Preston Tower is a Scheduled Ancient Monument consisting of a partially ruined Tower House, Doocot and Garden nestling in the heart of the town of Prestonpans, East Lothian. The Tower’s lower storeys are possibly of late 14th century origin while the upper storeys were added in 1626. It was burned, along with the adjacent town of Prestonpans in 1544 during the Rough Wooing and then again in 1650. After being rebuilt, its upper storeys were burned again (by accident), in 1663 and the Tower was finally permanently abandoned.
As a prominent built feature on the Forth, it has been a significant landmark in the area ever since. However, it fell into a derelict state by the late 1800’s when a number of local citizens worked together to consolidate its remaining walls and floors. Saving it for future generations. During the early 20th century, it functioned as the centrepiece of a commercial market garden and in the late 1960s it passed into the ownership of the National Trust for Scotland and is now managed by East Lothian Council. Phased conservation work is currently taking place focused on improving access and encouraging more people to visit in future while contributing to local regeneration.
The project is being supported by the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Fund and progressed by East Lothian Council in collaboration with building owners the National Trust for Scotland and with the support of the Preston, Seton & Gosford Area Partnership, and the National Lottery-funded Great Place Project. The Phase 1 repairs to the Doocot, garden walls, access paths & interpretation are on site. This includes works to make safe the Doocot roof that was collapsing, retaining as much original fabric as possible by traditionally repairing the masonry stone walls and pigeon nest holes, whilst also recording the existing structure for interpretation purposes. GRAS are also working with the local community to develop an exciting package of Phase 2 works. These will include the conservation repair of the Tower and improve accessibility to the interior and interpretation with works commencing in Spring 2022.
GRAS have been appointed to sensitively upgrade, repair and extend the village hall in East Lothian, providing a local community hub fit for the 21st century, unlocking its potential and opening it up to a wider group of users. Partial funding has already been secured from Fred Olsen Crystal Rig Wind Farm and works on site are scheduled to commence in Spring 2022.
The Literature House is the flagship project of the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust. The project brings together two iconic Edinburgh buildings, John Knox House and the Scottish Storytelling Centre, to form a welcoming hub for Edinburgh as a literary city and Scotland as a literary nation. The Literature House will be a lively place of encounter with a mix of events and a visitor attraction. The offerings will include events spaces, interpretive experience , café and meeting place , bookshop and information centre.
The proposals require a sensitive crafted approach to deal with a complex set of buildings on a complicated site, and a highly aspirational brief. Witherford Watson Mann and GRAS have been working closely together on a feasibility study to develop a scheme which also improves accessibility, enhances the flow between the two buildings, and upgrades their fabric and services.
GRAS are working with Bostock Bakery to reconfigure their East Linton base to provide a new woodfires pizza area and café seating. The design uses a simple pallet of oak and reeded glass to form seating booths and tables, finished with simple upholstery. The design reimagines the circular Bostock logo as dowels in the seats and table tops, with triangular wall panels making reference to the cuts made pastry when making croissants
GRAS collaboration with S+CO, explored various design solutions for social spaces during pandemic. Featuring range of materials like blackened steel and plywood, as well as brass and oak, the polycarbonate screens were designed and fabricated in Leith, Edinburgh, to be carefully installed across UK.
The existing 2 bedroom dwelling in King Edward’s Road, London was extended to provide a larger living space with an additional master bedroom. The design transformed the previously dark segmented property into a light, spacious family home. The material palette consists of subtly textured plaster, white oiled Douglas fir, pale brick, accent features in warm dark wood, chrome and black matt metal. Photography by Sustainable Kitchens.
GRAS are working closely with our clients at the heart of historic Gattonside, on the River Tweed, near Melrose. The project involves the careful restoration of the first-floor apartment, converting the attic and re-configuring the living spaces.
The proposal introduces a new stair to the attic, allowing for a new spacious bedroom to be neatly tucked above the large living room, dining and kitchen. The newly created bedroom benefits from a large, walk-in wardrobe with storage and culminating in a bathroom. The design is informed by an already present, minimal language punctuated by industrial elements. A carefully curated material palette reflects the clients’ sense of aesthetic along with their awareness of the environmental impact of the project. Interventions are formed in naturally finished larch and ash wood, lightly textured walls and durable floors. The project is due to begin construction in early 2022 and will seek to emphasise the collaborative process between local craftspeople and trades in its delivery.
The Lake House is a project for a family home on the Finger Lakes in upstate New York. The client approached GRAS to create a house which could simultaneously cater for the parent couple but also their children and grandchildren.
Using the challenge of a House which could expand and contract for two people and a house for 50 people; GRAS consider the project as a typological study on the evolution of the home in North America and in particular the suburban home. The re-interpretation of domestic and vernacular architectural influences occurs from the beginning of the Western inhabitation of America to the current day and it is the cross-pollination of influence which gives character to the Lake House project. The project aims to create an American sub-urban home but with a European and Scottish influence.
The proposed family dwelling is located in Uig, a small village at Timsgarry on the Isle of Lewis. The house sits on an exposed site with immersive coastal views towards the southwest. The massing of the development is divided into three volumes containing the house, annex accommodation and garage which helps to break up the overall scale. The staggered arrangement of these elements references the asymmetric plans that are typical in the area, while the inclusion of prominent chimney stacks also evokes the local vernacular.
The building’s orientation on the site takes into consideration the views, sun path and prevailing winds. The main spaces are oriented to take the full advantage of the main southwest panoramic view and to allow morning and evening sunlight to enter. The main entrances to the house and annex on the north facades are protected from the southeast prevailing winds.
The material palette for the property responds directly to the built heritage of the immediate surroundings, whilst also aiming to provide a modern take on the farmhouse dwelling. The proposed cladding is a mixture of textured, painted wet-dash render on the lower part of the facades, with lighter timber above. The materials are distributed across the development to create a sense of scale more characteristic of the area. The pitched roofs of all three volumes are covered with corrugated metal sheets reminiscent of typical agricultural buildings.
GRAS were appointed to refurbish and convert two flats back into a full townhouse together with a new rear extension to house a swimming pool and spa facilities. The townhouse was converted into two flats in the 1960’s so a significant move was reinstating the first flight of the central stair in stone. Other works were installing en-suites to all of the bedrooms with new hardwood parquet flooring throughout.
The Knab site occupies a substantial part of a headland forming the eastern part of Lerwick, Shetland’s capital, and until recently was occupied by the former Anderson High School campus, including several important listed buildings. A new school campus was recently completed and the site is now vacant.
GRAS were first appointed by Shetland Islands Council in 2017 to prepare a preliminary report on the listed buildings on the site as part of a masterplanning exercise, including an assessment of their significance and the identification of suitable options for future re-use. We were then appointed to apply for planning permission, listed building consent and building warrant for demolition of the various modern buildings on the site, including several link corridors into the listed buildings and the sympathetic making good and infill of the resultant openings. We were subsequently commissioned to produce a report on the proposed ‘mothballing’ of the listed buildings on the site, setting out recommended measures to ensure that damage and deterioration is minimised over the period they are left empty and unused.
Our appointment to develop proposals for the redevelopment of West Princes Street Gardens in the heart of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site encompassed a continuous requirement to assess and minimise the effects of all new works upon the heritage assets possessed by the site. This included reviewing and updating the pre-existing Conservation Management Plan and Statement of Significance and the preparation of a detailed Heritage Statement for early submission to the Council’s planning authority
A detailed and comprehensive scheme of conservation and repair works to the three garden shelters located along the upper terrace was separately advanced; dating from 1948 and category B listed, these concrete shelters together form a comparatively early example of modernism in Edinburgh and the only such structures in the Gardens.
Interior design scheme for the refurbishment of the restroom facilities focused on maximising the space, increasing hygiene and sustainable solutions. The uniform colour palette is broken up by the bespoke white basins and stainless steel faucets. The lights designed and fabricated by GRAS allow for more curated and energy efficient use of the spaces. Commissioned neon artwork softens the interior offering a visual respite.
Photography by Jaroslaw Mikos
This ground-floor retail space for vegan fashion retailer Treen is located in the heart of Stockbridge, Edinburgh, near the remnants of a façade from a 19th-century market hall.
The architectural language aims to reflect Treen’s sustainable ethos, with an emphasis on warm, natural materials like clay plaster and Scottish ash wood. Extensive removal of previous internal alterations revealed softly curved walls and multi-layered textures that reflect the space’s original use as a grocery store. Subtly textured clay plaster was applied to the stripped back and newly recovered surfaces. A bespoke, blackened-steel railing organically follows the curvature of the walls, creating a datum that extends through the store and guides customers as they explore the connected spaces.
The shelving and countertop showcase the beauty of the natural, oil-treated wood, and are designed to create a tactile experience. All fixtures and furniture were custom designed and made by local craftsmen, resulting in a harmonious, carefully curated space. The holistic approach to the interior design and installation resulted in a rich yet efficient process, creating a shorthand between designer and tradesman with the client at the centre of the explorative discussions.
The design of the new library has the ambition to become a local sub-center located between the inner and outer bypass of the city of Olomouc, in the Nové Sady housing estate. At first glance, the introverted building opens into the housing estate through a newly designed outdoor space, which carries with it a claim to clarify and recultivate the surrounding environment so that it is possible to create a dignified pre-space for newly emerging public institution.
The library building looks modest on the outside, but it attracts with its elegant timber façade of the 1st floor extension, which suggests the uniqueness of the internal function. It offers generous spaces and accommodating gestures to enrich social life, culture, education, and concentration. The ambition of the design was not to create an architectural icon, but to focus on the harmonious connection of building with its environment and especially the general logic and functionality of the entire space.
Situated in the village of Tongue, Sutherland, in the shadow of the iconic Ben Hope, Lundies looks over its stone walls and gardens towards the ancient ruins of Caisteal Bharraich and the dramatic Kyle of Tongue. The former 19th-century manse has been meticulously repaired and sensitively adapted to create accommodation in the form of three period-inspired guest suites and an attic-level apartment. The creative team at conservation and hospitality organisation Wildland were deeply involved in all aspects of the project, from defining a clear, ambitious vision to sourcing and commissioning unique pieces of furniture and artworks at completion.
The Cassette is the second in a series of retail spaces designed and fabricated by GRAS for the Waverley Mall shopping centre in central Edinburgh. Here, we created an open, bright and stylish new kiosk design that transforms what was once a dark and unused space.
GRAS conceived a carefully curated material palette for the kiosk, including delicate pink timber cladding and a chunky terrazzo worktop made out of reclaimed marble. These features are combined with bespoke elements including a brass frame with discrete integrated lighting and a custom-made neon sign. The Cassette has created a space which is playful in form and redefines its corner of the mall.
GRAS have recently completed a contemporary extension and refurbishment of a family home in Corstorphine. The ground floor is significantly reconfigured and extended to provide a large kitchen, family room, and dining room with large slim profile sliding doors on to the garden. A first floor extension provides an additional bedroom and is conceived as an elemental sculptural form clad it tiles to match the existing roof.
Moffat is a small town with a population of around 2,500 located in the district of Annandale in the Scottish Borders, around 21 miles north of Dumfries. The town developed primarily over the late 18th and early 19th centuries as a spa resort, having been largely redeveloped in the late 18th century during which a number of hotels and inns were constructed in the town centre to cater for the growing number of visitors.
Moffat Conservation Area includes the town centre and extends north eastward to encompass parkland extending down to the Annan Water and westward to cover an area of mainly 19th century residential development. GRAS were first appointed by the Community Council in late 2018 to prepare a Conservation Area Character Appraisal & Management Plan, which was then used to support an application to the Scottish Government for funding under the Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) programme. This in turn resulted in a number of subsequent appointments, including development of proposals to refurbish and adapt the category B listed Archbald Moffat House, which dates from the late 18th century.
Refurbishment of a former tourist office within the mall to accommodate temporary premises of the Fruitmarket Bookshop. The space was radically transformed by exposing the concrete slab ceiling, floor, installing new seating and bespoke lighting. Continuing the language of minimal interventions, like introducing mild steel counters and plywood sheeting for walls, allowed the book store to carefully curate the book display, spaces for reading, events and a small office. The connection between W&J café and the book store drew visitors to newly-designed seating areas overlooking the atrium.
Photography by Jaroslaw Mikos
Bespoke light design and interior scheme for the refurbishment of the retail unit at Waverley Mall. Minimal language of colour and light gave new life to the unused space, serving as a contemporary background for the independent retailers pop-ups.
Photography by Jaroslaw Mikos
HRBR is a custom designed and built retail display installed in the reception of the Custom Lane gallery space and café in Leith. The project’s title references its setting in Edinburgh’s historic harbour district.
A modular approach, based on the multiplication of standard cabinet sizes, allows for easy reconfiguration of the display units. A system of movable shelves and trays creates a continuous play of transparency, while the solidity and geometry of the oak storage brings structural stability and visual balance to the freestanding object. Reflective, satin-brass frames contrast beautifully with the matte, naturally ebonised oak, helping to emphasise HRBR’s timeless, minimal aesthetic.
HRBR was developed and fabricated in collaboration with Edinburgh-based maker and designer, Daniel Brophy. It showcases a curated programme of products, artworks and exhibits produced by partners including retailers, designers and makers working in a variety of media.
Constructed in c.1810, Eriboll Church was an unused kirk overlooking Loch Eriboll. Located right on the North Coast 500 route, the building was in poor condition and had no existing vehicle access or utilities when GRAS were appointed to upgrade and repair the whole building. Today, it is again available for occasional church services for locals and visitors alike. Internally, the building has been enhanced by the discreet installation of all new building services, the reinstatement of original plastered finishes and two new windows in the nave to let in additional natural light. Externally, a comprehensive programme of repairs has been undertaken using traditional materials, and a discreet new carpark and landscaping have been introduced to minimise impacts on the sensitive location.
Caisteal Bharraich is a dramatic and historically significant scheduled monument that sits high above the Kyle of Tongue in Sutherland. The exact date of the rectangular tower’s construction remains uncertain, but there is significant evidence suggesting the earliest possible construction date was around the first half of the 15th century. Later records show that surprisingly few alterations have been made since this time. However, during the winter of 2015 large sections of the monument suffered severe weather damage and GRAS was commissioned to stabilise and consolidate the ancient monument.
Traquair House is a large fortified country house dating from the 15th century and thought to be the oldest continually inhabited house in Scotland. The core comprises a 3-storey tower house built circa 1492, this having been enlarged and extended throughout the 16th and 17th centuries to give the house its distinctive and architecturally complex form. GRAS have a long period of involvement with the estate extending over many years and have been responsible for successive schemes of alteration and repair to the house and other buildings.
Our most recent commission involved investigating and reporting on the condition of the external harling and stone masonry to the external walls and other features of the house, setting out recommendations for repair. A suitable contractor was then appointed and an extensive programme of repair works were agreed and implemented.
BE Residence is a proposed new home for a growing family in Northern Ireland. It was conceived as a modern farmhouse drawing on the vernacular form and groupings of existing properties throughout the region.
The gentle slope of the site allows the building to hunker down into the landscape so it appears unimposing on approach from the north. The south, east and west elevations, however, open up to frame long views and maximise natural light throughout the day.
The building comprises several distinct but permeable volumes containing a variety of different functions, which are connected by an open central living space. The positioning, orientation, elevation and arrangement of forms allows uninterrupted views from and between these spaces and towards the surrounding open fields. A series of open-air terraces slotted in between offer unique views whilst allowing sunshine and shelter from the wind to be found. These terraces border the fields on all sides without walls or fences, gently connecting the house to the expansive, open landscape.
The house is split into three volumes, breaking the programme into the main two-storey family wing, the single-storey guest wing, and a connecting element in between that houses the kitchen, living and dining areas. Extended fingers of landscaping and stone retaining walls interact with the slightly sloping ground to help root the dwelling within the landscape. A single-storey garage projecting from the central link introduces the house on arrival as a stone wall that extends through the building to bridge the inside and outside.
As a direct response to the built agricultural and residential heritage of the immediate surroundings, the main material palette for the dwelling comprises stone rubble walls, untreated timber and a corrugated metal roof.
RB Residence is contemporary building in a rural setting, which embodies a clear departure from the traditional notion of a farmhouse. Inspiration for the building’s form and materiality came from the agricultural vernacular of the adjacent farm buildings and those found throughout the Tweed Valley. The new accommodation is conceived as a reinterpretation of these utilitarian sheds and barns, built from readily available and low-cost materials such as rough-sawn timber, mild steel and profiled metal sheet roofing.
The house’s primary orientation follows a northeast to southwest axis, which is typical of agricultural and industrial buildings along the length of the Tweed Valley. On approach, the property appears as a simple, low-slung pitched roof, built in corrugated sheet metal and supported by a functional steel and glass frame – a ubiquitous form throughout the Borders. Overhanging eaves soften the building’s edge, blurring the threshold from inside to out and heightening engagement with the surrounding landscape. Beneath the eaves and the projecting gable roofs, a continuous terrace extending around the perimeter of the house creates a series of covered spaces of varying scales and outlooks.
Continuous timber walls running the length of the house are broken by sliding screens that can be drawn aside to reveal floor-to-ceiling glazed openings. These glazed screens also slide away so that living spaces can be opened up to the terraces on all elevations. This series of internal, covered and external spaces combined with the layered façade provides adaptability to suit seasonal uses. A rational plan with generous circulation both inside and out provides a series of single- and double-height linked spaces, each with their own character, scale and framed views across the fields to the Cheviot Hills. Glazed gables provide focused views to the farm steading and to the forested areas to the northeast.
Located at the southern end of the Kyle of Tongue in Sutherland, Kyle House occupies an elevated site with uninterrupted views in all directions. The humble, peaceful, low-energy house is built to last for generations and is perfect for two people to live slowly and comfortably while immersing themselves in the dramatic, natural setting. The building dates from the early to mid 19th century and is believed to have been built using stone salvaged from the nearby iron-age Dun Mhaigh broch.
Kyle House is part of Wildland, an ambitious 200-year project established by Anne and Anders Holch Povlsen, which aims to protect and restore large parts of the Scottish Highlands through a process of careful conservation and re-wilding. At the beginning of the project, the derelict house consisted of a stone shell with an asbestos roof, which was windowless on three sides and had lain disused for two decades. Anne Holch Povlsen and Swiss-based interior designer Ruth Kramer developed a vision for the building that brings together the best of Scottish and Scandinavian design to create a special and emotive work of architecture.
GRAS worked with Wavegarden Scotland to produce concept design for the retail and surf school at the artificial Wave pool in Ratho Quarry. The design proposes a cluster of timber clad blocks sitting under an oversailing roof. The composition forming in-between spaces both internally and externally for dining and social spaces along with a route from the country park down to the water’s edge as a meandering landscape though the building, reminiscent of sand dunes.
This first-floor flat in a 19th-century building in Edinburgh’s historic New Town had suffered from several unsympathetic alterations before being carefully refurbished by GRAS in close collaboration with our design-led clients, Nina and Craig Plummer. Original features were delicately revealed and new elements thoughtfully introduced throughout the property, which was built in 1878 to house a church hall and offices. An expanded kitchen and enlarged opening onto the living space retain the sense of the original layout through the addition of panelled double doors that fold back to reveal crafted pieces of furniture by designer Sebastian Cox for deVOL Kitchens.
Highly curated new details sit beautifully alongside time-worn elements, whether existing or introduced. The flat has been attentively updated to reflect the slow-living philosophy promoted by Nina and Craig through their online homewares store, Ellei. The flat also serves as a studio used for styled photoshoots of Ellei’s products, so the design had to encapsulate the values of thoughtful homemaking. The renovation project retains the bright and spacious feel of the rooms along with a sense of building’s history, whilst providing spaces that are suited to a contemporary, considered way of living.
Designed using a simple palette of natural materials, oiled plywood , lacquered and colourful powder coated steel, second premises for the speciality coffee roastery and café in Edinburgh.
The Bothy is located at the end of a row of outbuildings and would once have housed the farm’s workers. Originally, two properties were linked forming a two-bedroom dwelling, laid out in a linear pattern with a sitting room at one end that was accessed by passing through the kitchen. GRAS employed traditional techniques to refurbish the property, which now features timber-lined rooms and a corridor with an exposed stone wall. Built-in bunk beds developed in close collaboration with the creative team at Wildland were fabricated by Bodan Workshops in Edinburgh, along with other smaller joinery pieces. Adjacent to the cottage is a small walled garden filled with herbs and flowers that provides a sheltered space to sit and enjoy the scenery.
Pre-fabricated modular house type suitable for a variety of sites in the Scottish Highlands. The principle ambition of this project is to create a series of high quality dramatic but functional spaces which have a strong relation with their natural surroundings in every direction and make effective use of natural light and ventilation. The square plan means the building can be sited in many different locations without significant alteration while the plan can be easily rotated or mirrored to suit different orientations and access points. The living / dining room is the largest space, located centrally and connected via covered external spaces to each of the four external elevations. This space is connected directly to each of the surrounding internal spaces: study / library, art studio, kitchen and the main bedroom. Each of these spaces can be opened to the surrounding wilderness and living spaces or they can be closed to create more intimate, private spaces. The large glazed openings to the main living space provide dramatic, framed views to the surrounding loch and woodland and a large roof-light allows clear views to the sky above.
The building has a simple, rational plan and utilises common tried and tested materials and techniques to create a unique, sculptural building. The outer walls consist of a well insulated timber frame, cedar clad construction which weathers naturally over time allowing the building to gradually blend in to its surroundings as a result of local weather patterns. The roof is also constructed using a well insulated timber frame, clad with lapped cedar boards as is commonly found in the traditional buildings of Scandinavia. The continuous timber cladding on all external faces gives the building a clear sculptural identity.
Geordie’s cottage was originally occupied by the workers at Killiehuntly Farm. The traditional but and ben cottage was enhanced by the addition of two extensions, one to form an entrance vestibule and the other housing the kitchen. This opened up the interior to be more spacious, allowing for a large sitting room, two bedrooms and a bathroom on the ground floor, along with a twin room upstairs in the attic with an adjacent shower room. GRAS’s restoration of the original structure uses traditional materials and techniques, while the interior is enhanced with wood-lined walls throughout. The sitting room features exposed stonework and a wood-burning stove that provides a comforting and attractive focal point.
Part of the Killiehuntly Farm complex, the steading building had deteriorated over time and was being used as a working farm building. GRAS faithfully restored the building back to its original form as a U-shaped structure arranged around a cobbled courtyard. The building now houses the laundry, the estate office and meeting space, and a self-catering property in the former hayloft to the rear. The compact retreat occupies the original footprint of the hayloft and incorporates a small kitchen and shower room on the lower floor, along with a large sitting space and bedroom on the upper level, linked by a new Douglas fir stair. The water wheel was restored by Knockando Blacksmiths, which cast some new sections for the wheel and installed new oak blades and the launder to enable it to function again.
Formal in design, Thistleborough echoes Ireland’s rich heritage of indigenous neo-classical architecture. This proposed Palladian- style country house, south of Crumlin, N. Ireland, is some 1380 square metres in area and incorporates a dwelling house and ancillary accommodation, including a swimming pool.
This detached private house has undergone significant alteration over time, including the addition of a series of flat roofed extensions to the North and its division into two apartments before later being reconciled to form a single dwelling. The latter extensions were built to a poor standard and were suffering from extensive water ingress, dampness and dry rot, and as a result.
Reconfiguring the internal layout and extending the body of the main house created better, healthier living spaces. The existing roof void has been converted to form new sleeping accommodation. By improving the arrangement of internal spaces, the house is better connected with its garden and more suited to modern family life.
In 2017 GRAS were granted planning and building warrant approval for a new 4 bedroom dwelling to PassivHaus standards in Gifford, East Lothian. On-site this year, the house will be one of the first buildings in East Lothian to meet the Gold Label standard for sustainability under Scottish Building Standards.
F-shaped in plan, with a long south-facing façade and internal courtyard, the replacement house will be timber clad using sustainable Scotlarch cladding, have a standing seam zinc sheet roof and magnesium coated galvanised rainwater goods. the building fabric will be constructed from closed panel, twin stud timber-frame walls and roof, and with full-fill pumped Cellulose insulation. This will give very good and high thermal mass with excellent heat retention and air-tightness.
The frame is supported on a fully insulated passive floor slab that will minimise any wall or floor cold bridging and will eliminate the need for footings.
Nisbet Wylie Photographs approached the practice with a brief to provide studio and office space, a meeting room, WC, lounge, kitchen and dressing room within an existing 350m² industrial unit. The existing building is left largely untouched with new facilities contained in two free-standing timber framed beech-ply boxes. They are specifically positioned within the building – dividing it into a series of studio, exhibition and circulation spaces. The units have their own heating, lighting, ventilation and entertainment systems allowing them to be used independently of the main space, minimising energy waste. Where possible, these materials were used in their unaltered state, minimising waste material and construction time, and clearly expressing their industrial origins. Photography by Nisbet Wylie Photographs.
Thaxton is a new urban village centre near Lisburn in County Down. Totalling 10 buildings this project includes 38 residential units, a commercial area, a supermarket, a petrol station, offices, health centre and a pharmacy. A formal layout and urban character was adopted for the site. This, combined with classical design and buildings on a rather grand scale will make Thaxton a landmark development.
The RIBA and Hull 2017 jointly invited GRAS to submit an expression of interest to create an ambitious and bold temporary outdoor structure in Hull city centre. The built structure was launch in August 2017. The proposal welcomed ideas that reflect the following four principles: collaboration, purpose, responding to context and materiality.
The North Ship proposal is a celebration of Hull’s collective cultural identity and its significant history as a major trading post, fishing and whaling port and industrial city. The project reflects on these histories at an important juncture, while projecting a vision for a city embracing cultural rejuvenation in a post-industrial age.
The proposal was developed through collaboration with ~in the fields, an artist collective from the west coast of Scotland. ~ in the fields’ work emphasizes natural phenomena and condenses poetic moments into inventions of autonomous, cocooned systems. Their visual art practice draws on archival material, environmental topics and ephemeral artefacts, such as lost forms of cinema. Their installations are responsive, of modular appearance and often powered by solar energy.
Following the success of the 2016 showcase at London Design Fair, GRAS was re-commissioned by Craft Scotland and Emergents to design and build a stand for use at various shows throughout 2017-2019, including the Collect event at London’s Saatchi Gallery. GRAS developed a modular and reusable structure that provided a platform for each designer to showcase their own work, while also presenting the collective as a cohesive whole. The display was conceived to be highly engaging and elegant in its own right, reflecting the showcase’s focus on craftsmanship and design, while being subservient to the work being presented.
Gayfield Creative Spaces was an arts hub based in and around a former tyre depot by Gayfield Square in Edinburgh that provided a venue for exciting artist, designer, maker and gallery initiatives from 2013 to 2017. GRAS was tasked with redeveloping the tyre depot to establish a range of venues, workshops, galleries, studios and flexible events spaces that could support high-quality, cross-disciplinary collaboration.
Prior to alteration, the building was composed of a series of beautiful but disconnected and dysfunctional post-industrial spaces with remarkably varied characters. The challenge was to subtly unite these spaces and allow them to work together, creating a new, versatile home for the arts that was far greater than the sum of its parts.
Through the design process, the proposed interventions were simplified and reduced to their absolute necessity in a constant distillation and re-evaluation of the brief. The result was the most modest of interventions required to unlock the building, providing new facilities and circulation routes using a consistent and binding architectural language.
The aim of this project was to interrogate the notion of a building as a product rather than a process. By allowing visitors the chance to see Hill House as they have never seen it before, the Hill House Visitor Centre would have demanded an alternative perspective on the nature of permanence, the role of conservation and the future of Hill House. In collaboration with Invisible College / NVA, our proposal was to invite the public to engage in the story of a building as it emerges through its period of construction, use, and ultimate disassembly. Set alongside the planned conservation works on Hill House, this would have proven an engaging, thought-provoking and progressive critique on the future of Mackintosh’s buildings, and indeed all existing buildings.
Positioned along the back wall of the garden, the Hill House Visitor Centre provides a visible and accessible gateway to the grounds from both the traditional gated entrance and the carpark to the rear. From atop the garden wall, the visitor would experience a side of Hill House not usually acknowledged, while also enjoying a view of the River Clyde beyond the rooftops of Helensburgh. In contrast to the sculptural mass of Hill House, the Visitor Centre comprised a skeletal structure of scaffolding that sits lightly on the ground, stepping over the wall and bridging the carpark and garden; woodland and house.
Low cost, readily available and easy to assemble: traditionally, scaffolding is the parasite that clings to a building, In this instance, however, the scaffolding itself is the host, with the voids between the poles providing the spaces into which building boxes are nested. A definitively temporary architecture, this building is modular, demountable and adaptable. Its fragmented form allows the existing trees to remain standing in the voids of the structure, and encourages new growth to interact with the building over the temporary period of its existence.
A stands for a basic symbol of shelter.
A is a new landmark of Icelandic mountains offering a refuge to hikers.
A provides shelter for up to ten people simultaneously along with self-generated hot water and electricity.
A embraces the traditional design of A-frame huts recognizable in Iceland and forms its own language.
A is a perfect shape for withstanding the harsh climate of Iceland, resisting wind and snow.
A is an adaptable architectural framework, not a single design.
The Isle of May Light Beacon is a Scheduled Ancient Monument located on the Isle of May in the middle of the Firth of Forth. Dating from circa 1636, it is the earliest purpose-built lighthouse in Scotland and thought to be one of the oldest surviving lighthouse structures in the world. Over the years the building fell out of use and traditional repair materials were substituted for a more economical short-term solution, this combined with a reduced available workforce resulted in the repair and maintenance being increasingly compromised. Following increasing concerns over the condition of the building, GRAS were appointed to carry out a detailed survey of the building and make recommendations for its conservation and repair. Scheduled Ancient Monument consent was granted and through collaboration with both Historic Environment Scotland and a team of specialist conservators a schedule of works was delivered securing the longer-term future of the building.
Weather and tidal conditions often imposed logistical challenges, as well as the limitations placed on the times of year in which construction works could take place due to the Forth Islands being a Special Protected Area. The overall works included masonry repairs, re-harling, the application of limewash, replacement of defective joinery and the careful conservation of the armorial panel above the entrance door. This project required an informed and collaborative approach, involving several different stakeholders with often conflicting priorities. Thorough research and a meticulous approach to pre-planning and phasing of the works was essential, as well as ensuring that sufficient on-site quality control was maintained.
The design took the form of a ‘skeletal’ assemblage. Individual frames were customised for the artist and created a boundary encapsulating display pieces. The frames were joined to create a continuous structure which lightly floats within the room, allowing viewers to move in and out of the space – becoming part of the exhibition itself. Varying dimensions and heights allowed for for the framework to be re-usable and recyclable in the future elsewhere.
This proposal seeks to create a highly functional, flexible and adaptable series of structures which reflect the creative energy and diversity of the Fringe Street Events, while providing the conditions to maximise the engagement and enjoyment of visitors. These structures will be designed and built with a consistently bold visual style, connecting all components from entrance gate to market stall to stage.
The physical configuration and appearance of each backdrop, stage or entrance gate can be simply configured to suit the ever-changing performers’ requirements by manually rotating, sliding or moving components. The alteration of the structure is at first functional: to provide a backdrop which best suits a specific performance; to provide some shelter from the rain; or to communicate a new message to reflect the day’s activities. When extrapolated over the length of the street, these alterations will have playful and surprising results.
Introducing an element of augmented reality to the structures, the experience gains another layer where the visitors can navigate through the events and find more information about the ongoing events.
Through constant engagement by performers, visitors and even changes in the weather, the whole structure is in a continuing state of flux: never the same twice; interchangeable hour by hour, day by day and year by year. Feeding off one another, the structures, performers and people become a hypnotic theatrical performance. As well as their energetic and lively existence, the structures also provide places of calm and escape where one can retreat from the crowds for example via an elevated platform, to observe and watch as the entertainment continues below.
The Pavilion is a newly built, self-contained three-storey house within the curtilage of Lamb’s House in Leith. Built in the style of early 18th century garden pavilions, with an iconic ogee roof, the compact tower sits comfortably alongside the recently restored 17th-century Lamb’s House and its two-storey office extension. The romantic little building took three years to complete and now provides self-catering accommodation in the heart of the medieval Leith Conservation Area.
The Pavilion was built with impeccable attention to detail using locally sourced or reclaimed materials. The house was designed upside down, with the living areas on the top floor and the bedrooms below, which adds to the Pavilion’s uniqueness. The structure overlooks a south-facing walled garden that was inspired by the romantic gardens of the Italian Renaissance. With parterres, pleached hornbeams, roses and seasonal flowers, it provides the perfect setting for a drink or alfresco supper.
The property’s interior combines early 18th-century style with Scandinavian influences. The rooms feature a calming colour palette and are furnished with elegant antique pieces, perfectly in keeping with the main house. The living room on the top floor features a vaulted ceiling and an open fireplace that enhances the period feel. Other highlights include a bedroom with a timber-lined box bed, and the main bathroom’s freestanding cast-iron bath with a hand shower and traditional Victorian sink.
To book a stay at Lamb’s Pavilion see lambspavilion.com
Kennels Cottage is situated in the Cairngorms National Park offering breath taking views of the Glen with its ancient Caledonian Pine forest and the hills beyond. The Cottage was refurbished internally to upgrade the previous tartan inspired interior to a refreshing cool contemporary feel with an eclectic mix of the best of well-known design items and original Highland architecture.
The space holds a carefully selected range of handmade Scandinavian furniture with a bespoke and curated collection of Scottish handcrafted fixtures. This includes the oak kitchen table, bunk beds with oak ladder, built in display shelves and pitch pine boarding made from reclaimed floorboards. Slim underfloor heating has been installed and reclaimed floorboards were re-laid. The kitchen and utility room includes polished flooring made from Caithness slabs, handcrafted fitted units and oak worktops.
To create a more cosy and comforting interior the living room has been lined with wood-panelling which surrounds the open fire. This now contemporary interior combined with elements of the original mid Victorian cottage reflects the Scottish traditions of hunting and sheltering people from the harsh but stunning natural climate, representing comfort and warmth. Kennels Cottage is part of Wildland projects.
Interior design by Ruth Kramer and photography by Martin Kaufmann.
The category A-listed Town Hall in Lerwick dates from 1883 and is the most important civic building in Shetland. GRAS were commissioned to carry out an ambitious £1.2 million restoration and repair package incorporating the conservation and protection of a nationally significant collection of secular stained glass windows, designed and created by several of the leading makers of the time. The stained glass windows in the building had suffered for many years due to their harsh salt-laden environment; and although efforts had been made over the years to conserve them by applying external flexible polycarbonate sheeting, it had not been enough to significantly protect the historic glass.
The traditional isothermal glazing method was adopted and a prototype designed and built which addressed the very specific technical issues caused by the previous restoration methods and the particular physical environment. Following extensive research and testing, GRAS with Cannon MacInnes developed and installed a newly-patented non-ferrous isothermal glazing system which isolates the glass from the external environment while providing full adjustability and accessibility for maintenance. Further to this, the most deteriorated masonry around the windows openings has been removed and replaced with a salt-resistant stone with high cohesive strength which will result in good longevity and resilience to the extreme maritime external environment. These technical improvements, combined with the creation of sensitive interpretation have opened up the building to the public, increased the number of visitors to the area and greatly enhanced the long-term prospects for the building.
GRAS worked with US-based design practice wHY and engineering firm Arup on the winning proposal to revitalise a nationally-important site in Edinburgh’s West Princes Street Gardens. As one of the city’s most famous landmark locations, there was a great responsibility to reimagine this historic place through a design that is both innovative and respectful to the people, wildlife, landscape and heritage of the Scottish capital.
The competition-winning proposal comprises an organic landscape-focused scheme that respects the historic setting but also animates the Gardens through the introduction of a new undulating promenade together with improved access from nearby Princes Street and sculptural seating with dynamic open views.
Pause then enter beneath turf canopy, emerge and encounter a panorama at the top of the hill. Turn back on yourself and take shelter for a moment on a bench held by the land and roofed by its fauna.
A contemporary cave, it’s mouth framing the view of Loch Leven and the landscape surrounding.
A woven hollow on the hill’s prow providing time to pause think and observe; still, windless shelter. The calm eye of refuge and outlook in an otherwise exposed landscape.
GRAS were selected to submit proposals for a new lookout and rest stop on the Loch Leven Heritage Trail in Fife. The viewpoint is designed to encourage visitors travelling in either direction to pause to rest, appreciate their surroundings and contemplate their journey. When approached from either direction, it first becomes visible as a dry stone wall edge to the path. As the banks either side of the path rise up, the ground gently falls leading the visitor down into a broch like entrance wide enough for cyclists and pedestrians to pass. Timbers laid across the path heighten the senses and advise cyclists to slow or dismount on approach. As the path descends into an enclosed passage, the distant view is obscured and the eye is drawn to the textures of the stone walls and wall-growing fauna either side and the timber framed earth roof overhead. A 180 degree turn in the passage brings the visitor to a cavernous, sheltered space with a large single aperture cut from the undulating roof to frame the distant view with a ribbon of timber. Here visitors can sit on a long bench beneath a cantilevered roof and admire the panoramic view or interpret their surroundings with the pictograms and text etched into the timber ribbon running the full perimeter of the aperture. The space is large enough to hold a small group but small enough to feel intimate with one or two people. The nature of the two paths meeting in a sheltered space encourages visitors to engage with one another.
The viewpoint is located on a natural slope, which is dug away to form the enclosing space. Drystone retaining walls form the vertical edges while a timber frame supports the wild, grassy landscape which runs over the top of the enclosure. On one side the ground plane rises to form a covered space while on the other side it drops, to reveal the view and bring the small scale flora and fauna to a height where they can be easily viewed alongside the accompanying interpretative information.
The form is principally derived by the fold in the path and the natural fall in the landscape, but is inspired by ancient Scottish forms of construction such as Holms and Brochs and later blackhouses and crofts. Its organic, sinuous form references natural forms of construction such as cocoons and the weaver birds nest to create an organic enclosure, appropriate for peaceful contemplation.
Conceived by GRAS, Custom Lane is a collaborative platform created to identify, support and celebrate emerging world-class design in Scotland. Occupying part of a 19th-century Custom House in the heart of Leith, Custom Lane aims to provide Scotland’s most engaging, enriching and enjoyable work environment for designers and design-led makers. Working closely with the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust, which manages the site on behalf of the City of Edinburgh Council, GRAS has overseen the transformation of the previously inaccessible building into a vibrant creative hub.
In 2017 GRAS have submitted a planning application for River Craft: a new floating platform that is as an expansion to the Malt & Hops pub on the Shore, Leith, Edinburgh. The proposal was for the installation of a new floating deck (18.5 m x 6.3 m) to the eastern edge of the Water of Leith basin, directly opposite the pub, which can accommodate additional seating, a servery, storage space and an accessible WC. The expansion will also benefit from additional sunlight for a longer period of the day. Its distinct aesthetic will provide enhanced marketing opportunities to help improve the long term sustainability of the establishment while adding to the creative capital of the area.
The servery will specialise in the provision of locally sourced beverages, including craft ales, and in the cooler months will be used as a test brewery. It is hoped that in time the deck will act as a catalyst to develop the production of craft ales, cordials and tonics as part of the Shore Brewery project which is currently being developed locally.
The timber clad deck will be supported on a box iron frame, encasing ballasted floats. Around the perimeter will be fixed a timber-framed balustrade clad in flush-finished translucent acrylic. This will provide some shelter from low level breeze while maintaining views to the surrounding basin and associated wildlife and ecological habitat. The aesthetics of the timber-framed balustrade will continue around the platform to form the servery, store and accessible WC on the north side. The structure will be moored against the dock with fixed arms which are capable of moving up and down with the slight changes in water level.
Although the design is not specifically nautical, the overall form is inspired by local barges and Leith’s history as a port. The finishes throughout have been kept intentionally restrained, using only simple forms and modern architectural detailing. As such the proposal is respectful of the character and architecture of the surrounding area and is designed to be striking but not dominant.
River Craft has been designed locally and will be built by local craftsmen. The aspiration is that it will contribute positively to the community, further enhancing the vibrancy and diversity of the area while developing a local business to meet growing demand.
Lamb’s House is one of the finest surviving examples of a merchant’s house in Scotland and is now the most significant building of its age in Leith. The house, built in 1610, is category A-listed and lies within the medieval core of the Leith Conservation Area, close to the old harbour. Despite having suffered many inappropriate alterations over its long life, the form and essential character of the house remained intact and many of its original features survive today. These include the stone turnpike stair, fireplaces, slop sinks and most of the original pine beams.
Saved from demolition and partly restored by the 4th Marquis of Bute in 1938, Lamb’s House was given to the National Trust for Scotland by Lord David Stuart in 1958. The restoration was completed and the interior adapted for use as an old people’s centre, with the addition of a hall extension in 1960-62. In April 2010, GRAS’s directors acquired the building from the NTS. Its condition was poor, heavily vandalised and very institutional.
Strathmore Lodge is a unique self-catering property belonging to a collection of extraordinary restored retreats that form part of the Wildland conservation project. The Lodge, which dates back to the early 1920s, lies at a bend on the banks of the Strathmore River as it flows northwards into Loch Hope. This refurbishment project was the first step towards restoring a number of traditional corrugated tin houses across Sutherland, which have been part of the highland vernacular for decades.
Glenfeshie Bothy was renovated and extended to provide an access stair to the attic space increasing its capacity for the walkers who use it. The roof was replaced, fully insulated and lined internally with douglas fir boards. A new extension was built in stone using traditional techniques to house the new internal access stair which was also constructed in douglas fir. This extension also houses storage areas for the bothy. The two rooms on the ground floor have new flooring throughout and new stoves installed as the chimney was rebuilt. New doors and windows were installed throughout. The toilet was also fully refurbished to provide two toilets as opposed to one.
Killiehuntly is a luxury self-catering property belonging to a collection of extraordinary restored retreats that form part of the Wildland conservation project. The large 19th-century farmhouse and steading form the centrepiece of a rural estate in the Cairngorms National Park. All buildings have been carefully restored under GRAS’s direction with the use of local, natural materials and traditional skills. The interiors have been sensitively upgraded for contemporary living, whilst retaining historic architectural features and character throughout. The farmhouse opened in spring 2016 as a serviced holiday let, with its various outbuildings serving as additional accommodation. The restoration included returning the original water wheel to working order, providing a strong reference to the agricultural heritage of the farm.
GRAS created the central stand for the inaugural Scotland: Craft & Design pavilion, which celebrated the best in Scottish contemporary craft at London Design Fair 2016. Working to a brief set by our clients, Craft Scotland and community interest group Emergents, we produced a monolithic display element that showcased the work of 22 emerging and established designers and makers from across Scotland. The custom-made stand immediately attracted the attention of visitors to the exhibition, with its physical mass and integrated lighting drawing people towards the centre of the space and encouraging them to explore the various works on show.
Craigmillar Community Arts Centre is a category B-Listed former church in the West of Edinburgh. With the help of Big Lottery funding, the charity’s aim was to re-engage with the local community, providing an arts and community hub for the area. GRAS worked closely with CCA to focus on creating a more practical building, with a significant architectural intervention, including a new mezzanine, upgraded kitchen and WC facilities and improved accessibility throughout.
Dating from 1819 and Category ‘A’-Listed, Sumburgh Head Lighthouse was designed by the famous Scottish engineer, Robert Stevenson, and is recognised as one of the country’s finest industrial heritage buildings. The project involved the conservation, repair and adaptation of the complex of lighthouse buildings to create a first class ‘destination’ visitor attraction. The development includes a visitor centre focusing on the wildlife and unique history of the site, as well as a holiday and visitor accommodation and offices for the RSPB, all with improved access and parking. The collection of existing buildings, by their nature, turn their back on the harsh elements and huddle together as an inward looking group providing little opportunity to truly experience the place in anything but good weather. Newly-created space offers a sense of setting by allowing the maximum view and experience of the dramatic surroundings from a warm and dry space, regardless of the weather.
Drawing inspiration from existing WWII structures on and around the site, the education centre comprises of a 180° curved glass frontage to a newly formed concrete ‘bunker’, perched on the cliff edge, providing uninterrupted panoramic views from Bressay to Fair Isle. A ground source heat pump was installed to provide heating to the entire site and an array of solar panels contributes a significant portion of its energy requirements. Funding for the project was provided by the RSPB, Historic Scotland Heritage Lottery Fund, Scottish Government, Wolfson Foundation and the Shetland Development Trust. The Sumburgh Head Lighthouse project has received several awards and commendations, including Shetland Environmental Award 2014 Special Mention of the Jury in the Europa Nostra Awards 2016, Commendation in the Civic Trust Awards 2015, in the Conservation category, Highly commended in the Placemaking Awards 2015 for Best Use of Heritage in Placemaking.
Despite having only limited facilities at present, the Scatness archaeological site has proven to be a popular visitor attraction, with over 8000 people visiting the site each year. The need to consolidate and protect the site has become increasingly recognised as has the need to provide permanent interpretive and other facilities for the growing number of visitors.
This proposal creates a unique heritage site and first-class visitor attraction in which the archaeology is fully enclosed and protected and where visitors can view history being unearthed and discovered.
A single cord or rope is passed through tubes of varying lengths, cut and arranged to create a triangulated shape, and is pulled tight so that the cord is acting in tension and the tubes are compressed.
The route through the tubes is planned so that it can be accomplished in one pass without doubling back and is then used to lash a surface to the frame. We refer to them as ‘Himmeli inspired tubular structures.’
GRAS worked with the owners of Springkell to sensitively upgrade and convert the category A listed house to form a unique wedding venue with guest accommodation, providing the building with a sustainable use and income. The project included a discreet package of works to tackle a dry rot outbreak that threatened the survival of the structure, without damaging the beautiful plasterwork ceilings and panelling. Further phases of work to bring the currently-unused service wing and basement of the house of the house back into use are planned. These will start as funding allows.
Photography by Duncan Ireland
On the Isle of Vaila, Vaila Hall, a late 17thC castellated mansion has undergone complete conservation, with minor alterations and additions to create a unique private dwelling in the dramatic landscape of the Shetland Islands. Mucklaberry Tower, C19th 2-storey square plan Baronial reconstruction, was also refurbished as a retreat. The nearby Arts and Crafts farmhouse of Cloudin was fully refurbished and harled to protect it against the Atlantic gales.
Inveravon Church, Ballindalloch, has four Class I Incised Pictish Symbol stones; dating from around the 6th Century AD. The stones depict representations of the ‘Pictish Beast,’ the most iconic of all the Pictish Symbols. Set into the south wall of the church, the stones were exposed to the problematic freeze-thaw cycle of the Highland site. The mounting of the stones was also causing damp ingress through the wall of the church. The stones were conserved and carefully removed from the wall. Now relocated in the stable environment of the North porch, they are complemented by the installation of interpretation panels.
Lissan Demesne, Cookstown, is an estate owned by a charity for the benefit of the local community. When GRAS became involved, the whole property was in poor repair after decades of declining fortunes. Following a Feasibility Study, GRAS completed emergency repairs at Lissan House and a Conservation Management Plan of the estate. Major phase 1 works then followed, involving external restoration and internal upgrading of the house, improvements to access and parking, construction of an adventure play area, and collaboration with an external consultant to provide discreet interpretation. GRAS worked with key stakeholders to retain Lissan’s character as a unique family home and provide visitors with an insight into the history of its occupants. Phase 2 works, for the repair and conversion of the adjacent outbuildings to form further visitor facilities will recommence when funding becomes available.
The Galleria Temporanea, or Transient Gallery, formed part of Scotland’s contribution to the International Architecture Exhibition during the Venice Biennale in 2012. The mobile pop-up gallery explored the significance of everyday functional objects that create or enhance a sense of collective identity across the communities that use them. It presented these often forgotten or overlooked artefacts in a gallery-like environment to celebrate their history and encourage debate on the relevance of such shared functional objects in past, present and future communities.
Often operating without official consents, the gallery was erected in minutes and remained in situ for approximately one hour in each location, before being dismantled as quickly as it arrived. The project was made possible through extensive experimentation and collaboration with artist Tim Taylor, along with joiners, stone masons and fabricators whose expertise contributed significantly to the outcome. The project was delivered on a very low budget and was built, transported and erected by GRAS in various locations in Venice, before returning to Scotland for use during events in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
In Venice, the Galleria Temporanea was installed around the disused wells that dot the city, temporarily isolating, framing and objectifying them as important works of architecture. The design responded to the Biennale’s theme of ‘Common Ground’ which invited architects to reflect on “continuity, context and memory” in the discipline of architecture. The gallery consisted of several interlocking panels featuring an outer surface made from rough, hand-carved polystyrene. The heat-sealed polystyrene evoked the aged surfaces of the stone wells and the walls were topped with a smooth upper course into which the project’s title was carved in a capitalised Roman-style font.
Pitsligo Castle is a scheduled ancient monument and a category ‘A’ listed building. It consists of a large roofless courtyard castle dating mainly from the 15th and 16th centuries, set in approximately four acres of grounds within which is a walled garden and woodlands. The castle has been largely ruinous for a great many years now and although some consolidation and stabilisation works were undertaken in the late 1980s much of it remains in a parlous condition. GRAS were first appointed by the Pitsligo Castle Trust in 2004 to prepare a Conservation Plan on both the castle and the nearby Peathill Kirk, with which it has close historical associations.
Following the offer of a generous repairs grant from Historic Scotland, we were appointed by the Trust in 2009 to implement the first phase of a carefully prioritised programme of repair and consolidation works. These works comprised the removal of corroded shoring, scaffolding and heavy vegetation growth, the installation of new support structures, extensive masonry repairs and selective repointing works. Further phases of repairs are planned in the future subject to funding.
Brough Lodge, Fetlar, is undergoing a phased restoration project, orchestrated by the Brough Lodge Trust. Built in 1825, this highly unusual category A-listed gothic mansion has lain empty and unused in a very exposed environment since the 1980’s and has a great many conservation needs. The aim is to restore and creatively re-use the building as a mixed-use commercial venue, focusing on hosting short courses and activities involving the arts and environmental themes.
Brough Lodge will benefit the local community by maximising the potential for development of the tourist market, expanding knowledge and understanding of Fetlar’s cultural background and creating new jobs and economic diversification: essential to the island’s long-term survival and future development. The first phase of carefully prioritised conservation and repair works was completed in 2016 with generous funding from Historic Environment Scotland and Shetland Amenity Trust.
The category A-listed former Dowanhill Church was built in 1865 with interiors and stained glass by Daniel Cottier. The building is owned by a charitable trust, FACT, whose aim is to advance the arts and heritage for the benefit of the local community. GRAS has worked over many years with FACT to convert this church in Glasgow’s West End into a sustainable and vibrant theatre, arts and wedding venue, restaurant and bar.
An initial priority was to carry out urgent repairs and follow these up, as grant funds became available, with full conservation repairs. The timing of the later repairs has had to be balanced with adaptations to the building to enable sustainable uses to emerge combining commercial activities with cultural uses. We have also had to find creative solutions to meet statutory safety standards without compromising the character and original fabric of the building. This involved creating a bar and restaurant in the smaller building, thus generating an income stream capable of supporting funding applications for the repair and upgrading of the main building. Afterwards, comprehensive repair of the external fabric was undertaken. This was then followed by a major engineering project to create a basement below the auditorium, expanding the useable floor area as well as improving functionality and operational needs. Conservation phases have included restoration of the original decorative scheme and the fine Willis organ.
Arguably the finest ecclesiastical building in Shetland, the category B listed St Magnus Church was designed by Alexander Ellis of Aberdeen and dates from 1863-64, with the addition of the bell tower undertaken in 1899 by the Inverness architect Alexander Ross. The Church is broadly in the early pointed gothic style, with detailing that shows the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement, particularly through the treatment of the tower. Internally, the building displays many fine features, including an open timber roof with scissor trusses over the nave and a magnificent collection of stained glass by the famous architect and designer, Sir Ninian Comper.
After successfully applying for and securing substantial grant funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Environment Scotland, GRAS were appointed to put in place and see through to completion a comprehensive package of internal and external fabric repairs, including major structural works to the tower, complete re-roofing and extensive remedial works to stone masonry, stained glass and internal finishes.
The creation of a comfortable, and contemporary dwelling through the refurbishment and re-instatement of this 17th Century category B listed farmhouse and steading range, including the restoration of an original tower house and mill wheel. Lightweight elements were introduced to link new accommodation in the steading buildings. Alterations to the steading itself are limited and seek to maintain the character of the existing courtyard, resulting in a dignified and practical family residence.
This category ‘A’ listed building, the first ‘Palladian’ style house to be built in Scotland, dates from the late seventeenth century. By the early 1990’s, gutted by fire, and a derelict shell, it was acquired by the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust (SHBT). Work started on its restoration in 1993 and continued in phases as grant funding became available.
The final phase was completed in March 2001 with assistance from Historic Scotland and the Heritage Lottery Fund. The restoration of this building demonstrates the adaptability of a 300 year-old house to provide modern office accommodation and function rooms. Groves-Raines Architects was appointed by the SHBT in 2011 to carry out a detailed condition survey, prepare a prioritised schedule of repairs and provide a fully costed 20 year forward maintenance plan covering both the building fabric and services.
Niddry Castle is a scheduled ancient monument and category A listed building which comprises a large and imposing late 15th / early 16th century L-plan tower house. The castle had lain empty and largely ruinous for many years until the late 20th century when limited repair works were undertaken. GRAS were appointed by new owners in 2006 to survey the building, establish the extent of repair and remedial works required and apply to Historic Environment Scotland for grant finance. This application was successful and generous grant funding was secured from HES.
Following this, consents were obtained and an extensive package of external and internal conservation and repair works was undertaken, including rebuilding the gable walls and parapets, extensive masonry repairs and complete re-roofing. The works were completed in 2010 and the castle is once again fully occupied and it’s future made secure.
An exclusive new housing development which was granted planning permission and listed building consent as part of an enabling package to facilitate restoration and reconstruction of the 17th century Sydserf House in East Lothian. The new ‘steading’ complex based on the original 19th century steading comprises of five new dwellings with courtyards and gardens.
A-Listed Belmont House was built in 1775 on the most northerly of the Shetland Isles; Unst. The country house had fallen into an advanced state of dereliction when the Belmont Trust was established in 1996, with an aim to save and faithfully restore the building. The conservation philosophy was to disturb the existing fabric of the house as little as possible, whilst restoring the original fabric and features.
The full and detailed conservation of the interior and finishes was undertaken by a small team of local tradesmen from Unst. Original materials were re-used where possible and salvaged materials were introduced to match where required. The project received generous support from a number of agencies and charities, including Historic Scotland and Shetland Islands Council.
Photographs by Mark Sinclair
Internal Alterations to a B-listed, three-storey townhouse on India Street in Edinburgh’s New Town. The project involved the faithful restoration of the property, returning several rooms to their original configuration and reinstating or repairing a range of original features. Stonework, roofing, window and drainage repairs were carried out on the exterior of the building, and where possible, existing floorboards were preserved.
New electrical, central heating and plumbing systems were designed and installed with great care and attention to detail to ensure that they did not have a detrimental effect on the quality of the building, while radiators and fittings were specified to match the buildings period, with the exception of a contemporary kitchen, designed and installed by Newcastle Kitchens.
Completed in 2010, Station Road house was the first to achieve a Category 6 (excellent) environmental rating in Ireland and is close to passive standard. The house is of a traditional “Tuscan” style to suit this important conservation area to be in scale with the neighbouring nineteenth century style villas.
The project required the reinstatement of missing period features to a fine Greek revival house as well as all necessary repair and new services. The stair had its cast iron balustrade restored and panelled doors and cornices were put back as required. The project included re-roofing and masonry repairs. The fine carving to the entrance doorway was restored including the full replacement of badly eroded elements. A new open plan kitchen, morning room was created and a large glazed garden room with timber lining and encaustic tile floor was added. New decorative etched glass panels were designed for various doors and windows.
Designed in collaboration with Architect, Nicholas Groves-Raines, this structure, which serves as a composting area and garden store, is an organic extension of the garden and the woven edging to the paths from which it springs. Its origins are derived from basket weave or hazel hurdles using woven rebar and corten steel. The organic form embraces a 5 ton boulder on the site and is located at the furthest corner of the garden, providing a point of interest for garden visitors and for walkers on the adjacent Water of Leith Walkway.
Photographs copyright of Dan Farrar
In collaboration with both Castlehume Golf & Leisure and Nick Faldo, GRAS carried out the master planning for International Championship Course Spa Hotel, golf village, waterside apartments on the shores Lough Erne and Castlehume Lough, Enniskillen. Around 88 new holiday homes were built and design cues from the historic estates of Castlehume and Ely Lodge ensure that the village sits comfortably in its setting, benefiting from the balanced hierarchical layout of spaces typical of eighteenth century estate planning. The inaugural ‘Duel on the Lough’ event took place in July 2009 between Padraig Harrington and Rory McIlroy.
GRAS were approached to reconfigure and amalgamate two A-listed properties into one at Royal Terrace in Edinburgh. The brief was to create a two story dwelling with 3 public rooms, 4 bedrooms and a large dining/kitchen linked by a new stair. As it was the most significant alteration to the property and pivotal to the success of the project the client was keen to explore the possibility the clients were keen to explore the possibilities of the stair. Positioned at the heart of the house the stair linking the two levels together allows as much light as possible into the lower ground floor level.
Inspired by the work of sculptors Locky Morris and Barbara Hepworth, the proposal endeavoured to abstract the floor surface to form a sculptural, flowing spiral. The conventional spiral stair plan has been twisted so that the leading edge of each tread runs perpendicular to the tangent of the central void, meaning that visually, each tread tapers into the next creating a continuous timber surface when viewed from above. In order to achieve this complex geometry while allowing light to pass through the structure, each tread is supported on a unique cantilevered steel profile tapering in plan and section. While forming a single solid surface when viewed from above, the profile of the treads mean that each step is viewed as an individual element from below: visually reminiscent of turbine blades or a wing profile. The light flows between the steps and creates different qualities of light and form when viewed from any point in the space. A central glazed balustrade is supported from the end of each cantilevered tread, while a recessed handrail runs around the perimeter wall.
Designed by Architect Charles Wilson, Park Circus breaks the traditional of the Glasgow grid plan and makes the most of its panoramic hilltop location. Built c.1860 the townhouse at No. 18 has an interior designed by the Architect William Leiper, a Gothic Revivalist and one of Scotland’s leading architects at the time. The opulent interiors include ornate plasterwork, timber panelling and stained glass windows.
Once the home of a transatlantic cotton merchant, the building had been in use as offices and had fallen into disrepair. GRAS were appointed to sensitively convert the A-Listed building into six apartments and one mews property whilst retaining the overall planning of the buildings. The grand central stair facilitated access to the new apartments. Essential services were discreetly inserted whilst important architectural features were retained and restored. Critical features such as fire separation and a sprinkler system were also implemented.
Restoration of a listed country house – parts of which date to the 17th century, with much 19th century addition – from a hotel back to a family home. Complete refit of main house, with extensive stripping out, was required to remove unsympathetic alterations, stop the progress of rot and neglect, and to introduce new, modern services to create a comfortable family home.
The project included alterations to and restoration of the 19th century stable block to form staff accommodation and a party room. Also included was the restoration of the 19th century Lodge House with the addition of a new timber framed extension and repairs and restoration of the Doocot, Apple House and greenhouse.
GRAS were invited to design the SIX awards and exhibition which features the best work from the future stars of Scottish architecture. It showcases young talent and offers a rare opportunity to see work from all six of Scotland’s schools of architecture together. The SIX 07 exhibition aims to give a sense of importance and permanence to the student work through the use of digital media and by referencing to protective archiving systems. Where traditionally student work is presented on gallery walls, each school’s work is presented centrally within six polished storage units. Images of the work are projected in an interactive format on top of the units with hard ‘archived’ copies of the work stored in six sliding drawers.
The pieces are intended to be highly interactive and their positioning in the centre of the gallery encourages interaction and discussion between audience members. Each box can be dismantled into a series of components suitable for transport to the six schools of architecture throughout Scotland. The exhibition was commended in the Best Exhibition category at the Scottish Design Awards in 2008.
Photography by Andri Haflidason.
The restoration of a derelict listed 18th century cottage adjacent to Cameron Toll shopping mall & car park. Once a home to Conan Doyle in childhood, the house was gifted to the Cockburn Conservation Trust who engaged the services of GRAS to faithfully restore the fabric and convert its use for Dunedin School, a charity specialising in teaching educationally fragile pupils. Works were partly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the City of Edinburgh Council and funds raised by Dunedin School.
Hay’s Dock forms part of the new Shetland Museum and Archive in Lerwick. Built in 1815 by the firm of Hay and Ogilvy, it forms an important and integral part of Shetland’s maritime heritage. The work consisted of the restoration and repair of the oldest surviving man-made dock in Shetland, the fingerpier, the area around the dock and the boat-building shed. Traditional methods and materials were used throughout, such as lime and wrought iron. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Scotland Shetland Island Council and others.
Originally bought by Nicholas Groves-Raines and Kristin Hannesdottir in the 1980’s the basement was a disused part of a B-listed city centre tenement block in the Tron area of Glasgow. The flats above were developed and sold but the basement lay disused for over twenty years until GRAS was formed in October 2006. GRAS took occupancy in the small ground floor shop and began work developing the space beneath them.
For four months GRAS acted as tenants, architects, clients, project managers and often labourers, allowing them to view the project in detail from a number of different viewpoints. Great efforts were made to maximise the available floor area and ceiling height while trying to retain as much of the dramatic character of the space. The unassuming shop front entry at 11 James Morrison Street leads through the reception areas, at the rear of which an industrial mesh stairwell, lit from below leads down to the lower ground level studio space where five backlit sandstone columns stand complimented by clean white walls and a slate grey floor. The floor steps down from here to a sequence of double height studio spaces centred on large brick buttresses, lit by a full height glazed door to the commonly owned garden at the rear of the building. The resulting space is unexpected by the visitor and full of hints of Glasgow’s history, from the hand made brick walls to the remnants of Glasgow’s historic street frontages now hidden far below ground level.
Completed in 2006, this ogee roofed pavilion was an extension to a 16th century Towerhouse. The stone built pavilion opens onto the garden, accommodating a dining room and ancillary rooms. It sits comfortably in its setting, complementing both the Towerhouse and its Georgian extension.
Category A-listed Kirk of St Nicholas in Aberdeen is one of the most important and oldest ecclesiastical buildings in Scotland. The Open Space Trust, a charity, seeks to develop a visionary scheme to re-integrate the former East Kirk with the heart of the city and provide a place to be used by the city’s people. GRAS have worked with the OST over a number of years to prepare for a comprehensive scheme to reconfigure the interior of the historic church for a multitude of new occupants and uses. Before any works could begin, an extensive study and internal archaeological investigation was carried out. This provided an incredible insight into the building’s history and revealed many burials that have been painstakingly excavated.
Following on from these works, an initial phase of external fabric repairs and restoration works was undertaken to stabilise the shell of the building, involving the replacement of inadequate roof slating with a new lead sheet finish, extensive dry rot repairs, comprehensive repair and replacement of all stained and leaded glass panels, associated tracery stonework and repair to the granite stonework, pointing and cast-iron work. GRAS are currently working on creation of an internal crypt in which the excavated remains are to be reinterred, replacement and relocation of heating plant to the Kirk’s steeple, and both funding applications and discussion with Aberdeen City Council and others with regard to the major scheme to refurbish and reconfigure the whole of the East Kirk in the future.
A new-build private house in the Italianate manner with traditional detailing and materials of high quality. The design takes advantage of the spectacular views over Gullane Golf Course on it’s southern boundary.
A new-build private house on the site of a previous farmhouse, Drumskew was designed not only to enjoy its fine views of the countryside, by virtue of its elevated position, but also to have an internal focus to the enclosed courtyard. the detailed design of the building reflects design traditions of the region.
Constructed circa 1575, this L-plan tower house, a scheduled monument, lay in ruins for many years. Ancient Monuments Consent was granted for a full restoration of the ‘A’ listed building to a private house, in close collaboration with the Ancient Monuments Division of Historic Scotland. The restoration was meticulously carried out using appropriate materials and techniques, in keeping with the building, its character and significance.
Broadwoodside Steading is an outstandingly successful restoration, conversion and extension of a B Listed farm steading, creating a generous family house featuring ample guest accommodation and stables. The historic building provided a sound framework within which comfortable, contemporary accommodation fits seamlessly. Completely new elements; the archway, doocot, loggia and ogee garden room were incorporated to give cohesion to an otherwise disparate group of farm buildings.
Now a private shooting lodge, Hopes House in East Lothian was built in1823 for the Hays at Yester by James Burn of Haddington. Work consisted of a complete refurbishment of the original house and the redesign and replacement of the rear service wing to include catering kitchen and staff accommodation. Within the walled garden are new ogee-roofed pavilions creating further staff accommodation. External works include landscaping, new tennis court and fountain.
The Eric Liddell Centre was a competition winning entry for the conservation and conversion of the redundant B-listed North Morningside Parish Church into a local community centre founded in memory of the Olympic gold medallist. The owners are a care charity, set up by the four congregations of the local churches, who work to provide alternative services to vulnerable people including those with dementia.
The project involved a radical intervention within the protected church nave to provide the required accommodation; creatively inserting a bold new structure within the existing building to create a reception, café, offices and flexible new rooms and suites that are available to hire to generate income and therefore ensure the project’s long-term future. GRAS and the structural engineers collaborated closely on this significant intervention, which additionally allows for closer enjoyment of the fine William Wilson stained glass windows, to ensure that the external shell of the building and the local conservation area remained unaffected by the development. All of the existing fabric of the building, including the glazing, was also carefully conserved and repaired as part of the grant-funded works. This marriage of imaginative reuse, conservation and upgrading has created a successful community hub that is welcoming, practical to manage and sustainable.
St Andrew’s Church in the East end of Glasgow is of immense architectural significance, having been designed in 1739 by the architect Allan Dreghorn and built by the master mason Mungo Naismith. It is considered one of the best classical revival churches in Britain and is A-listed. Glasgow Building Preservation Trust’s main aim was to restore the church to its former glory but in order to make it sustainable, additional facilities were needed. As the church sits on an island site at the centre of St. Andrews Square, no additional structure could be added. Thus the bold decision was taken to excavate under the existing building to achieve the space required.
The Church was opened to the public on St Andrew’s Day, 30th of November 2000, as a centre for traditional Scottish music, song and dance. St Andrew’s Church was awarded the Dynamic Place Award in 2001, Europa Nostra Diploma in 2001, Glasgow Institute of Architects President’s Choice Design Award in 2001, Civic Trust Award in 2002. and RICS award in 2003.
Arniston House, one of Scotland’s architectural gems, was designed by William Adam and completed in the 1750s by his son; John Adam. Later alterations by John and Robert Adam resulted in the grandest rooms, the drawing room and the dining room. Sadly these were severely damaged by water ingress and subsequent dry rot in the 1950s. With grant aid from Historic Scotland these rooms have now been reinstated. The Dundas-Bekker family now open the house to the public.
The project involved restoration of the listed external fabric and remodelling the interior, including the replacement of the original timber roof structures, to create a light and modern space for living and working.
Goblusk House is situated on the banks of Loch Erne. The design was based on Palladio’s Villa Forni-Cerato, with further influences taken from a neighbouring Victorian Italianate mansion. The plan of this family house is centered on a dramatic elliptical stair surmounted by a glazed cupola.
Liberton House is an A-listed, fortified house, built in the late 16th century, and was home to the Groves-Raines family and Groves-Raines Architects until moving to Lamb’s House in 2010. Gutted by fire in 1991 after a long period of neglect, the house and gardens have been restored and now form a comfortable modern home and offices with a beautiful Renaissance garden.
Tollcross House was built in 1848 by David Bryce for the Dunlop family. It was converted into a local museum at the turn of the century within the recently created Tollcross Park. Latterly derelict, this category “A” Listed Building was purchased by Groves-Raines Architects for £1.00, restored, and converted into 13 flats for the elderly in collaboration with the National Trust for Scotland in 1992.
The world famous Traverse Theatre was established in Edinburgh in 1963. On moving to the Grassmarket in 1969, GRAS created bespoke flexible seating system. On moving to Saltire Court in 1992 a version of this system was used in the studio theatre whereas a totally flexible new system was invented for the larger 350 seater theatre. The Traverse is acknowledged as the well-spring of innovative drama in Scotland. Its award winning bar is a destination point in the heart of Edinburgh.