Rule-breaking geometry and gravity-defying living space set this Stirlingshire new-build apart – yet it somehow all adds up to an impressively harmonious whole
The Watershed, a newly built house in Stirlingshire, is in one respect literally what its name suggests: a barn-like structure that sits next to a body of water – in this case, an understated little waterfall. On a symbolic level, however, it is also something of a watershed for owners Alastair and Nicola Pickard, who gave up their life in London and headed north to build on this picturesque plot of grazing land that had long belonged to Alastair’s family.
“We were renting in London, and trying to buy a house there, but property prices were going through the roof. It was impossible. So we decided to look at moving up to Scotland, with a view to building our own home,” explains Alastair. “I own an event production company but I also have a civil engineering degree, so the idea of building a house of our own really appealed to me. At the end of 2010 we decided to go for it.”
“Going for it” involved initially looking at a range of kit houses before he and Nicola decided that the unique site required a bespoke solution. This led them to ATA Studio, a Glasgow-based architecture practice.
ATA presented the Pickards with six design options, the most ambitious of which included a cantilevered element. “I was very excited by the cantilever idea,” says Alastair. “The idea of sitting in the living area and looking out at the waterfall really appealed to me. I thought it was a very exciting opportunity to make the most of the site.”
Before the design was submitted to the planning department, some tweaks and refinements were made by both the Pickards and architects, as Alastair explains. “We ended up with a ‘pop-out bedroom’ on the upper level – which is now our daughter Isla’s room. This emerged out of our desire to have four bedrooms. But if we had made the house any bigger, it would have dramatically increased the cost. So this was a clever little solution that the architect Graeme Andrew came up with.”
The house, built in a linear barn style, sits perpendicular to the cliff edge with an even cantilever.
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Words Caroline Ednie
Photography David Barbour
What A new-build home in Stirlingshire
Architect ATA Studio, 0141 572 0957
Build John Miller Contruction, with Kingspan TEK supplied by SIPS@Clays
Size 190m2 over two floors