Aberfeldy, Perthshire


Garth Wood House is located on the boundary of forest and steep embankment, overlooking the confluence of the Rivers Lyon and Tay, in Highland Perthshire. The pavilion style house has been designed with the living quarters to the upper storey, including the master bedroom, dressing room and study together with a large covered balcony to two sides, maximize the site’s outstanding 1,000ft views. This platform level sits above service accommodation and additional guest bedrooms at the ground floor that open out directly to the mountainous garden being planted with seedlings and edge of forest plants.

The entire house is designed around the central core adjacent to which are all the individual rooms. This is a library, to house the clients’ 10,000 books, with a wide stair leading to the upper floors cutting directly through from the entrance level. The library is allowed to expand over time as the budget allows with books shelves added annually, with eventually the entire entrance level floor, surrounded in bookcases. It is a timber framed house, covered in blackened timber designed to set the house in the context of the dark larch and spruce forest behind. On approaching the house, the entrance way is highlighted to lead through from the undergrowth of the forest and out from the canopy of trees. The full height windows reach out over the surrounding dramatic scenery. The client brief included imagery of Norwegian forest houses, along with contemporary pavilion buildings which have informed the design.

The result is a robust, ergonomic and sustainable design within influences from Scandinavian architecture of the clients’ heritage. It is realised with a mixture of larch, hazel screens and glass balustrading set deliberately low, to allow the views to be enjoyed at sitting level. Low level windows are contrasted with the cathedral type ceiling to give an intimate experience while making the best of the volumes created. Heating is via a ground source heat pump and underfloor heating. The interior is constructed around simple shapes and clerestory South facing windows flooding the interior with light. The wide open tread staircase allows for the central library core to house double height floor to ceiling shelving and lead off to the kitchen, master bedroom and other living spaces and take in the multiple viewpoints surrounding the home.

The clients were involved with every aspect of the design, which evolved over a four-year period, along with construction carrying out much of the decorations works themselves, including the blackening of the timber.

We were delighted that the project was shortlisted for the Dundee Institute of Architects Awards 2021, in the Best New House category.