We’re always on the lookout for interesting things to do – architecture as a job is only as interesting as you make it…sit staring at a screen all day, drawing door schedules is certainly a part of architecture but it’s a part we actively avoid. Now, persuading one of your clients to buy a silly three storey experimental building, transporting it from London to Balquhidder along an 8-mile single track road and off-loading it with a telehandler plainly too small for the task – we like that! So, we are now contemplating a building that was clearly assembled for show and not for use and we are tasked with turning it into an upscale hotel room, safe for users to navigate after a six-course dinner and making it capable of withstanding a highland’s winter (it was designed for the much friendly climes of Milan and Ljubianja). So that means a proper staircase, heating and a luxury bathroom – all for end of March please? Who said this job was boring?

2019 works

A lot of our projects that are coming up for construction design and moving onto site are all in the tourism/hospitability sectors and therefore need to be ready for the 2019 season…which, needless to say, doesn’t leave us a whole lot of time! The project shown here has recently been granted planning permission and will be moving through the next stage of statutory approvals as fast as we can drag it – and unsurprisingly this desire for speed is something that influences the detailed design. With this project we are trying to create a very low impact tourist development that will be part of a small scale re-wilding process where the rest of the site will be cleared of invasive species and replanted with a mix of native woodland species. This re-wilding process is going to be somewhat disrupted by a 20 ton digger rolling around the site as well as endless concrete pours and heavy material drops. Therefore, we are going to try and move forward with a very low impact, driven foundation solution that will mean no concrete, no rising walls and hopefully a working platform with a week or two. Unusually for us – the entire building will be timber with only a few essential bits of steel – so a little bit more experimentation that we’re used to (or necessarily happy with!) but difficult sites call for simple solutions…

More odd shapes in the landscape

A lot of our work is in the tourism sector, and a lot of it is located in remote parts of Scotland (…remote if you’re from Glasgow). There has been a sharp interest from land and business owners in these locations to provide innovative and one-off accommodation to satisfy market demand. Plenty of people have opined that the rise of the “camping pod” is a bubble that will result in gross over supply and lots of empty rooms. My opinion would be that the Scottish rural economy has been so under-developed for decades, relying on a very narrow range of visitors that either came to shoot the wildlife or see none of it from a coach. Neither demograph spending much time or more critically, much money in the wider rural economy. The sudden opening up of the landscape through the 2006 Land Reform (Scotland) Act has merely allowed the Scottish rural economy to begin to catch up with its European rivals - and lets not forget that tourism is a competitive game. A recent trip to the West coast of Ireland shows how far Scotland has to go to develop their tourism industry – Scotland has some of the best scenery in the world, some of the best food, drink and hospitality – it just needs people out there enjoying it and then telling all their friends…and they all need somewhere spectacular to stay. Which brings me on to our next project, pictured below. Its a series of architecturally one-off lodges located up in the tree canopy looking our over the Scottish landscape – we’ll not say where for now as we are in the pre-app process but lets just say that it’s a stunning location - and before anyone else says it, a tip of the hat to one of my favourite buildings; The Goulding House by Ronnie Tallon

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