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. 


So…its that time of year again. Hospitality projects striving to be ready for the season, being built in challenging locations in terrible weather. You would think we’d be used to it by now but the mental fortitude required to live in the West of Scotland always leads one to be overly optimistic about the weather. Last year it was The Beast from the East but this year its a quagmire one minute, bone dry the next, followed by gale force winds and now this weekend pushing 20 degrees. Frankly, its now beginning to get a little concerning and it seems like Al Gore was, inconveniently right. So when the sh*t hits the fan at least our new lodges in Invertrossachs have tonnes of chopped and stacked firewood, an independent water supply, plenty of food (wildlife) passing through the site and far enough away from major settlements to be comfortable…Must stop watching the Walking Dead. 

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