Highland bling: the blockbuster citadel with a gold-lined oculus and cladding product of crushed TVs | Structure

Highland bling: the blockbuster citadel with a gold-lined oculus and cladding product of crushed TVs | Structure

It’s a sunny night on the bonny banks of Loch Awe, deep within the Scottish Highlands, and one thing is glowing behind the bushes. Up a winding filth observe, previous acres of densely planted pines, we come to a clearing the place a huddle of chiselled gray blocks rise out of the panorama like a rocky outcrop, their abrasive sides glittering within the mild, as if hewn from some crystalline mineral.

“It’s clad in crushed TV screens,” says Murray Kerr, the architect of one of the crucial uncommon castles to be in-built Argyll for the reason that 1600s. “We have been pondering of utilizing greenish slate chips, so the constructing would appear to be a rustic gent in tweeds standing on the hill. However then we realized how a lot our consumer hates televisions, so this appeared like the proper materials.”

From a distance it seems to be like pebbledash, or harling because it’s known as right here. However as you method the monolithic gray mass, its partitions change into coated in chunky glass nuggets, which have been recycled from previous cathode-ray tube screens. It seems to be like one thing that has been mined from some future geological seam of digital waste, treasured sediment from the Anthropocene epoch.

It’s one among many quirky particulars to be discovered on this sprawling 650 sq. metre dwelling, which has been designed like a bodily autobiography of the shoppers, David and Margaret, who preside over a clan of six kids and 6 grandchildren. “It might sound extravagant to have a home of this dimension,” says David, a monetary adviser, as he exhibits me across the seven en suite bedrooms, one among which has been designed as a dormitory for the grandkids, with eight bunk beds. “However we frequently fill it.”

Highland bling: the blockbuster citadel with a gold-lined oculus and cladding product of crushed TVs | Structure
No TV … the lounge with its view of Loch Awe. {Photograph}: Gilbert McCarragher

Like most castles, it’s been a very long time within the making. The couple, who’ve lived in Quarrier’s Village close to Glasgow for years, acquired the 40-hectare (100-acre) website in 2007 for £250,000 after seeing it marketed of their native paper’s property complement. It was former Forestry Fee land, with planning permission for a small log cabin. “They got here to me with an image of a baronial palace,” says Kerr. “They wished a 12,000 sq ft home with a giant basement for events and a room for an 18-foot Christmas tree. And it needed to be symmetrical.”

Kerr’s follow, Denizen Works, shouldn’t be the primary place you may search for a neo-baronial mansion. However he had come beneficial by two associates, based mostly on the characterful trendy home he designed for his dad and mom on the Isle of Tiree within the Hebrides. A collection of barrel-vaulted rooms constructed on the ruins of a farmstead, it scooped Grand Designs Dwelling of the 12 months in 2014. “We began by speaking by way of the historical past of Scottish structure,” says Kerr, “from iron-age brochs [drystone roundhouses] and defensive tower-houses, to baronial piles and Charles Rennie Waterproof coat. Eight years later, they’ve bought probably the most asymmetrical home potential, half the scale, with no basement.”

Copper bottomed … the twin metallic bathtubs.
Copper bottomed … the dual metallic bathtubs. {Photograph}: Gilbert McCarragher

It’s a stark arrival, however the constructing channels a rugged Highland spirit that someway feels in tune with the place. It stands with a troublesome, defensive air, rising above the loch like a fortified bastion, as if able to fend off marauding clans. From the west, you may see tower-house echoes within the type of a stocky nook tower that rises to 10 metres (counterintuitively housing a cinema room on the high), whereas there are additional citadel allusions within the arrow-slit home windows and deep chamfered openings chiselled into the partitions.

The insides of the cuts, sliced with scalpel precision, are rendered with smaller chunks of glass, as if revealing a softer internal matter. Though it was constructed with a prefab timber body, then wrapped with breeze blocks, Kerr describes the shape as being “carved from a strong mass”, citing the Basque artist Eduardo Chillida, whose cubic marble sculptures offered inspiration for the cut-away sections. From the south, the home is a extra low-slung affair, hunkered within the panorama, with a wing of bedrooms sloping right down to the fitting, the place a lochan, or small loch, is planted with reed beds to filter wastewater from the septic tank.

The constructing is cleverly positioned to be all however invisible from the environment, however it has nonetheless come as a shock to some. When its renderings have been first revealed within the native press, readers didn’t maintain again. “Appears like a muckle brute of a factor. Confused and lumpen,” wrote one. “All of it seems to be a bit Atlantic Wall c.1944,” stated one other. “I’m all for contemporary structure,” somebody wrote on an area Fb group, “however this seems to be like one thing my wee boy created in Minecraft.”

a semi exterior nook with burning fire in hearth and chair with landscape beyond
Heat nook … the out of doors hearth and the outside product of crushed TV screens. {Photograph}: Gilbert McCarragher

Kerr was undeterred. “It’s good that it provoked a wholesome debate,” he says, including that the home on Tiree prompted an identical response at first. David agrees: “We didn’t design it to impress anybody else. It’s what we wish.”

Their tastes are actually singular, as the inside reveals. Together with the hatred of televisions, the couple have a disdain for fitted kitchens, too. The primary kitchen options nothing however a big eight-door Aga, positioned towards a refined stainless-steel wall, a desk and a silver-painted grocery cabinet. The useful parts – sink, dishwasher, sideboards – are corralled right into a tiny galley off to the facet, whereas the fridge-freezer has been banished to a utility room on the opposite facet of the home solely. Fetching the milk for a cuppa is sweet for the step depend, not less than.

On the coronary heart of the home is a grand central corridor, rising to virtually six metres. It’s a theatrical house, its partitions dotted with irregular home windows that give views from the touchdown above, together with a tiny postage stamp opening at child-height. “The youngsters love tearing round,” says David, including that the home’s two staircases create a sort of round promenade.

Sky’s the limit … an oculus lined with gold leaf casts warm light into the great chamber.
Sky’s the restrict … an oculus lined with gold leaf casts heat mild into the nice chamber. {Photograph}: Gilbert McCarragher

True to the temporary, the principle cause for the room’s huge peak is to accommodate a large Christmas tree – felled from the woodland annually and glued in a devoted sunken gap within the flooring (quickly to be topped by an ornamental bronze manhole cowl). A corresponding oculus within the ceiling, lined with gold leaf, casts heat mild into the nice chamber, the place the partitions are coated with an earthy clay render, blended with specks of golden mica that give off a delicate shimmer.

The polished concrete flooring additionally include tiny fragments of mirror, bringing the crystalline sparkle of the facades inside, even on overcast days. It’s a glittering prelude for the blingiest room of all, nonetheless to be fitted out: a shrine to whisky, with a sunken bar solely lined with polished copper. “Rosebank is my favorite,” says David, referring to the Lowland single malt distillery that closed in 1993 (though is ready to reopen subsequent yr). “One thing appeals to me that every time you drink a bottle, there’s one much less left on the earth.”

The couple’s rarefied tastes additionally lengthen to furnishings. A few of the rooms have been particularly designed round items commissioned from Southern Guild, a boutique “collectible design” gallery in Cape City, South Africa. The hovering barrel-vaulted eating room, for instance, needed to home a four-metre black metal desk, with a view of the loch. It’s illuminated by an imposing black ash chandelier, with lengthy movable spokes that recall the sort of crossed swords or deer antlers you may discover in a baronial citadel corridor.

Equally, the lounge was designed round a big leather-based L-shaped couch, going through not a TV however a giant open hearth – one among 4 hearths that dot the home. One other hearth will be discovered outdoors, creating a comfy nook on the primary flooring terrace, half beneath cowl, so you may hold heat whereas watching the “dreich” climate roll in off the loch.

Exterior shot of Ardteatle with loch and trees reflecting in the water
Reflective house … the home seen from the loch. {Photograph}: Gilbert McCarragher

The bogs proceed the polished copper theme, together with one with a pair of bathtubs facet by facet – meant to be romantic, however primarily loved by the grandchildren, who love splashing about whereas their reflections within the mirrored copper ceiling. Additional autobiographical touches are available in little seating nooks all through the home, upholstered in purple leather-based from the Muirhead tannery (purveyors of leather-based to the Home of Lords and Concorde).

The leather-based even extends to the ceiling of the library, the place volumes embrace Donald Trump’s Easy methods to Get Wealthy, alongside a Winnie-the-Pooh e-book, Return to the Hundred Acre Wooden – after which the property is called. However all shouldn’t be what it appears. Push the e-book’s backbone and, in a shock second of Scooby-Doo slapstick, the entire bookcase pivots to disclose a examine hidden behind.

In a means, it sums up the perspective of the entire venture: this home is a deeply idiosyncratic reflection of the shoppers, wrought with Highland heft on the surface, shielding a wry sense of enjoyable, decadence and mischief inside. Simply strive to not get misplaced in your option to the fridge.