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Denizen Works lands approval for ‘new take’ on Scottish country house

  • 11 Comments

Hackney-based Denizen Works has won the go-ahead for a major new house overlooking Loch Awe in Dalmally, Argyll 

Described as ‘an exciting new take on the Scottish country house’, the 650m² scheme supersedes 20-year old plans for a smaller 140m² three-bedroom home on the plot.

While that scheme was never built, work did begian on the foundations ‘representing a meaningful start to the works’ and establishing the principle of residential development on the 42ha site, formerly a forestry plantation.

According to Denizen works’ founder Murray Kerr, the new seven-bedroom house ‘represents a big step forward for the practice in terms of scale of bespoke residential design’.

The scheme includes a number of large ‘entertainment spaces’ and a double-height main hall capable of housing a 5.4m-tall Christmas tree. Work is expected to start in November and complete in spring 2020. 

11 denizen works model view from south west

11 denizen works model view from south west

The architect’s view

As the site has no existing architectural context, we began by thinking about the characteristics of the site including the magnificent views over Loch Awe and a small lochan to the east of the site. The house serves to connect these two bodies of water.

We also looked back into Scottish architectural history and as a result the house is conceived as a sculpted, eroded solid inspired by Scottish country residences of the past. From brochs and tower houses, through baronial piles and Mackintosh, there is even the influence of a local malting works that inspired the play in scale evident on the approach to the house.

The house is designed around a central double-height hall, with ample room for the Christmas tree, enclosed by a protective inhabitable wall containing the primary accommodation. The sensitive west elevation is kept narrow with living and dining spaces having the prime views while the house stretches across the landscape to make the most of the southern sun with the two-storey bedroom wing.

The house will be finished in a rough, textured, large-scale harling with small areas of relief that will be provided by our take on pebbledash, in green slate, giving areas of accent to the house.

The landscape approach takes its cues from the historic Scottish castles which emerge from the rugged landscape with only small areas of external landscape treatment to allow spaces for our clients and their friends and family to sit in sunshine but sheltered from the west of Scotland wind.

The house is part of a wider masterplan for the site, which includes landscape proposals to reintroduce areas of woodland and open glades along with a games room and bridge down at the lochan designed to enhance our client’s relationship with the Scottish countryside.

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Project data

Location Dalmally, Argyll
Type of project New build house
Client Private
Architect Denizen Works
Structural engineer CRA
Mechanical and electrical Harley Haddow
Quantity surveyor Morham + Brotchie Partnership
Landscape architect John Richards Landscape Architects
Ecology consultant ECOS Countryside Services
Status Planning approval
Start on site date November 2018
Completion date Spring 2020
Gross internal floor area 650m²

Sire plan

Sire plan

  • 11 Comments

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Readers' comments (11)

  • very nice - well done Murray, great to see another small practice blossom

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  • For the life of me I can see no architectural merit in this design. Am I alone?

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  • In reply to above commenter. You are right, It's atrocious. Looks like something form the 70's. Burden on the landscape. Not sure about resale value, who will this appeal to anyone except original owner. Waste of precious land and views

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  • clearly I disagree with the above views and would live there happily in a heartbeat, each to their own...

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  • If Chris, you meet with a potential new client looking for a designer to create for him/her, a lovely new dwelling, I would most seriously suggest you do not present to them the subject design as being what you consider an example of architectural competency. I believe you would be unlikely to hear from them again.

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  • Ian, get a grip. This is the AJ not the Daily Mail. You too Penelope

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  • Denizen produce fine work. Interesting, well worked plan and section. Good luck with it.

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  • Really Alan, when a profession holds itself immune from criticism its demise must not be far off.
    Quite how a series of boxes cobbled together without seeming rhyme or reason can be admired by those who should have an eye for beauty, a sense of proportion and an understanding of the crafts and materials essential to their discipline, is beyond me.
    I will state it another way: This project is an indictment against the current state of the UK design industry.

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  • Denizen are one of the more interesting practices in the UK and their work is always human in scale, considered and driven by an understanding, often of Scotland and its landscapes. There is a reason they have been respected and rewarded to date and I expect this home to be as good as their previous work.

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  • Ian is correct that this sort of design is not everyone's cup of tea and that's fine. Plenty of our typical domestic clients (extensions to Victorian homes etc.) would hate it, but occasionally people come along that are looking for something different - I really enjoy those occasions. Architecture, fashion, taste is all subjective - it is in the variety and debate that joy can be found. I would never set out to talk down anyone else's perspective but instead am open to enjoying the difference. In this climate of planning and cost inhibiters to any kind of new home that doesn't mimic a 1930's bungalow I will continue to celebrate small victories for what I feel is progressive design. all the best

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