House on a Hill / Paterson Architects

© Keith Hunter Photography

Architects: Paterson Architects
Location: Aberdeenshire,
Project Year: 2010
Photographs: Keith Hunter Photography

A timber clad extension to an existing farm cottage, commissioned by MAB Limited, a small development company, for a young family and their children.

The house on a hill is a response arising from a sensibility and intention about architecture which places an emphasis on the pragmatic and develops our clients brief and their aspirations into, purposeful and appropriate spaces without profligacy or wilfulness.


The house is contextual, it is site responsive, and it is contemporary. It could not have been realised in its finished form in any other place or time.

The design aims for a good ordinariness. A pragmatic approach driven by the clients brief and the opportunities of the site, developed without formal agenda or polemic.

© Keith Hunter Photography

The modern kitchen is the heart of the family home and no longer a detached workplace; it is the place where friends and family are entertained, and children are raised. Here it is central to the organisation of the plan in three dimensions, with surrounding space and volume defining circulation and the arrangement of public and private space. Corner windows subvert the introverted nature of the simple and appropriately scaled volumes, tracking the sun throughout the day and opening to the landscape and horizon beyond. Simultaneously inside and outside they transform the experience of the space from the introverted intimate focus of the hearth, to the expanse of the wilderness beyond.

© Keith Hunter Photography

Sustainable construction – with FRC sourced timber – is virtually carbon neutral, whilst high insulation levels and considered window openings keep heating and lighting loads to a minimum.

Whilst an unashamedly contemporary addition to an existing traditional cottage, the architecture is unassuming and robust. It sits comfortably and confidently in the unfolding history of a site which has been in constant occupation for the past two hundred years, and will endure and adapt for the inheritance of future generations.

Cite: "House on a Hill / Paterson Architects" 14 May 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 24 May 2015. <>
  • isla

    i thing the extension could have had more relation (formal relation, architectural relation) with the pre existing house, wich, in my opinion, is much better architecture than the new one.

    bdw, what about the landscape architecture?, this extension could be in any landscape, and in any house. Just my opinion.

  • Ralph Kent

    It looks like a fairly generic architectural response to me. I notice from the plans that an old bothy was removed to make way for the new wing – I assume it was probably dilapidated – but perhaps it could have played a bigger role in the new design?

  • hZ!

    I agree with Ralph; an echo of the style of the old building in part of the extension could have been very pleasing, if the extension must insist on taking such a style. Apropos of said style, I’m looking forward to the re-subsidence into coma of the flat (and of the butterfly) roof. Flat appears to have become de rigueur. Like narrow rectangular glasses, it is already over, though this is yet to be generally realised.
    Some variation in the vertical window positioning would have been pleasing, and relief from the relentless enclosing, overshadowing band around the tops of the walls. I think that the risk of their appearing obtrusive was not so great.

    It’s hard to argue with the values stated in the text. Whether they are successfully represented in the building is moot.

    It is effective in providing an interior space that looks unpretentious and clear-headed. I hope the occupants are enjoying it.

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