Richard Murphy OBE: Architect

Two things influenced me to be an architect – one was that my family moved to a new development in the suburbs of Cheshire, and I was surrounded for what seemed like a very long time (but probably wasn’t!) by a building site.  I became fascinated by the construction and design process, aided by a longstanding love affair with Lego. At the grand old age of eight, our sitting room became my first practice premises.

I did intend to read Geography at University, but at the eleventh hour decided it was far too boring a subject and switched my allegiance to Architecture. After some years of lecturing and working as an employee in practices in London, Edinburgh and the West Indies, I made the life changing decision to start my own practice in 1991 – a decision I have never regretted, and the practice has grown from a couple of people to over thirty.  Why did I take the plunge? – a belief in my abilities, a knowledge that architecture had become such a passion that I would be prepared to work incredibly hard to achieve a successful practice –(owning a practice is a 24/7 commitment), and a need for autonomy to develop my personal design enthusiasms.

My place is a private housing project we did in Tron Square. It is inspired by a map of old Edinburgh from 1647 which shows a regular pattern of seven-metre-wide building ‘fingers’, from the Royal Mile down to the Cowgate, with narrow vertiginous closes between them. So, we created two thin parallel buildings which respect this ancient town plan. We also put in the kind of traditional ‘roofed rooms’ which have all but disappeared from the Old Town, in the form of maisonettes with double height living spaces which offer spectacular views of this beautiful city.