Two crumbling farm buildings rebuilt and connected

Linking two reconstructed croft buildings has created a single, sensational dwelling

After thirty years in the south of England, Thelma Archer was ready to return to her homeland. She headed back to Scotland, going much further north than her native Glasgow – all the way to the Cairngorms, in fact – where she’d bought a plot of land on which she hoped to build a new family home.
The site had certain problems, not least of which was that it was already occupied by a derelict cottage and steading. But it also had an unbeatable trump card: 360-degree views of the Cairngorm mountains. “It stirs your soul,” says Thelma. “If you’re having a bad day you just need to look out the window.”
She enlisted the help of her son, architect Stuart Archer, to create something that would be a long-term home – both a haven for herself and her black labrador and also something of a ‘party house’. “As a Glaswegian, I do like to have lots of family and friends around, so it had to be a sociable house,” she smiles.
London-based Stuart relocated to the Highland site in order to give the project his full attention. “The cottage and steading had been part of an old croft, but they were in such a poor state of repair that we decided to demolish the two structures and then rebuild them, maintaining their massing and footprint,” he explains.
It was also decided early on in the design process to intro­duce a third structure, a contemporary ‘link’, and to join the three buildings together with glass. “I have always been a fan of an approach to architecture where the concept is kept as simple as possible,” says Stuart. “In this case, after discussions with my mum to establish the brief, we decided that the three elements would remain visually separate but physically connected. We both agreed that there ought to be separate guest accommodation, away from her master suite, not just for the sake of privacy but so that the house didn’t feel too big, as she’d be spending a lot of time there on her own with the dog.”
It made sense to use the old steading for Thelma’s accommodation, the cottage for the guest bedrooms, and the new link element as the communal ‘centrepoint’ with a kitchen and dining space. “Most people will meet here in the middle,” says Stuart.

This is just a taster, you can browse the full article with more stunning photography on pages 116-128, issue 102.

Subscribe now


What Two rebuilt farm buildings, linked by a new-build section
Where Cairngorms
Architects Stuart Archer and Liz Marinko
Main contractor AW Laing
Structural engineer Allen Gordon
Photography David Barbour
Words Caroline Ednie