BLOG: Retrofitting heritage: the evolution of 107 Niddrie Road
Published: 27 Nov, 2023

While it may not seem so at first glance, 107 Niddrie Road in Glasgow’s inner south side stands out as a compelling example of a deep retrofit of a pre-1919 sandstone tenement.

Unfolding over the last four years, the eight flats within the block now house tenants who benefit from high levels of thermal warmth, considerably reduced energy bills and wider property improvements.

Autumn 2019

The journey began in the autumn of 2019 when Southside Housing Association (SHA) embarked on a research-backed initiative, aligning with the city council’s strategic housing policies. Supported by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), the objective was clear — initiate the retrofit of 107 Niddrie Road, a standard Glasgow tenement constructed in 1895. The aim was to showcase energy-efficient retrofitting standards, focusing on achieving the EnerPHit level version of Passivhaus.

Spring 2021

Commencing construction in Spring 2021, the project encountered practical challenges, including delays attributed to the global pandemic affecting all aspects of the project, including funding and planning permission. Guided by a fabric-first approach, the retrofit integrated practical solutions such as heat pumps, efficient boilers, and internal and external insulation.

The delicate equilibrium between modernisation and preservation required hands-on measures. The use of lime plaster and wood fibre insulation addressed moisture risks while maintaining airtightness, blending modern methods and natural materials with the historic sandstone frontage.

Spring 2022

By Autumn 2022, the retrofit reached completion, unveiling eight energy-efficient flats. The project achieved its main objectives. While the sandstone exterior has been repaired and enhanced, the interior has transformed into a modern, sustainable living environment.

Summer 2023

As tenants settled in and came to terms with their new housing, 107 Niddrie Road demonstrates that this kind of deep impactful retrofit, even in a sandstone tenement, is perfectly possible.

Autumn 2023

On September 19 2023, the voco Grand Central Hotel hosted the “Beyond Niddrie Road: Retrofit Solutions for Older Housing” event, where key stakeholders delved into the practical lessons derived from the project to an audience of over 200 people.

Evaluation, both technically and in terms of occupancy experience, continues.

Prof Ken Gibb, the evaluation’s principal investigator, summarised the project: 

“The project and its evaluation has demonstrated what is possible in terms of retrofit, even in our old tenements. While this was an expensive project, it is technically achievable, it has generated significant reduction in fuel bills, and provided ongoing evidence of performance and costs verus benefits, as well as other practical and strategic lessons.”

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