Richard Murphy Architects
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House Near Earlston

House Near Earlston

This unusual project proposed placing a substantial new house on a prominent location within an area designated as the historic landscape of Carolside House near Earlston, albeit a section of it that has been enveloped by forestry. The opportunity existed briefly to restore the landscape in its entirety before the time limit expires for the statutory requirement to re-afforest the site. This section of the landscape constitutes the original approach to the house from the road and is a critical part of the overall picturesque intent of the historic landscape intention. The site is mostly surrounded by existing woodland and is a raised knoll to the east of the descending road to Carolside House, from it there are potentially views up and down the Tweed Valley formed by discreet clearings in the trees.

At first sight it might seem a contradiction to place a new house within this proposed landscape restoration. Our solution solved this conundrum by forming a building which appears to have no clues as to its function or indeed whether in fact it is a building at all. A circular rampart-like two metre high coarse stone rubble wall was proposed. There are occasional breaks in the wall and from within the enclosure distant views can be seen. The north-west elevation (the part which confronts the historic entrance sequence) is unbroken. The wall might appear to be like a giant sheep pen or some mysterious archaeological object (it is coincidentally the same diameter as the broch at Edin’s Hall, Berwickshire, fifteen miles away).

The house itself is predominantly single storey and is concealed within the circular wall and planned as an ‘L’ shape around a walled garden. Only one element, the living room, projects onto the first floor and is a glazed pavilion and will, therefore, appear as a contemporary version of a folly on a hilltop. The roof of the remainder of the house is planted as a roof garden.

Access follows a renovated forest walk from the original forest landscape and is, therefore, disguised by trees so that no road appears and the object retains its typological ambiguity.

The materials would have been local rubble stone, a small area of pressed metal roof to the pavilion and within the walled garden a steel frame and hardwood glazing screen.

The project was narrowly defeated at a planning appeal and became the subject of a BBC TV programme "The Planners".

Other Details
Architects Richard Murphy, Klas Hyllen, Alex Thurman
Engineers Create Engineering
Landscape Architect Tim Reid, Urban Wilderness
Planning Consultant Clarendon Planning and Development
Client Robert Younger
  • 07 June 2012Appealing DesignThe Scotsman
  • 05 December 2011Getting Round To Restoring Woodland Site....The Borders Southern Reporter
  • 23 November 2011Richard Murphy Reveals 'Hidden' Underground HomeArchitects' Journal Online
  • 17 November 2011Stealth-broch Grand Design To Hide A Family In The TreesThe Scotsman
  • 16 November 2011Richard Murphy's Hill Fort HouseBD Online
15 Old Fishmarket Close, Edinburgh, Scotland, EH1 1RW | Tel 0131 220 6125 |