Dezeen Magazine

Transformed Highland buildings by Moxon Architects

Moxon Architects converts trio of highland outbuildings into guesthouse and artist's studio

British studio Moxon Architects has repurposed a small cluster of 19th-century farm buildings in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, into a guesthouse, glasshouse and private artist's studio.

Built following the restoration of the owner's main house in a hillside settlement in the Cairngorms National Park, the completion of the trio of buildings marks the end of a decade-long undertaking by the studio to reoccupy the site.

Moxon Architects' collection of buildings in highland Aberdeenshire
Moxon Architects converted a collection of farm buildings in the Scottish Highlands

According to the studio, three material choices defined the design: expressed oak in the guesthouse interior, Douglas Fir timber for the glasshouse and frameless glazing inserted into apertures throughout existing wall structures.

"It is testament to the robustness and resilience of the historic buildings that this is a project characterised by retention and repair," said Moxon Architects founder Ben Addy. "Where there are new interventions, they are modest yet highly crafted, and seek to emulate the craft, form, and rigour of the 170-year-old architectural fabric."

The artist's studio by Moxon Architects
The artist's studio (on the right) repurposes a former sheep wintering shelter

The L-shaped guesthouse was rebuilt from a partially collapsed cattle shed as a detached extension of the client's primary home.

A double-height living space and kitchen lie underneath an exposed hayloft roof structure, while the walls were finished with a textural clay plaster and oak joinery to disguise modern appliances.

Double height interior living space of a highland guesthouse
The guesthouse was built within the partially collapsed walls and roof of the original cattle shed

The most ruinous building of the converted trio was the greenhouse. Remnant stone walls became a backdrop for a glazed extension which was framed with structural timber and a steel portal enclosure.

"The glasshouse does not follow a vernacular pattern, it is a new form, but it carries the same spirit [as the original building]... undertaken with great care and precision in the detail," said Addy.

A glasshouse with a glazed wall extension
A southwest facing glass wall and steel portal roof enclose the glasshouse extension

To the northern edge of the glasshouse lies the artist's studio, which contains a private workshop, kitchen, wet room and storage for the designer client, Naomi Mcintosh.

Interior walls were lined with maritime pine and contrasted against a rough steel block insertion coated with phosphate and beeswax.

Steel stairs and interior details against original granite stone structure
Existing granite walls provide a backdrop for steel interior details in the artist's studio

For both external works and internal detailing, Moxon Architects prioritised using and reusing materials sourced from across the site.

"Where the masonry has been rebuilt the stone has again come from the site itself – zero material miles," explained Addy. "Similarly, wind-blown cherry and ash from the garden has been turned to form door handles and other joinery details."

By referencing the robust material choices of the region, Moxon Architects sought to create a sense of longevity and resilience.

"Durability, in all senses, was important," said Addy. "We developed the design and details to ensure that these once derelict buildings will survive for the next two hundred years."

Interior view of artist's studio with maritime pine and design work by Naomi Mcintosh
Maritime pine flooring was used in the artist's studio

"Most of all, it is about continuity in the 'art of building' embodied by the existing buildings," Addy continued.

"For what are ostensibly humble vernacular structures, the precision of the original construction is remarkable… and it was important that the new parts brought forward the same sensibilities."

Detail corner view of guesthosue interior and plaster finish
Textural clay plaster finishes line the double height guesthouse interior

Founded in 2004, Moxon Architects has offices out of both London and Aberdeenshire. In 2022, the studio was awarded RIAS' Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award for their Quarry Studios project.

The photography is by Simon Kennedy.

More images and plans

Ground floor plan
Ground floor plan
First floor plan
First Floor plan
Roof plan
Roof plan
Ardoch guesthouse bathroom
Ardoch guesthouse bathroom
Ardoch guesthouse kitchen
Double height guesthouse kitchen
Ardoch guesthouse kitchen
Double height guesthouse kitchen
Glasshouse exterior glass and timber wall
Glasshouse exterior glass and timber wall
Glasshouse exterior night view
Glasshouse extension
Highland conversion by Moxon Architects
Glasshouse sheltered granite wall
Glasshouse sheltered granite wall and steel roof structure
Artist's studio internal pine detailing
Artist's studio internal pine detailing
Artist's studio internal pine detailing and joinery
Steel joinery contrasted against maritime pine in the artist's studio interior