A crumbling garage is brought back to life with a Costa Rican edge

Impossible is nothing

Black corrugated cladding from Cladco combines effectively with the original reclaimed stone of the old stables and the strips of larch. The pyramid shape was chosen as it gives the most space without overshadowing the neighbours.

Black corrugated cladding from Cladco combines effectively with the original reclaimed stone of the old stables and the strips of larch. The pyramid shape was chosen as it gives the most space without overshadowing the neighbours.

Satisfying the whole family’s requirements, while being inspired by two very different worlds, this ‘shack’ is champion material

Portobello, Edinburgh’s seaside suburb, has more than its fair share of interesting new architecture to go along with its traditional tenements and Victorian villas. Konishi Gaffney’s Japanese house, A449’s stables conversion and Chambers McMillan’s ‘ramp’ house have all won plaudits in recent years, and now the trans­for­ma­tion of a crumbling garage in a back garden is generating similar acclaim.w

The ‘Costa Rican garden shed’, as it is intriguingly known, emerged out of an idea that had been percolating in the minds of its owners, Ina Porras and James Mayers, for some time. Over the past 15 years the couple have been adapting their B-listed Georgian home to accommodate their growing family. “We designed and built a sitting room/kitchen at the back of the house about ten years ago,” says Ina. “It is full of light, and has double glazing and underfloor heating – a major requirement for me as a Costa Rican living in Scotland.”

The couple’s attention turned more recently to the old stone garage at the end of the garden. It had been built in the early 1800s as a stable. “The walls were more or less just rubble and the roof was collapsing,” says Ina. “It was really quite dangerous – we had to warn the children not to go near it.”

They spoke to their friends Ian and Thea McMillan, principals of local practice Chambers McMillan, architects of the aforementioned ‘ramp’ house. “We were looking for advice and trying to work out what sort kind of budget we’d need,” says Ina.

DETAILS

What A rebuilt garage/studio
Where Portobello, Edinburgh
Architect Chambers McMillan Architects
Contractor Madison Garrad
Photography David Barbour
Words Caroline Ednie