One of the hardest and yet crucial aspects of being an Architect and possibly any designer, is getting inside the head of your customer or client. The person who is ultimately going to be using and hopefully enjoying the realised design. If you can fully understand the specific and sometimes subtle needs of the user, you are well on the way to a successful project. At GLM, we strive to make this happen and it is extremely gratifying when a client acknowledges so, as was the case during a project debrief with the client for our project at Bughtknowe House, Humbie. Knowing that GLM were up against some other formidable and well respected companies when the client was selecting a suitable architect for their new family home, I asked them what it was that made them choose ourselves. It was because “We just got it!” We understood their needs and sharing with them that I had 3 growing boys of my own pretty much clinched the deal.
Thanks to a well written (not drawn) brief from the client we were able to immediately engage in the design process, letting our imagination mould their requirements into a 3-dimensional form. Whilst the project was essentially an extension to a Victorian house, it was practically a new build project. The “extension” comprised a basement and 2 wings, both double storey, increasing the footprint of the existing house threefold.
With this project being a family home, as well as simply providing the required accommodation, my goal was to arrange this in a well ordered, practical and logical manner. A place for everything and everything in its place. The rooms were all to be accessed from wide circulation spaces on both the Ground and First Floors that were much more than mere corridors from A to B. It may not have been my first choice of style, but the client was keen to tie in with the look of the existing house with its stone walls, crow stepped gables and slated roof and so we worked with them in shaping a well-proportioned and timeless design.
Internally, the remodelled family home was designed, thanks again to our friend Malcolm Duffin in a classic, comfortable contemporary style.
The build process was very straightforward although the big lesson learned was to make sure you have below ground drainage fully designed and specified before work commences if you want to keep control on the costs. Convincing a client that this needs expensive and intrusive ground investigations as part of the design process is not always easy.
For me, the highlight of the project came right at the end soon after the family had moved back into their transformed home. During one of my visits I went upstairs to the new bedrooms to find Lego sprawled out across the floors of not only the boy’s bedrooms but also the extra wide circulation space between. Yes, it may have looked untidy but it showed that my design had worked. Each child had their own private space, somewhere to call their own and there was plenty more besides where they could meet and play together.
David Johnson, Director
Head of Architecture