Murray Place, Barrhead


Murray Place close up

Project lead
Ken Shepherd, Hanover Scotland Housing Association

Building type, sector and stage
Domestic, social rented for the elderly, in use performance, Scotland

'Breathing Wall', Passive Solar, Solar Thermal, Fabric First

At the beginning of a two-year monitoring programme

Murray Place

This is a development of 16 amenity cottages, flats and houses for rent to older people comprising 
7 two storey houses, 5 single storey cottages and 4 flats in two terraced blocks. The cottages and houses are of timber frame construction and incorporate a vapour permeable construction (sometime referred to as a ‘breathing wall') in the external cavity walls, the aim of which is to provide excellent U-Values whilst maintain good air quality. Flats are of traditional masonry construction to assist with noise separation.
The site is relatively flat, and the dwellings have been positioned to reflect the sun path during the course of the day and to achieve direct solar gain. The single storey cottages have been placed to the southern part of the site, with the two storey houses and flats to the northern end, thereby minimising overshadowing and ensuring advantage is taken of any available sunlight.

The development takes a fabric first approach to energy reduction, minimising active systems and utilising passive systems such as solar orientation with seasonal shading, natural ventilation and ‘breathing wall' construction. SAP calculations indicate energy consumption of between 100 - 125 kWh/m2/pa. Designed U-values are 0.21 W/m2oC for the ‘breathing wall' and 0.25 W/m2oC for the blockwork walls
The single storey and two storey elements enclose a landscaped courtyard, which will modify the micro-climate in this sheltered space. The two storey dwellings have a decorative galvanised steel trellis which acts as a frame for the growth of planting. This will provide a natural modification of solar gain throughout the course of the year, with maximum solar gain when the winter sun is low and the branches are bare, and maximum shading when the plants are in leaf and the sun is high in summer.

Tenants took occupation in January 2011. Proposed measures to reduce energy consumption whilst maintaining a high quality environmental will be examined in this study over a 2 year period.

The buildings are being evaluated by the Mackintosh Environmental Architecture Research Unit (MEARU, contact The study will examine the difference in energy and environmental performance between the different dwelling and construction types, and assess the overall performance and benefits of a passive approach in a building of this type of tenure.