Thurs 24th September

A 5am start. Dropped the car off at Exeter airport and joined the flight to Edinburgh where another hire car awaits, and we set off for Perth…

A New Country House

Given the commanding panoramic views of the surrounding countryside it is no surprise that the elevated hillside location of this, our first house of the day, near Perth, has been the site of a dwelling for at least five centuries, and probably a great deal longer.

If you were a wealthy landowner and wanted to keep an eye on who was coming to depose you, whether they be newly landed from mainland Europe, the English from down south, or raiders from the Highlands to the north, you couldn’t pick a better spot to protect you and your own.

Appropriately then, this new house – at least the third to occupy the site – is built in the Scots Baronial style, an architectural movement that began in the mid 18th century which revived the defensive towers and battlements of the castles and tower houses of past.

A tall conical roofed tower standing in the garden – all that remains of an earlier house in the same style that burnt down in the early 20th century – providing the inspiration for the design.

With its painted harling (roughcast) clad walls, beautiful carved stone door surrounds, towers and battlements, it appears to be a traditional solid stone structure, but is in fact built using modern lightweight timber frame construction, and is a well insulated, highly energy efficient building.

Although it appears grand and imposing, at 650m2 this house is more on the scale of a large country house than a castle. Its dominant massing is the result of its traditional narrow, single room deep footprint, and steeply pitched roof which results in a high ridge line.

In fitting with a traditional country house, the interiors are elegantly proportioned, with period plaster mouldings, panelled doors and traditional paint colours.

There is a vast dining hall, spacious open plan kitchen breakfast room, and a grand drawing room. Designed on a split level there is also a lower ground floor flat reached via a spiral staircase.

Although most of the reception rooms are on the ground floor, there is also a very large games room on the first floor, complete with billiards table.

An Upside Down Suburban Eco Home

A drive across the beautiful Southern Highlands took us to the north of Glasgow to Bearsden, one of the city’s nicer suburbs and the location of the second house of the day.

Built in place of a ramshackle bungalow within a road of two storey houses, this contemporary style two storey property sits on a sloping site and backs onto a small park that marks the route of the Antonine Wall – built in 140-142 AD and once the frontier of the Roman Empire.

The owners set out to create a low maintenance, energy efficient family home on a relatively modest budget and the flat roofed upside down house, built using permanent insulated formwork construction has achieved just that.

The design is built over three storeys, with a semi basement garage built into the slope of the site, bedrooms at ground floor/garden level and a large, open plan kitchen, dining and living space on the top floor, enjoying remarkable views over the countryside and almost the whole of the city of Glasgow in the distance.

Highly insulated and extremely airtight, the house is heated via an air to water heat pump located at the end of the garden, which powers a warm water underfloor heating system.

This is a good model for future urban housing. The deisgn is sustainable in every way. Highly energy efficient, it also makes the very most of a relatively small footprint thanks to its multi-storey design, and maximum use of its built volume because of the rooms within the flat roofspace.

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