Andrew Doolan Award for Best Building in Scotland 2018 Shortlisted

RIAS Award 2018

Saltire Housing Innovation Award Winner 2018

Scottish Design Awards Residential Project Award 2018

Wood for Good/Forestry Commission Scotland Award for the Best Use of Timber 2018

Winner of the Edinburgh Architectural Association Wood Award 2018

‘the future of Scottish home building’ Homes and Interiors Scotland February 2018

‘ a beacon of light’ Urban Realm magazine Winter 2017/18


The client is a group of four separate families who have come together to purchase the site and build a small tenement block that will contain a bespoke flat for each owner. They are excited by the prospect of being able to build their own place to live and are inspired by the idea of a bespoke high quality building with exemplary environmental credentials. Working together like this, without the involvement of a conventional developer or housebuilder in what we call a Collective Custom Build offers a number of advantages over a conventional procurement route:-


  • The families are involved right at the start of the process and can have a bespoke home uniquely designed to meet their own individual needs.
  • All participants wanted to make the project low energy to minimise ongoing costs and reduce the use of natural resources, with sustainable, natural materials for low maintenance.
  • Working as part of a group the participants have shared both the successes and difficulties of the project, and got to know each other as future neighbours before actually moving in.
  • Most importantly, all of this has been provided more economically than with a conventional ‘mass housebuilder’ model because the housebuilder’s profit is removed from the equation; each home is purchased at cost.


One in ten new homes built in Berlin are procured this way; in the last five years hundreds of schemes have been built there providing thousands of new homes. Our pioneering project in Bath Street, Portobello has shown that it can work just as well here in Scotland.


Three of the four families involved are current Portobello residents and feel strongly about the building contributing to the local sense of place in Bath Street. The format of the building follows the traditional Scottish tenement model, with a central shared  stair providing access to the flats and also to a shared garden on the roof. The building is carefully integrated into the street by stepping the façade in both section (to address the change in scale from the four storey Victorian tenement to the right hand side of the site to the two and a half storey Georgian house to the left) and plan (a 600mm change in plane of the two buildings on either side allows the introduction of a continuous three storey bay window which provides views up Bath Street towards Arthur’s Seat and reflects the verticality of the adjoining tenement). A contextual approach also informs the selection of materials, with the main facade being predominantly red sandstone (used as a rain screen to reflect the nature of the building structure) and Reglit cast glass, which references the historical industry of Portobello and provides a durable and visually lightweight material which ‘reads’ correctly above the open pend to the rear garden below. Upper level and rear facades are formed in dark grey zinc cladding to reference adjacent slate roofs.


A ‘shell and core’ approach to the build has been adopted, which has enabled individual owners to take on varying degrees of fit out in their own flats, thus further reducing build costs.


A high level of sustainability is a key driver. The scheme is designed to Passivhaus equivalent levels of energy use and uses a Cross Laminated Timber structural frame to deliver exemplary levels of embodied energy. The growth of timber for the frame absorbed 114 tonnes of carbon emissions – an average UK resident’s emissions for approximately 12 years. High levels of insulation render a central heating system unnecessary and all remaining electricity will either be generated via photovoltaic panels on site or procured from 100% renewable energy – the building will be completely fossil fuel free.


A proposed new build house in Joppa, Edinburgh. The house occupies an existing narrow triangular plot which is extensively overgrown. It is designed to sit carefully in one corner, maximising the extent of retained trees and shrubs and enhancing that where possible to increase the biodiversity of the site. The house is timber post and beam construction to minimise disruption of tree roots, the triangular footprint and mono pitch roof together creating a simple but elegant wedge shaped form which is substantially single storey but with access to a roof deck at one end.

The model is by Nathan Hudson


A retirement cottage sitting mews style at the end of a long walled garden, it is entered via a covered, colonnaded walk giving views into the garden courtyard. At the end of the colonnade a large open plan living/dining/kitchen contains a long built in south facing bench seat overlooking the garden with full width sliding windows such that when opened the bench effectively becomes external.
A separate entrance off the colonnade gives access to a first floor studio/office/guest bedroom with en-suite.


Our most recent Collective Custom Build project, located in Leith, Edinburgh. The project contains flats for 3 families across four upper floors with a commercial space to the ground floor.


A new studio for a sculptor in Perthshire. The building was designed to accommodate large sculptural pieces at ground level with a smaller painting studio at first floor, both spaces lit via an inclined substantially glazed north facing wall with views into the owner’s large garden. The building structure was fabricated from Kerto laminated veneered lumber and clad in locally sourced green oak. It is heated using waste wood from the garden.


A major reworking and extension of a Georgian house in Portobello, Edinburgh. The conservatory extension is fabricated using mitred steel angle frames which also form the door frames. Between adjoining frames is clamped a steel tee section rafter onto which the glass roof is silicon bonded with a cantilever front edge inspired by the image of a breaking wave. A sliver of Perspex vertically between each angle frame further enhances the transparency of the façade. JKA produced full fabrication drawings for the steelwork elements and designed a bespoke countersunk bolt fixing to ensure the aesthetic criteria were delivered through to the detail. Built in furniture was also designed by JKA including an inside/outside dining table in steel and oak.

The project was published in Homes and Interiors Scotland magazine.


A significant internal reworking and extension of a large Victorian house in Edinburgh to form a new open plan family room incorporating a glazed roofed dining area with sliding folding doors enabling its extension into a sheltered sunny courtyard.


An experiment in computer controlled routing and cutting. The table is made from 5 sheets of birch ply bolted together with threaded steel rod. The differing radii at the ends of the table come from the requirement to avoid waste in cutting the ply – each laminate radius is concentric – see the cutting panel diagram.

Cutting plans and assembly instructions are available for sale.


Bath Street forms Portobello’s most important link between High Street and Promenade. It suffers from too much clutter, congestion and poor connectivity both at the top of the street and at the junction with the promenade where too little space is afforded for the social functions generated by the Espy, the Beachhouse cafe and Miros.

This study envisions a better Bath Street – decluttered, with shared surfaces to promote walking and cycling, and an enlarged public realm at the promenade.


A two bedroom corner mews house in Portobello, Edinburgh. The house is inverted with cellular bedroom accommodation on the ground floor either side of a central stair which gives access to an open plan living/dining/kitchen area on the first floor. A long south facing gallery window with built in seat provides views along the access lane to the mews. The existing sandstone garden wall is incorporated into the ground floor building fabric, with a timber framed first floor.