Cultivated from semi-derelict farm buildings, the luxury holiday cottages at East Cambusmoon near Loch Lomond are a stunning example of architectural conservation. The project to transform an old dairy and barn into ecofriendly accommodation won the most recent Glasgow Institute of Architects Award for sustainability and judges were wowed by the quality and detail in the end product. Meticulous effort went into ensuring exceptional levels of comfort were created while conserving energy and using sustainable materials in the properties, which are located near Gartocharn in the heart of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.
Owners Steve and Deborah Mackenhad previously commissioned Thomas Robinson Architects, who specialise in sustainable architecture, to design a stateof- the-art, low-energy family home on their smallholding. The Mackens, who work in the renewable energy industry, were delighted with the end result and brought back the Robinsons to mastermind the development of the high-end holiday accommodation – the Old Dairy and Curlew Cottage.
Tom Robinson, founding director of the Croftamie-based practice, explained: “The client sought to diversify their business and continue the use of the farm buildings. “The enhancement of these existing buildings by bringing them back to a good state of repair and adopting high design standards assists in the desire to raise design quality and ensures the continued use of traditional farm buildings in the National Park.
Spacious and bright open-plan kitchen, dining and sitting areas in Curlew Cottage provide great space for families and groups. It features four bedrooms, two with en-suite facilities. The double-height kitchen, dining and living area in the two-bedroomed Old Dairy are drenched with natural light. Both properties offer wonderful views over open countryside and hills beyond and are wheelchair accessible.
Whilst the interiors are fresh and contemporary, existing materials and finishes were retained and re-used where possible to help retain the character of the former farm buildings. For example, original slates were used to repair the roofs of some of the remaining barns on the site and existing stone features were preserved, including the feature stone archway on the smaller unit which dates back to the mid-1850s. Red sandstone from the original farmhouse was used for walls and landscaping around the cottages.
Modern materials such as larch cladding were selected to complement the traditional materials and to tie in with the design of the new house previously built on the smallholding. Energy efficiency was also high on the clients’ priorities and Tom added: “The aim was to design a development that operates to high sustainable principles.
“Both cottages use a highly-insulated and airtight timber frame to keep draughts out and the heat in. A groundsource heat pump and solar roof panels ensure the properties produce most of their energy on site. A heat recovery system, underfloor heating and high-efficiency stoves provide back-up heat sources. “Careful placement and sizing of a few new windows provide views to the surrounding countryside and ensure natural light floods in.”
The restoration project was described as the “outstanding candidate” in the GIA Awards, with the judges acknowledging the architects had delivered a “finely-detailed and beautifully finished end product”.
Sophie Pither and Jez Lazell commissioned Thomas Robinson Architects to transform their cosy cottage into a dream family home. With three young sons, the couple desperately needed more space and embarked on a project to extend and totally overhaul the late Victorian property which sits close to Lake of Menteith.
One timber-clad addition created a garden room and study off the dining kitchen while a second allowed for a new hallway and staircase. The new layout freed up living space downstairs and meant an extra bedroom could be accommodated on the upper floor.
Sophie is delighted with the end result. She said: “I like the idea of the traditional cottage still very obvious with the timber attachments. Yet on the inside the whole place feels modern and really flows.
“Fiona Robinson has a great design eye and has created fantastic lines of light and symmetry in the house.”
About the Architect
Based in Croftamie, north of Glasgow, Thomas Robinson Architects are an award-winning team of experienced, RIBA Chartered Architects who specialise in residential design and individual houses, sustainable building design and building conservation. The practice was founded in 1999 by Tom Robinson (BSc Arch Hons, Dip Arch, RIBA, RIAS) and his wife Fiona (BA Arch Hons, Dip Arch, M Arch, Dip Int Des).