Arbuthnott House


Private Residence





Brief and Response

The client came to us with a venerable house that had been in the family since the twelfth century. Containing spectacular seventeenth century plaster ceilings, this house was virtually uninhabitable due to a dingy kitchen with an old oil fired Aga (the only means of heating in the house) and sagging floors, not to mention woodworm and dry rot. We drew up plans of the building and prepared a scheme to re-model the interior. The initial reaction from the local authority was unfavourable, so we brought in two Professors of Architectural

History to analyse the multi-layered history of the building. Working with them to provide a strong case for our building conservation scheme, the final analysis of the building cast new light on it. Our proposals for the building included the creation of a new library under a rebuilt flat roof with a new rooflight, which incorporated the original eighteenth century bookcases and created an elegant and purpose made estate and family archive. We installed numerous bathrooms although it was decided not to allow plumbing above the most precious of the plastered ceilings.

Being the most straightforward of the biofuel options available, we installed a woodpellet fired heating system. The client was very keen that energy should be conserved in the building but also incidentally the estate has its own woodpellet plant, Stovies. The project ended up tackling all the problems that the building presented. The overall result is a comfortable and warm house which, having skipped a generation, is now occupied by the client’s family. This project was shortlisted in the 2013 RICS Awards in the Building Conservation category.