Moxon Architects’ new headquarters in rural Scotland reclaims a former quarry and dump
Phrases by Sophie Tolhurst
Pictures by Timothy Soar
Gross (inside and exterior) flooring space
401m2 (plus 65m2 with roof terrace)
Type of contract or procurement route
Moxon Architects was consumer, designer and builder. All industrial points have been beneath its unique management
Development price per m2
Tor Contracting/Moxon Architects
Graeme Craig, consulting engineer
George Watt + Stewart Architects (CDM Coordinators)
In the bowl of a disused gravel quarry, dipping beneath the dense protection of birch, aspen and pine in Cairngorms Nationwide Park, is the brand new Scottish headquarters of Moxon Architects. The encompassing panorama is spectacular; ‘all glacial drumlins, eskers’, describes Ben Addy, managing director of Moxon, making a ‘actually beautiful rolling knot of panorama’. Whereas this space is a Website of Particular Scientific Curiosity, the previous quarry, in contrast, had been used as a tip by the roads division of the native council, and so was ‘filled with street sweepings and bits of junk’ when Moxon arrived on the web site.
As soon as cleared out, a studio and cafe have been positioned throughout the attribute bowl form of the quarry, to really feel embedded within the panorama – in a ‘recessive’ manner, as Addy places it. Within the remaining house, Moxon is working to restore the harm brought about to the land by the location’s years as a dump: re-establishing wetland with a pond and a lavatory within the center (the studio roof directs rainwater into it); making a wild flower meadow; and incorporating native tree species equivalent to juniper, in addition to defending the self-seeded birch that has began to develop there.
The one-storey constructing sits a number of metres beneath the rim of the quarry, with sections of mono-pitched roof angled to match the slopes of the panorama. Its exterior is predominantly black, interrupted by two concrete chimneys. The roof gives a sheltered colonnade across the constructing and over a walkway paved with wood cobbles created from Douglas fir offcuts.
Though situated simply off a fundamental street, the constructing is usually hidden, apart from a public-facing cafe known as Tàrmachan. ‘The one bit that sticks its head out, because it have been,’ Addy says. Together with a restaurant within the design geared toward creating jobs in an space the place they’re comparatively scant, however the distinctive setting and fantastically designed constructing additionally gives a possibility to do one thing a bit totally different, Addy explains. Tàrmachan, run by a pair, affords speciality espresso and meals made with high-quality, domestically sourced components. ‘They’re actually younger and are taking advantage of the chance,’ Addy says. ‘They’re doing a tremendous job.’
A meadow behind the studio; a lovely, holistic place to create
On account of the cafe’s presence – already fashionable within the quick time it has been open – Moxon incessantly has curious folks exploring the perimeter of the studio, and even on to its roof. Given the agricultural location, this was a welcome shock. ‘It was simply great as a result of there have been so many individuals across the web site, wandering round, having fun with the place,’ Addy remembers. ‘It’s fairly good for us as architects to have a little bit of life across the place.’
The crew had beforehand been working from a studio close by, situated in one of many outbuildings of Addy’s residence. This had numerous issues, not least the steep observe to the door – troublesome to traverse in winter months. But it surely additionally lacked assembly rooms and enough house, partly as a result of Moxon didn’t initially anticipate it could have a lot work in Scotland in contrast with its London workplace.
The brand new house is greater than ample for the follow’s present workers, leaving room for the crew to develop as much as a ‘wise most’ of 25 – Addy says that the follow is already trying to tackle extra workers as soon as lockdown restrictions finish.
There’s a fundamental open studio house, stuffed with work stations and drawing boards; a mannequin room that’s ‘essentially extra messy’, Addy assures; a extra formal boardroom-style assembly room; and a ‘lounge’ space for workers, for stress-free with coffees or taking casual conferences.
Birch bushes have proliferated on the location, a improvement that Moxon needs to safeguard
The interiors are stuffed with white, as a counterpoint to the outside’s black surfaces. It’s gentle and ethereal, the north gentle coming in by means of a clerestory window at first-floor stage. Addy notes that this gives a ‘good, even high quality of sunshine’, with out problems with direct daylight, in addition to offering ‘great’ views up in direction of the birch bushes that line the quarry’s rim.
Probably the most placing characteristic is a wall that intersects the buildings, product of large interlocking blocks of Douglas fir. Operating by means of inside and exterior areas it divides the private and non-private areas, although, crucially, with apertures offering ‘filtered views’, Addy explains; these should not stable divides.
Quarry Studios affords the sort of studio house Moxon wanted for its operations in Scotland – with waves of pure gentle tumbling by means of north-facing home windows
Having this stack of timber clamped along with vertical metal rods is a ‘fairly uncommon technique to make a wall’, Addy admits. Its development ‘permits for the timber to shrink, break up and contract because it dries out through the years, and but it stays in the identical place’. it a yr later, Addy says that though there are different methods of doing it, ‘I don’t suppose [they] would have been anyplace close to as profitable.’
The Douglas fir wall, partitioning the non-public from the general public
The power to pursue these concepts and realise each element precisely as desired was made attainable by Moxon being not simply consumer and architect, but in addition contractor on the challenge – the latter by means of Addy’s enterprise, Tor Contracting. Whereas that meant Moxon carried all the chance of the challenge by itself, it additionally allowed house for alternative. ‘You’ll be able to apportion threat otherwise, you’ll be able to apportion price otherwise,’ Addy explains.
The studio, firmly embedded in its panorama
It enabled Moxon to pursue these extra unconventional particulars. ‘We have been in a position to say, “We’re going to spend extra time on these particulars and make it possible for they work, and, you recognize, if it doesn’t work the primary time round then we’ll strive it this various manner.” You’ve acquired that latitude that you just wouldn’t have in any other case.’
Along with industrial areas, there are leisure rooms for Moxon’s workers to calm down in
Quarry Studios, rigorously designed to suit its distinctive context, with concepts pursued and finely executed, not solely creates an exquisite base for Moxon’s Scottish enterprise to develop additional, but in addition serves as a persuasive introduction to the follow, whether or not for visiting potential purchasers, or certainly any cafe common or curious passerby.