAS Guide, 1992) p162. English Heritage Magazine, December 1992, Letter from Mr Tomlinson, p32. Fladmark, Mulvagh & Evans, Tomorrow's Architectural Heritage (1991) p161.
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