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Zinc House

LJR+H Chartered Architects

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  • General Contractor: West Developments
  • Structural Engineer: James Sinclair Associates

Project Status



525 sq. meters
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This project is on the longlist for the RIBA 2016 House of the Year Award.

Project Description

A collection of abandoned farm sheds on the site provided the inspiration for the built form. The house is articulated and unified by a continuous roof. Built over one-and-a-half storeys the whole is divided into four tied elements - car port, garage/office, entrance/court, and house.

The agricultural landscape of Angus is the setting for 'Zinc-House', the site topography is agrarian, expansive and deceptively undulous, it is also distinctly regularised, with the remnants of greeny-grey chlorite infused dry-stone dykes ordering gridded field patterns.

Existing on the site was a collection of abandoned farm storage sheds, their aggregated form creating a large plan footprint which was formally articulated by a series of simple pitched roofs. Buildings of this typology have a certain inevitability of form, scale, position and material expression (locally quarried stone with metal roof) that renders them a potent presence in juxtaposition with the working landscape they support. As with the Drummond House, it is the manipulation of this typology which forms the overriding conceptual idea for 'Zinc-House' but in this case the plan and section, form and material expression is contextually inflected to articulate a new place-specificity.

The house presents as a composition of aggregated internal and external spaces articulated and unified by a continuous roof. Built over one-and-a-half storeys the whole is divided into four tied elements; car port, garage/office, entrance/court, and house. The clients desire to capitalise on an uninterrupted southerly aspect whilst also having more intimate and characterful spaces is realised through the sectional split: articulated free-plan on the ground floor with a formed room-plan above. Cut from the house, on both levels, are protected external terraces facing south and west. A further external space, the entrance court, locks the building into the landscape and provides containment to the main living space to the north.

To give primacy to the formal intent of the building the architects chose to unify the elements in a single skin of ‘betongrau’ Zinc. The colour was chosen to match the chlorite mineral characterising the local stone and also to reference the ubiquitous agricultural sheds found in this region. The combination of a strong agricultural form and unifying ‘industrial’ skin removes associations of the domestic. It lends an ambiguity of function that is only clarified on visiting the building where the careful articulation of living spaces and the attention to detail become apparent.

A balance between the client and architects desire to open the internal spaces to the landscape using large areas of glazing, and the imperative to conserve energy is achieved by increased levels of insulation in the fabric, and by the introduction of mechanically driven cellular blinds controlled by a whole-house automation system. The blinds trap dual cushions of insulating air in winter and have the added benefit of providing solar screening in summer. A discrete solar PV array located in the South West corner of the site also contributes significantly to these energy saving measures.
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