Scottish farmers inspire the next generation through sustainable practices at Three Glens
Designed by Mark Waghorn Architects, Three Glens is a 450 sq m 5-bedroom farmhouse situated on a working farm near the village of Moniaive, South West Scotland. Its owners, Mary and Neil Gourlay, are the third generation of the Gourlay family farming in the Cairn Valley.
Together with Mark Waghorn Architects, the Gourlays dreamed of creating not just a building but a place in which to encourage, teach and inspire others to adopt a sustainable approach to energy, business and life. “I’ve always had the ambition to build a house. We just thought that if we were going to do something, we should make it interesting, different and as environmentally friendly as possible,” said Neil Gourlay.
Mark Waghorn’s vision was one of an organic building that blended seamlessly into the landscape. The natural forms and materials of the southern slopes of the Cairn Valley inspired him. Waghorn explains: “On my first visit it was immediately apparent to me where the house should be positioned. The copse of trees and outcrop of rocks were a natural frame for the building, with the existing external dry stonewalls connecting the house to the wider landscape and rooting it to the site.”
“I regard myself as a custodian of the countryside. I want what I leave behind to be more, and in better condition, than what I took on,” said Neil Gourlay. This philosophy has been the driving force during the building of Three Glens with the incorporation of as many local materials as possible, many of them found directly on the farm.
These include oak for the exterior cladding; stone from neighbouring fields for a dry-stone wall that passes right through the interior of the house; turf for the roof, also taken straight from a neighbouring field; and the farm’s own treated sheep’s wool for insulation.
The interiors have been tastefully 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, a story that makes every corner in this house unique.
Mark Waghorn paid close attention to how energy was going to be used around the home and this led him to conceive a design that takes full advantage of the natural conditions. The expansive glass walls capture and distribute all the available daylight around the house but especially in the living room, kitchen and dining area. Clothes will be dried quickly by the sun in a ventilated glazed area linked to the laundry, while a food store will take advantage of cool nights to keep food fresh throughout the day.
With a total capacity to sleep 10 people, Three Glens will accommodate a member of staff and will also take paying guests. 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.