Sycamore House, near Biggar


This contemporary 4-bedroom home was designed to use natural materials, and sits on an infill plot set back from the main Edinburgh to Biggar road. It was the intention that all aspects of the project – dealing with the existing site, the landscaping, the structure, materials and life-use of the new building – were all appraised for their environmental impact and appropriateness.

Where possible, all materials have a low embodied energy – they require minimal or no processing from their natural state. Untreated Larch boards were chosen to clad the elevations of the building’s structural timber frame. Elsewhere, simple, good quality and natural materials were used, such as cellulose insulation, lime render, bamboo and rubber flooring.

The basic design and orientation aims to maximise passive solar energy via large windows to the south-east and south-west with smaller windows to the northern sides. The main south-west elevation is almost fully glazed to maximise the entry of sunlight to the upper level. The other windows are all positioned to frame particular views – notably the corner window seat framing the woods to the north, and the kitchen window framing the view across the hills to the south-east.

The accommodation was designed with bedrooms located on the ground floor, allowing elevated views across the valley and onto the landscaped roof terrace from the first floor open-plan kitchen, dining and living room.

Photographs © Douglas Gibb / Icosis

Shortlisted for Saltire Society Housing Design Award 2008