In 2014 we were approached by a London based client who had heard of our expertise in historic buildings, to design a unique, fairy-tale property in the Highlands of Scotland. The design brief stipulated that the edifice was to be a holiday home for the family to escape from the noise and bustle of central London. Initially, the client had no specific location selected, therefore we assisted in the investigation for an appropriate site. After viewing several locations, a beautiful landscape site was chosen near Balallan in central Lewis, situated in the Outer Hebrides archipelago. Sited on the edge of an escarpment, facing north west towards the Atlantic, the Castle was specifically designed to take advantage of its stunning location.
In the finest traditions of Scottish castles, the new edifice consisted of a primary tower house, with a curtain wall and ancillary buildings within the bailey. The main tower has a hall / snooker room and a bedroom and bathroom on the ground floor. A dining room and kitchen on the first floor, with a living room and study on the second floor. A master bedroom and guest bedroom, with accompanying bathrooms on the third floor, with a parapet walkway on the roof. There is a staff cottage for the housekeeper or chef, depending who is in residence, and a curtain wall tower room which provides additional guest accommodation. A three-car garage and bin store complete the complex. The overall site footprint covered 700 sqm, with the various buildings floor spaces covering 660 sqm.
Remarkably, one of the stipulations for the design, was that it must be as close as possible to an authentic medieval castle. Therefore, is has 1.1m thick walls, arrow loops on the lower floors, crenulations, quenching holes, yetts, cross bars and bretéches, all designed to repel attackers! This authenticity was carried through to the materials specification of the building, with granite and sandstone being used for the exposed masonry elements and walls covered in either marl, lime render or lime wash. Oak framing was used for the castle’s doors and windows, with triple glazed handmade glass filling the window apertures. The pitched roof was covered in slate, with a lead covering for the parapet walkways. Internally, flagstone floors, oak joists, granite corbels and window shutters were specified to create a genuine medieval aesthetic. The interior decoration featured a range of newly designed furniture in a sympathetically medieval style, with tapestries and carved wall panelling creating a grand, yet intimate feel for the occupants.