2020s growing list of things to do…

So 2020 has a lot going on - and as usual no unifying themes. Above is a small selection of projects with passable CGIs that are currently undergoing detail design for 2020 site starts - We have an invisible bothy, a monopitch lodge, a disused public toilet in the east end  being converted into a mock hebridean croft, another large lodge with yet another sedum roof, a very large house with a lot of stonework and (guess what?)  another lodge with another sedum roof. On top of all this there is the old tin tabernacle and its new modern twin, some listed building renovations, some large domestic remodels/refurbishments and plenty of feasibility works. As architects are the canary in the coalmine for economic downturns - I don’t think we’ve hit gas yet (but one should never tempt fate, so I’m still perfecting my barista skills on the big Gaggia!) 

The end of 2019’s big headache….

In The Trees at Monachyle is now finally finished and what started off as an idle peruse through ebay has now finally come to life as a new top end hotel suite at one of Scotland’s finest hotels. Its worth recapping what was involved to bring a disassembled exhibition piece from a storage yard outside London and transform it into a highland retreat… 

Firstly transporting the pieces up an eight mile single track road and unloading them on a windy winter’s day. Making the pieces water proof for the winter while we figured out where to put it, how to put it back together, how we would add an ensuite bathroom and entrance area, how we would get rid of the ladders and cram in a staircase, heat it, get hot water to it, make it usable and desirable for discerning hotel guests etc etc. Fast forward to today and we’ve solved all the problems and created a luxurious and very individual hotel suite, with biomass power, room for four guests (more likely two guests and their children!) and a top floor snug lounge that is a great a place as any in Scotland to enjoy a wee dram! 

Another fantastically interesting, complex, frustrating and exciting little project – thanks to all involved, from our patient clients, the ever resourceful Lewis Brothers & Skinny, Fiona Denholm, Nic & Franc, Ghillie & Willie. We’re already giving the next stupid idea some legs. 


Shingles (cedar, larch, chestnut etc): A material I have often admired but never had occasion to use before. The picture above is one of our forest lodges overlooking Loch Venachar in the Trossachs and these tall forms within an ancient woodland were the perfect form to experiment with shingles. Firstly, cedar shingles are rare in this country but as ubiquitous as the Marley rooftile in America – so while they are a new material to us, they most certainly are not a new material. We like to try new things – but the most important maxim for experimentation with building materials: Never be First. In fact, best not be in the first hundred as in all aspects of life – best to learn from other’s mistakes and not your own. Enough folksy wisdom on newness – The cedar shingles were chosen here for their ability to quickly become a very visually varied, natural, weathered surface that will allow these tall and angular forms to disappear into the textures and shades of the surrounding forest. There’s a place for  bright and sparking materiality; an ancient woodland in a highly scenic area of a very widely loved national park certainly isn’t the place - so picking shingles was as easy as it was obvious. Also…the fact the cedar shingles were considerably less expensive than similarly performing timber cladding was just an added bonus. 

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