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Burmieston Steading, Perthshire

Burmieston Steading, Perthshire

A traditional Perthshire agricultural steading restored and converted into guest accomodation and multi-use spaces.

Overview

Burmieston is a traditional Perthshire agricultural steading, constructed in the 1800s. As farming changed, the buildings became redundant and fell into a state of disrepair. The concept was to bring the buildings back into meaningful use and to create a flexible space where guests could interact with the natural landscape. The project was to convert, restore and retrofit the buildings in the courtyard into accommodation and multi-use spaces. Sustainability was at the heart of every decision and the overall project brief.

 

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Approach

Key to the brief was to adapt to and mitigate against climate change, using innovative ideas and green technology wherever possible without compromising comfort, function or quality. As well as enjoying a relaxing stay at Burmieston, the hope is that guests will take home some of their learnings about design to mitigate climate change and incorporate some of these elements into their own builds or interior projects.

The design team (clients, architect, engineer) worked closely together throughout all design stages.

To protect the special sense of place and retain Burmieston’s architectural heritage, a gentle approach to the exterior was taken. The conversion of Burmieston steading is sympathetic and respectful of the existing buildings. All original ridge lines, form and materiality were retained. All stonework was retained and only areas which were structurally unsound were rebuilt. All new openings were inspired by the existing openings. The barn remains an unheated space so as to allow the stone walls to be a feature. The existing building set limitations to inform the layout, orientation and flow of the new spaces.

Performance

High quality sustainable and efficient materials were used throughout to create a high quality, comfortable environment with a strong connection to the landscape. The buildings are naturally ventilated and all design decisions were based on simplicity and sustainability in order to respect the simple agricultural character of the buildings and setting.

Water management: The rainwater is diverted into a rainwater harvester system for flushing the toilets.

Renewable technology: Water is first heated by solar thermal. If it is not up to temperature it is further heated using a biomass heating system reliant on wood pellets.

Reclaimed materials: The flooring through the rooms and barn is reclaimed sports hall flooring from the London Olympics Copperbox stadium. The wooden plinths in two of the bathrooms are old timber joists from the property. Granite shelves from the old larder have been used as bases for the basins in two of the bathrooms. One of the shower divides has been formed using an old stone dairy partition. All stonework was restored and repointed where possible. Where stone areas were rebuilt, this was done using stone from the tumble down parts of the buildings. Original slates from the building were recovered and redressed, with the short fall made up from similar aged slates found locally.

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Timber: Timber boards are used to panel the outside of the boiler room as well as the kitchen island surrounds. Timber paneling will be used in the snug (currently under construction). In the original stables, the shape of the stable divides has been reinstated as a room divider with the main post old wood from the original building.

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Lessons

1. It was difficult to find tradesmen who were experienced using modern ‘sustainable’ materials and to find local building merchants who stock sustainable or ‘green’ materials. Most of the information available on materials is from the manufacturers rather than from case studies or users, making it difficult to know whether their claims in real life situations and under Scottish conditions are factual. The combination of these two issues will limit the take up of sustainable materials as it’s easier and cheaper for the contractor and the client to use what is readily available.


2. One of the most successful areas of the building is the courtyard with its covered outside space and herbaceous borders. This outside space allows a type of lifestyle that is not common in Scotland but as the climate changes, future buildings could better include these spaces. The extra shade on hot days as well as the option to be outside in cold or rainy weather, allows a connection with the beautiful scenery at Burmieston.


3. Incorporating natural light into most of the rooms through the use of skylights positively impacts on the feeling of space and light within the rooms, even on dark days. The higher than average ceiling heights allow the light - both natural and electric - to bounce around the rooms.


4. The heating system originally used wood chip but finding a source of woodchip at the required moisture content proved challenging. Irregular moisture content damaged the original system and required subsequent changes to the fuel store as well as the software on the boiler making the system a lot expensive than originally expected.

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