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“Darach” Dalbeattie

A private client approached us to design a new bespoke house for a plot located in Dalbeattie, Dumfries & Galloway. The client previously was unable to achieve planning permission for a standard house design prepared by others due to not taking into account the specific characteristics of the site. We were tasked with developing a design for a bespoke modern solution that responded positively to the site with both imagination and style.

The site was characterised by being long, narrow and sloping with mature trees located either end. The house was designed for a young family with children and needed a large amount of space, whilst also wanting to make the most of the impressive views over the surrounding fields and woodlands. The client’s aim was to create a house that had distinct rooms and spaces that in certain instances could open out and interconnect with the garden and setting of trees and granite outcrops to the site. 

The building is divided into three parts to make it appear smaller, with the principal elevation where the living accommodation is generally located being hidden from the public road, as a result of the slope. The house is conceived as two distinct parts arranged over two levels stepping down the sloping site and comprising a rear timber box with mono-pitched metal roof subservient to the principal front building under a traditional pitched slate roof. The two buildings are connected by a fully glazed double-height foyer link. The main double height entrance foyer offers views straight through towards a private garden at the rear, and an open staircase leads to the floors above and below. 

The split-level configuration of the interior rooms also created unusual and interesting connections between spaces and the windows were carefully positioned to take advantage of selected framed views such as a prominent mature tree on-site. 

The rear building is clad in locally sourced untreated timber whilst the front building is predominantly finished with a smooth light grey render.  The ‘cut-out’ sections of the front building provide the elevation with interest and depth without being overly complicated and a finished in matching timber. These external finishes ensured the building aesthetically worked well with the context of adjacent houses and woodland whilst complimenting its own modern character. The materials were chosen to reflect the light aesthetic quality of the building as a whole and the spaces created. 

Renewable solar PV panels are incorporated into the whole house heating design and highly efficient double glazed windows were installed into a highly insulated fabric. The house was designed to be flexible to allow for future additional accommodation to be formed to the lowest floor at a later date without the need for extending outwards.

Glazing is concentrated within the living areas to take advantage of views of the surrounding landscape.The larger areas of glazing to southerly aspects maximise solar gains and reduce heating requirements within the principle double height living area. A wood burning stove provides heating to the living and beyond. 

A tiered landscaped private garden was created to the side of the house linking to the adjacent woodlands. The garden design utilised granite rock arising from the ground when the house foundations were formed. 

The bespoke designed house was taken forward as a self-build project utilising local contractors contributing to the local economy. The resulting house successfully demonstrates that it is possible to construct a contemporary self-build whilst achieving design excellence and on a relatively low budget.