Clients: Sutherland & Co.
Text description provided by the architects. The building occupies the site of a former wynd which once ran from North Berwick’s high street down to the town’s west beach. This has resulted in a remarkably narrow and deep plan with an internal width of little more than 3.5m, while the site extends for 45m. The building was gutted by a fire in the 60s and then witnessed incremental adhoc alteration, leaving little of value.
The redevelopment was as much an exercise in subtraction as in addition, removing accumulated layers of past development. A poorly placed fire escape, built following the 1960s fire, compromised the first floor layout but was made redundant by the introduction of a sprinkler system, allowing the interior to be substantially opened up. Removal of the fire escape also frees up the rear of the site for future development.
The project uses a restricted palette of self-finish materials. Oversized sliding panels made from cross-laminated spruce allow main studio and meeting space to be closed off when needed. A battened wood wool ceiling provides a unifying element and exaggerates the depth of the interior. The timber battens conceal sliding door tracks and lighting, as well as mastering the ceiling panel joints. A generous new rooflight brings daylight into the heart of the deep plan.
The building’s constraints have dictated aspects of the design, for example, with insufficient frontage for a second entrance the first floor studio is entered through the ground floor shop unit. We were however fortunate to find a tenant with a compatible business.
The project was effectively self-built, delivered by Sutherland & Co. through a parallel development company. This gave flexibility to adjust and fine tune aspects of the design while the work was underway. Investing our time and energy in the project also helped to get the most out of a relatively modest budget.