There hasn’t been a new update for a while – We’ve been very busy with multiple on-site projects, multiple planning applications and the ever-increasing pile of admin that keeps glaring at me across the office. I’ll see about hiring someone to try and organise it all but until then I’ll just try and avoid it as best I can. This month sees the on-site project at Achara House Hotel expand in scope again, The Farm Shop and Restaurant in Renfrewshire get planning permission as well as its funding, a couple of small-project completion certificates issued and a few unexpected projects come back on-line. However this week’s focus is the impending completion to two projects we have been documenting on these page; The Treehouse at Monachyle Mhor and the Lodges at Invertrossachs. It never fails to amaze me how complex simple things usually become. A small building is that much harder as there is almost no part of it you can delegate to another design team member – hence a degree of relief at getting our teeth into some larger projects over the winter months. However as we are gluttons for punishment we still have a few accelerated timescale micro-projects to finish for the early 2020 season – so plenty more remote, soaking wet and freezing site meetings on the horizon…however all I need to do is remember my long-forgotten 8am commute on the Central Line to remind myself that this is living the dream!
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.
The project searching for a name now seems to have a name: In the Trees. This three storey experimental building was bought on eBay after a lengthy stint in London, Ljubljana and Milan. It appeared on a George Clark’s Amazing Spaces and was hailed as a future model for urban living. That last statement is somewhat delusional as only someone very small, sober and lonely would want to live in a 22 sq M three storey tower with ladder access between floors and a tiny stainless steel toilet / shower cubicle that was straight from Wormwood Scrubs. Also that imaginary diminutive urban dweller would have to place his “LivingUnit” somewhere it didn’t rain…and seeing as it has now landed in one of the wettest corners of western Europe - some re-configuring was on the cards. I’ll detail the whole saga in a later post when we are finally finished but suffice to say; its been a challenge moving, locating, extending and re-configuring this structure for regular, repeated use. In the Trees is now fully waterproof, has a discrete extension with a proper bathroom and most importantly it now has a proper, usable staircase. As it is to function as an annex bedroom to the renowned Monachyle Mhor Hotel it is being fitted out to a high-end hospitality standard and will be available to rent from the end of July 2019. Watch this space!