This expansive new-build is a brilliant example of the benefits of making your house as eco-friendly as possible
Finding the balance between creating something that is both sensitive to its surroundings but which also packs a punch as a stand-alone structure is a tricky business. Nevertheless, when dealing with rural locations especially, finding a way to preserve what exists and sympathetically create something new that responds to the demands of modern life is a task increasingly being faced by contemporary architects.
The people behind Aberdeen-based architecture and design practice JAMstudio have become accustomed to the quirks and characteristics of the landscape of north-eastern Scotland. The award-winning team work all over the UK but have a particularly strong portfolio of projects in this relatively unspoiled corner of the country. Their most recent commission – a new-build home within a private estate in rural Aberdeenshire – came with clear instructions. The clients wanted a totally new home that would not only respect its surrounding environment but give them a setting in which to enjoy an active contemporary lifestyle. The resulting building shows how well this has been achieved. It fits subtly into its lush, green site while at the same time grabbing the attention of passers-by, many of whom have been known to crane their necks to get a better view of this bold new house.
When it came to meeting the clients’ wish list, lead architect Alexa Kasim adopted a novel approach that meant she had all bases covered. “The first thing we do in a project is to take an initial design brief,” she explains. “When we’re working with a couple, we talk to them separately about what they want from the project, as well as together. That seems to give us the best idea of what they are both looking for. The brief we develop then reflects what they want as individuals, as well as together.”
This project was unique, recalls the architect, because of one of the conditions that was attached to the sale of the plot of land on which the house has been built: the estate that was selling it, and which still owns the surrounding land, had to be consulted before any planning applications were made. “The seller was keen to see a well-designed and appropriate house built on the site,” says Alexa. The scheme, happily, was well received and subsequent approval by the area’s planning department meant that work could get under way.
From her discussions with the clients, Alexa learned that they were both dedicated cyclists, walkers and general outdoorsy types. Both mentioned that they would love a specific section in the new house where all their sporting equipment could be kept quite separate from the living areas. Another part of the design brief was the creation of space for family and friends coming to visit.
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