Architects

Brown & Brown

Location

Aberdeen, Scotland

Year

2022

Photographer

Jim Stephenson

An architectural gem that creates a tranquil retreat surrounded by greenery in a suburban area.

The Arbor House, an architectural gem crafted by Brown & Brown, stands as a testament to the seamless integration of sustainable design principles and superior craftsmanship in a conservation area of Aberdeen, Scotland. This low-energy abode is a sanctuary that exudes a deep sense of appreciation for architecture, design, and artisan skills. The project was completed through a synergistic collaboration between Brown & Brown, specialist contractor Coldwells Build, and craft workshop Angus & Mack.

The Arbor House - Gessato

Designed with astute sensitivity for a couple transitioning from a rural setting to suburban Aberdeen, The Arbor House is an exemplary model of thoughtful architecture. Organized over two levels, the cantilevered house features larch batten cladding intermittently cut by expansive glazing. The architects strategically positioned the dwelling in a minor depression on the northern corner of the site to capture the southern sunlight and to subtly camouflage the volume from the busy road it borders.

The Arbor House - Gessato

The Arbor House triumphantly takes the place of a dilapidated stone building that once extended the length of the tree-lined plot. The meticulous deconstruction of the majority of the cottage facilitated the reuse of its masonry, which was crafted into a low, sweeping boundary wall at street level. Additionally, the team preserved one wall in situ, which now forms a modern colonnade with original window openings.

The Arbor House - Gessato

Brown & Brown ingeniously arranged these layers of repurposed masonry to strike a harmonious balance between the client’s need for privacy and the original connection to streetscape. The secluded entry acts as a buffer, separating the hustle and bustle of the road and the tranquil seclusion of the gardens and home.

Carefully designed interiors that provide both privacy and openness.

Internally, The Arbor House’s rational floor plan offers the potential for independent living, if needed later in life. A bespoke fumed oak pivot door introduces a broad corridor, guiding occupants through the home with uninterrupted views of the gardens. A utility room, bathroom, and office are strategically placed en route to a double-height glazed atrium. This central dining space is illuminated by an entire wall of glazing, inviting the surrounding trees into the home.

The Arbor House - Gessato

Despite the allure of nature visible from the spacious atrium, the focus is drawn towards a sculptural birch plywood spiral staircase. This breathtaking piece, designed by Brown & Brown in collaboration with local workshop Angus & Mack, was painstakingly assembled over three weeks. Timber treads were individually cut and hand layered to craft a smooth, flowing parabolic curve.

The remainder of the ground floor is contains cooking and hosting areas, with a bespoke chef’s kitchen acting as the heart of the home. A wall of joinery, clad in slate panels, disguises a practical back-of-house kitchen complete with floor-to-ceiling storage. The streamlined DK&I kitchen island boasts a microcement counter that cantilevers out from a blackened ceramic base, stretching towards a wall of floor-to-ceiling glazing.

The Arbor House - Gessato

The lounge, extending into the garden, immerses residents into nature through end-to-end, floor-to-ceiling glazing. A timber board marked concrete fireplace anchors the space with a sense of solidity that offsets the airy interior.

The second floor of The Arbor House accommodates the sleeping quarters. The master bedroom with a corner glazed bathroom is situated at the eastern end of the plan, while additional bedrooms and an adjoining jack and jill bathroom designed for the couples’ grown-up children are positioned at the western side.

The volumes of the first-floor spaces, colonnade, and garage are seamlessly integrated into the landscape through the inclusion of a sedum roof, which not only blends the rooftops with the surrounding treelines but also aids in drainage.

A design that follows sustainable architecture principles.

True to the studio’s dedication to sustainable architecture, The Arbor House optimizes natural materials, heating, and ventilation to minimize both operational costs and carbon footprint. A ground source heat pump ensures a cozy indoor temperature during winter, complemented by the heavily insulated structure designed for airtightness. The incorporation of a mechanical ventilation heat recovery system promotes air circulation, leading to a remarkably low energy in-use rating overall.

The Arbor House - Gessato

Demonstrating a profound sensitivity to the scale of The Arbor House, Brown & Brown has masterfully balanced the architectural massing using a restrained palette of reclaimed, local, and natural materials. Slim larch battens, used both internally and externally, create a consistent design language throughout, and their aging process will naturally blend them with the stonework over time. A tough and hard-wearing but smooth microcement floor counterbalances the textures of the plywood and slate joinery, offering a serene, clean interior that is further enhanced by the mature trees visible through the glazed elevations as the seasons change.

The Arbor House - Gessato

Andrew Brown, Director, Brown & Brown, expresses a deep sense of satisfaction, stating, “The Arbor House is a modern home in harmony with its surroundings. We worked with the natural topography of the site to create a secret retreat, tucking the volume of the home into the deeper points of the plot to reduce its street presence. The original window apertures from the old cottage offer small glimpses into the cloister and courtyard, adding layers and intrigue to the home.”

“Brown & Brown have delivered a house which takes our breath away every day, and we realize what a wonderful place this is to live. Living in the countryside, you get accustomed to a level of privacy and tranquillity that this house affords us in an urban setting. The house allows us to enjoy the lifestyle we’ve long wanted; space to host, easy access to the city, and plenty of green space,” say the clients, Russel Davies andWendy Wilkie.

The Arbor House - Gessato

The Arbor House - Gessato

The Arbor House - Gessato

The Arbor House - Gessato

The Arbor House - Gessato

The Arbor House - Gessato

The Arbor House - Gessato

The Arbor House - Gessato

The Arbor House - Gessato

The Arbor House - Gessato

The Arbor House - Gessato

The Arbor House - Gessato

The Arbor House - Gessato

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