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Best use of timber 2015 shortlist – Highland Steading

Name of building
Highland Steading
Date Completed
January 2014
Building type
Private House
Marcus Lee and cameronwebster architects
Main contractor

W.H Brown Ltd, Dundee, Hadden Construction Ltd, Perthshire


The Project

The client was keen to make more of this site, which the existing Victorian farmhouse and its many clumsy extensions did not address. The architects were given the brief to demolish the existing house and reconfigure the surrounding steading to create a series of spaces to accommodate the extended family and friends for holidays and weekend walking parties, based on a sketch design by Marcus Lee.

The steading courtyard was retained, which allowed the new building to utilise the level change and create a distinction between the luxurious living accommodation to the front of the house and the service accommodation to the rear. The kitchen extends along the entrance axis with views to the west and also to the grassed courtyard above.

The service accommodation creates a generous series of spaces to allow for changing into walking clothes, storage of boots and equipment and drying rooms. The large public rooms in the south-facing front of the house are linked by an interconnected group of rooms formed by sliding doors and are set lower than the entrance level, to give direct exposure to views of the surrounding landscape. The bedrooms are accessed by a grand stair in the main central space and at each turn there is a view captured through carefully placed windows. The bathrooms are located above the central cores, allowing the mechanical and electrical services to be efficiently considered. High-level windows within the internal bathrooms allow for dramatically reflected views to the hilltops and sky through mechanically operated mirrors.

Use of Timber

Vertical Siberian larch cladding has been used externally on the prominent new elevation of the house, contrasting with the horizontal and irregular nature of the adjacent stone wall. The construction type is timber frame throughout with engineered timber beams for cantilevers. The architects were keen to avoid the use of a steel frame structure in the project.

Materials are used in the project partly to denote the use of space. The materiality both internally and externally of service spaces used for changing into walking clothes, boot storage and equipment drying rooms is kept simple with vertically clad untreated larch. The internal timber boarding to the core areas is painted softwood. This use of timber is mirrored in the central separating cores which are clad in vertical boarding and contain a pantry, AV storage, and a cloakroom. They incorporate large doors along their sides to allow the public rooms to be closed off from the kitchen area. The games room interior has been clad in beech ply.

The internal flooring and stair is wide oak engineered board with a white wash oil finish. Oak was chosen for the light tone and it was finished with a white wash to tone down towards the weathered larch colour.

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