Morris and Steedman, 1966-67. Single storey Modernist houses comprising pair of square-plan dwellings with oversailing flat roofs; set in picturesque woodland setting. Painted render with sandstone ashlar copes. Deep base course stepped to rear; continuous horizontal arrangement of windows turning corners to W elevations. Recessed main doorways to E with overhanging roofs.
Predominantly plate glass in timber framed windows; some later French windows to SE elevation. Deep timber platform roof; capped aluminium flue and covered water tanks to centre.
INTERIOR: simple Modernist interior characterised by large areas of glazing and high ceilings. Main rooms opening off a central lobby and corridor, large open plan lounge and dining area. Kitchen to left of entrance with further door enfilade to dining room. Bedrooms to rear (W) with further bedroom to right (N) of entrance. Plain architraved doorcases and timber doors throughout. Some original floor to ceiling built in cupboards in bedrooms. No. 4 is a mirror image of the interior plan to No. 5 (as described above).
Statement of Special Interest
A-Group with the Principal's House, 2, 3 and 6, 7 Airthrey Castle Yard. An important example of post-War Modernist private houses by one of Scotland's most important practices of this period, who were leaders in avant-garde house design. The houses demonstrate an innovative linear plan which relates sensitively to its natural setting in a former walled policy of Airthrey Castle and set against a dramatic backdrop of crags and trees. These semi detached staff houses form an important group of bespoke Modernist houses with 2 other pairs of staff houses and the Principal's house (see separate listings). The original character and design is not significantly altered by later minor alteration. These houses demonstrate an interesting juxtaposition of plan form and their interior treatment is simple yet uses high quality materials and finishes.
The intervisibility of space which is a key component of the open-plan nature of the suite of houses is also a common theme within the work of Morris and Steedman. Particularly successful is how the space is conceived carefully to reveal both internal and external vistas.
The houses have a distinctive rectilinear form, which is emphasised by the oversailing roofs. The overtly Modernist form in its long low profile responds sensitively to the site, in woodland and set against a dramatic craggy backdrop, a device common throughout the work of Morris and Steedman.
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 before pursuing further studies in landscape architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia where they studied under Philip Johnson. This understanding of landscape and architecture is akin to the Japanese tradition and can be seen in their sensitive reaction to site in their designs. Relevant comparisons can be made to their houses at Ravelston Dykes, Edinburgh; Avisfield, Edinburgh; Kevock Road, Lasswade. Their design philosophy was also much influenced by the American work of Johnson and the ideals of Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe, Marcel Breuer and Richard Neutra. They returned to Edinburgh to establish their architectural practice in 1957. Although they designed a number of high profile public buildings the practice was best known for its special contribution to domestic architecture during the 1950s, 60s and 70s usually working closely with enlightened clients.