Practice

Since its inception in 2003, Icosis has aimed to produce high quality, individual projects for each of our clients, and the practice has a growing reputation for design quality and the innovative use of natural materials. Initially the majority of the commissions were one-off domestic projects for private clients – extensions, new houses and small housing developments – all treated with the same approach of sustainability, innovative design, careful choice of materials and attention to detail. Increasingly the practice has been commissioned to work on a number of larger, commercial and community-based projects where the same approach and principles have been applied.

Sarah Sutherland (Director)

Trained at the University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne School of Architecture. She worked in New Zealand for a year, working on and researching ecological building methods, and completing a diploma in Building Biology, before moving to Edinburgh to join Gaia Architects. She moved to Simpson and Brown Architects in June 1998 to become part of the team working on the Scottish Seabird Centre at North Berwick. Sarah is a member of the Scottish Ecological Design Association (SEDA) having served as both Secretary and the Vice Chair from 2006-2009.

Euan Millar (Director)

Trained at the Mackintosh School of Architecture in Glasgow and undertook a postgraduate year in sculpture & painting at Cyprus College of Art, before completing a Conservation Diploma at Edinburgh College of Art in 1996. He worked with practices in Singapore and Edinburgh, including Simpson & Brown Architects for 5 years, before establishing Icosis Architects with Sarah. Euan has an RIAS Accreditation in Sustainable Building Design.

Michael Davidson (Associate)

Joined the practice in December 2004 having previously worked for Richard Shorter, John Renshaw Architects and Simpson & Brown Architects. He trained at Edinburgh College of Art, completing a Post Graduate Diploma in Architecture and Architectural Conservation in 2007.

Philosophy

We approach building projects from the start of all commissions with a view to making each development as sensitively designed, ecologically benign and energy efficient as possible. We advocate the use of natural & sustainable materials to all clients and aim to specify only locally sourced materials where this is possible and practical, whilst considering their embodied energy, particularly of the main construction elements. This process is equally applied to the conservation of Grade A- listed buildings, the sensitive introduction of new elements within historic structures, or for new buildings. We believe that an environmentally aware approach on all projects has many benefits for clients, both commercial and private, in terms of reduced waste, lower cost-in-use, design for flexibility of use, and helps produce solutions that are economical and sustainable to both construct and maintain thereafter.

The design of each project is location specific, dealing with the orientation, topography and individual characteristics of each site and this approach, in combination with a thoughtful context-driven choice of materials, allows new buildings to be distinct and yet sit sensitively within their particular environment. In order to achieve this successfully, we consider the longevity of external materials, and generally favour those which require little or no maintenance, which tends to result in buildings which look good at the point of handover, but become more aesthetically pleasing over time as they weather into their environment. We aim to minimise the use of additional mechanical & electrical services within projects due both to the cost of installation and maintenance, and potential future failure, and concentrate on designing highly efficient and passive building envelopes, focussing on the type and orientation of the glazing, the type and efficiency of the insulation, the quality of the materials and the air tightness of the construction.