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Ardoch, Aberdeenshire

Words:
RIAS Jury

Moxon Architects retells the art and craft of an old highland farmhouse as a contemporary family home in a decade-long reconstruction culminating in a 2024 RIAS Award

Ardoch. Credit: Simon Kennedy
Ardoch. Credit: Simon Kennedy

2024 RIAS Award

Ardoch, Aberdeenshire 
Moxon Architects for Naomi Mcintosh & Ben Addy 
Contract value: Confidential
GIA: 500 m2

Overlooking the River Dee in the Cairngorms National Park, the compact hillside farmstead of Ardoch has been restored, reinstated and reinvented for the 21st century following a decade-long project of careful reconstruction by Moxon Architects.

Using a combination of traditional and contemporary methods, each of the five main buildings on the site has been renewed or repurposed as a home, studio and orangery for the owners. Each building has been brought up to modern standards of energy efficiency with an exemplary level of craftsmanship, all while respecting the highland vernacular.

  • Ardoch. Credit: Ben Addy
    Ardoch. Credit: Ben Addy
  • Ardoch. Credit: Simon Kennedy
    Ardoch. Credit: Simon Kennedy
  • Ardoch. Credit: Simon Kennedy
    Ardoch. Credit: Simon Kennedy
  • Ardoch. Credit: Ben Addy
    Ardoch. Credit: Ben Addy
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The main farmhouse was built by the Duguid family in the mid 1850’s, succeeding an ancient single room – a ‘blackhouse’ – built into the hillside behind. Other buildings on the site include a steading, a glasshouse and a studio. Connecting the buildings is a track leading up to and beyond the farm which was laid for Queen Victoria to enable her to look down on Balmoral from the top of Creag a’ Chlamhain.

During the decade during which the architect has slowly designed, developed and re-constructed Ardoch, design decisions have benefited from the time taken to be considered, re-considered and re-considered again. With each of the original buildings, the footprints and apertures in the stone have been consciously retained, avoiding the temptation of extending or creating overtly contemporary openings. Inside, the architect has designed new linings: exquisitely detailed and highly crafted interventions working with local cabinetry makers and steelworkers.

  • Ardoch. Credit: Simon Kennedy
    Ardoch. Credit: Simon Kennedy
  • Ardoch. Credit: Simon Kennedy
    Ardoch. Credit: Simon Kennedy
  • Ardoch. Credit: Simon Kennedy
    Ardoch. Credit: Simon Kennedy
  • Ardoch. Credit: Simon Kennedy
    Ardoch. Credit: Simon Kennedy
  • Ardoch. Credit: Simon Kennedy
    Ardoch. Credit: Simon Kennedy
12345

The granite walls have been rebuilt or repointed in lime mortar, and the roof structure makes use of slimmer sections of timber, but twinned up – a distinctive characteristic of the original buildings. The thick Scotch slate on the roof of the main house has been re-laid on new pine sarking, with each slate copper clout nailed but also bedded in lime mortar, and set out in the same graduated sequence of large to small from the eaves to the ridge. Where the masonry has been rebuilt, the stone has again come from the site itself. Similarly, wind-blown cherry and ash from the garden has been turned to form door handles and other joinery details.

The jury enjoyed hearing how the site’s history had informed spatial and material design decisions and jurors were mesmerised by the highly-crafted architectural interventions. Neither ostentatious nor grand, this farmstead-cum-home is an exemplar of ‘contemporary repair’, where the art and craft of existing buildings have been retold in a re-interpretation of their own architectural language.

See the rest of the RIAS winners hereAnd all the RIBA Regional Awards here

Credits

Contractor Tor Contracting/self build/separate trades
Structural engineer Graeme Craig Consulting Engineers
Project management Ben Addy

Credit: Moxon Architects
Credit: Moxon Architects
Credit: Moxon Architects
Credit: Moxon Architects
Credit: Moxon Architects
Credit: Moxon Architects

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