Against all odds

The views were fantastic, but nothing else about this site in the Southern Uplands encouraged building. The architect explains how he made it happen

The capacity to see beyond structural issues or access problems to the rich potential a site may offer is a gift shared by the best architects. This project, near Biggar, certainly tested the abilities of Wil Tunnell, of WT Architecture, to their limit. Access to the collection of tumbledown farm buildings was nonexistent, there were no services to the site and the surrounding land was owned by half a dozen different people, making it extremely tricky to negotiate a way forward.
Despite these seemingly insurmountable problems, the plot had been bought by an enthusiastic owner who was determined to press ahead with building a new home. He invited Wil to take a look at it in the summer of 2011. “The original buildings had been unused for fifty years so the roofs had fallen in. There wasn’t even a track to the site,” he recalls.
After considering the various buildings, Wil and Susie Turley, the project architect, focused their attention on a long, narrow building that had once been a threshing mill. “Given that the client was looking for lots of light and space, this seemed like the best starting point,” Wil explains.
The site then revealed its other challenges: “There is a vicious microclimate here. The wind is always much faster in the glen and the temperature is lower, so there’s more snow and rain. The wind sweeps up the valley and hits the house hard. This wasn’t the spot for designing luxurious terraces to spill out onto.”

This is just a taster, you can browse the full article with more stunning photography on pages 224-232, issue 100.

Subscribe now


Photography Andrew Lee
Words Fiona Reid