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Moxon completes home among 18th-century ruins in Scotland


The 246m² energy-efficient home sits on an 18th-century site in the heart of the Scottish Cairngorms

Sitting among the ruins of an 18th-century‘ fermtown’, Drummargettie is a new-build home in the heart of the Cairngorms, Scotland.

The existing three ruined farm buildings on the site have informed the alignment, scale and proportion of the new home. The building envelope and openings have been orientated to frame spectacular views across the Upper Dee Valley

A downward, bi-angular sloping zinc roof flows over the home’s internal spaces to match the site’s topography, creating a low roofline which runs parallel to the landscape’s contours.

Drumargettie ©moxon architects 3k8a4502

The clients – a professor in energy economics and a concert-level musician – are both keen hikers and played a big role in informing the brief. Inside, a linear plan is split across three stepped levels. The entrance spaces are covered by a low-lying heather roof while the sloping zinc roof flows over the rear of the building in which there are the living and kitchen spaces.

East-facing clerestory glazing between the two roof structures gives glimpses of the sky and brings light into the central hallway.

The house extends along a narrow space between the existing ruins. It is accessed through an open entrance area facing the east of the site, past the restored remains of old granite.

A fabric-first approach has been taken to ensure the building’s high energy performance. Extensive over-insulation is combined with triple glazing and an underfloor heating system fed by a ground source heat pump. The house is served by a MVHR  (mechanical ventilation with heat recovery) system, allowing for maximum air-tightness .

All materials and construction materials have been sourced locally. The house has been constructed out of timber-frame and is finished with a palette of weathered larch boards, granite, caithness slate and a native heather roof.

Drumargettie ©moxon architects 3k8a4985


Architect’s view

There are several unique aspects to this project but, above all, it was the beautiful setting that governed the design approach. It was clear from the first site visit that a key challenge would be to deliver a home for our clients which is not only functional and suited to their way of life, despite the relatively remote location, but also one that respects and responds to the wild landscape in which it is set.

It was important for the building to adopt a low-key posture in relation to the surroundings and this is reflected in the ground-hugging form and simple range of materials. The internal spaces are arranged in a way that allows occupants to experience the shifting light and a range of different views, from panoramas in the living and dining rooms to views of tree lines and sky through the hallway clerestory and more selective glimpses which suit the intimate spaces of the bedrooms and study.

In terms of obtaining consents, the historic use of the site as farmstead enabled us to make the case for a new dwelling on the site. The local authority was receptive to the landscape-led approach and the use of primarily low-carbon materials. Meanwhile, the ongoing sympathetic restoration of the old ruins demonstrates care and appreciation for the historic character of the site and its context.

Jamie Kinghorn, project architect, Moxon

Moxon architects ltd drummargettie ground floor plan

Ground floor plan

Project data

Start on site 2017
Completion date 2019
Gross internal floor area 246m²
Gross (internal + external) floor area 270m²
Form of contract or procurement route Traditional
Construction cost Undisclosed
Architect Moxon Architects
Client Private
Structural engineer Graeme Craig Consulting Engineer
Quantity surveyor Alan Crichton Chartered Quantity Surveyor
Project manager AJC Contracting
Contract administrator Moxon Architects
CDM coordinator Moxon Architects
Approved building inspector Aberdeenshire Council Building Standards
Main contractor AJC Contracting
CAD software used Revit, AutoCAD, 3D Studio Max

Environmental performance data

Annual mains water consumption Spring water source
Airtightness at 50pa 3.04 m3/h.m2
Overall area-weighted u-value 0.13 w/m2k
Annual CO2 emissions 18.2 KgCO2eq/m2

Moxon architects ltd drummargettie 3d axonometrics

Axonometric views


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