A luxury eco-home situated near the village of Moniaive in the south-west of Scotland, Three Glens combines luxury design with sustainability. The house is made up of recycled and reused materials whilst all of the insulation used on the property is made from 2,000 sheep fleeces from the local farm.
The floor has been crafted from recycled railway sleepers and the stone throughout the head is from the fallen-down walls on the farm. In addition, the house is 100% self-efficient for energy, made up of a ground source heat pump, solar thermal and a wind turbine.
What’s the story behind Three Glens?
Three Glens is a new house that already feels deeply connected to the landscape that surrounds it, as many of the materials used in the house have been sourced from the farm itself.
These include the stone walls, the oak cladding, and even the insulation which is wool from the sheep grazing in the surrounding fields. Existing dry-stone walls sweep upwards and extend through the very heart of the house, providing an axis for the layout.
What inspired the design that we see in Three Glens?
The forms and materials of the context provided the inspiration for the design of the house. Its location, in front of a rocky outcrop, immediately adjacent to a copse of trees, ensures that the building is rooted in its site. It is also at the junction of three existing dry stone walls, or dykes. These walls, using local stone, which are used to divide fields, are seen throughout the local landscape and the use of these to integrate the house into the context is a key design element.
Full height glazing in the living space opens onto a decked balcony commanding panoramic views across the countryside to where the three glens converge. The land and the weather provide the resources necessary for living in the house, and this is expressed through the architecture. Both modern and established technologies have been harnessed depending on their appropriateness for meeting certain needs and site resources available.
Why was creating an eco-farmhouse so important when looking to open a hospitality space?
Together with Mark Waghorn Architects, the Gourlay’s dreamed of creating not just a building, but also a place in which to encourage, teach and inspire others to use available resources responsibly for the benefit of future generations. Both are working hard to communicate this vision and to promote a way of living that can be demanding, but that is deeply rewarding.
Visitors will be able to experience for themselves and learn about the benefits of living in a modern sustainable farmhouse. They will be served meals made with ingredients produced on site or locally in any of the other farms owned by the Gourlay family.
In a world where a photo can be shared in seconds – how important is the design of a space as well as the experience on offer?
The design of the house and the experience on offer are part of a larger vision. The owners and architects share the same passion for the environment and the philosophy that encourages people to have an interest in the sources of what they use in their daily lives. They believe that rural areas can provide bountiful renewable resources for all of society, but that this opportunity relies on wise stewardship of the land.
Do you think becoming sustainable is more important recently? We’re seeing a rise in hospitality venues offering more sustainable options in their accommodation – do you think this is due to customer demand?
Everyone is aware of the increasing urgency to find ways of living that do not damage the environment or the well-being of future generations. This house and the experience it offers to the visitor demonstrate that living sustainably, through sourcing food and other products locally, and staying in a well-insulated building using renewable resources is not only possible but can provide a better, more rewarding quality of life, and actually reduce one’s ongoing living costs.
Can sustainability go hand-in-hand with luxury, in your opinion?
We want to fulfil people’s cravings to reconnect with the wild by designing simple living spaces that satisfy the longing to get in touch with the environment. Our designs embrace this new perception of luxury as they reconnect with the environment and engage with nature.
We take pleasure in the handmade, the use of natural materials and the enjoyment of simple things. We want our projects to generate a strong sense of being inside, safe and sheltered from a vantage point but still connected and in tune with the elements.
Our goal is to make sustainable and low impact living desirable, and Three Glens embodies this ambition.
Tell us a little more about what makes Three Glens an ‘eco-champion’.
The design of the house did not end when construction began. As with any crafted object, the nature of the materials and context continued to influence the project as it evolved. Objects, artwork and materials found on the farm, or sourced from farther afield, were introduced and found their respective place in and around the building.
For example, the stone wall that passes through the living room is now alive with artifacts, each with its own history. Some of these stories are self-evident, some will be shared by the Gourlay’s on enquiry, and some merely hint at their past.
Materials have been reclaimed and recovered from buildings both grand and prosaic; from external floor paving that was originally destined for the world-famous Gleneagles Hotel to the internal stair timber that was reclaimed from a cattle barn on the farm.
The interiors have been finished and furnished following the same principle; reclaimed railway sleepers have been sawn, treated and polished by local craftsmen to create wooden floors and functional furniture; skins from cows in the farm have been used for upholstery; artwork by local artists has been carefully selected and displayed around the house; every item and every detail tells of a previous life, that makes every corner in this house unique.
What challenges did you come up against when considering the design of Three Glens?
Here, the scenery is stunning, but the seasons can be harsh. The weather helps create the resources that provide a farmer with his livelihood, but it can also cruelly take these away. With this understanding of the powerful bond between a farmer, his land and the climate, one can see that the landscape that surrounds Three Glens is intricately tied to the house and to the family that has built it. The house is already rich in history, as the ancient setting is already part of the house, and the house is part of it. They share the same soul.
What is your favourite part of Three Glens?
Lounging on the banquette in the living area with my back gently warmed by the kachelofen (masonry stove), whilst looking out at the dramatic view through the panoramic windows.