Fern Cottage

Nestled in the ancient woodlands of Abernethy Forest is Fern Cottage, a striking family home that blends together stone and timber, traditional and modern.

About this project

Designed by WT Architecture and built by Colin Lawson Builders, Fern Cottage was a finalist in the Saltire Society Housing Design Awards 2018. The brief  was to revitalise a tired and neglected Victorian cottage in the Cairngorm National Park. It called for a practical and comfortable family home which retained a strong connection with the external landscape. WT Architecture’s design incorporates most of the living spaces in a modern, open plan extension, and the company selected timber cladding to soften the visual impact.

Views across the garden to the woodland in the south-east had previously been entirely obscured by an existing two-storey extension. The architects proposed the demolition of this obstructive and impractical building wing, to replace it with a new light-filled extension containing living, kitchen and dining spaces which had previously been buried in the dark centre of the existing building. An origami-like zinc roof, pitched and folded in multiple directions, wraps itself around the corner of the existing cottage cable, rising and falling to mirror level changes and help differentiate internal spaces. The wider project includes the replacement of a dilapidated shed with a new garage and workshop building. The project was completed in October 2017.

Use of Timber

The design intention was to make the contemporary architectural interventions feel light, crafted and delicate. The cladding detail of open timber battens was designed to reduce the apparent mass of the building’s solid wall areas. It was vital that the narrow timber cladding was of a consistent size, finish and quality for the intricate detailing to be successful. Siberian Larch was chosen as a natural material to complement the forest’s pine, fir and birch trees. Inside, Engineered Oak flooring adds cosiness and warmth to the otherwise contemporary open plan space. The result is a beautiful family home that sits comfortably in its woodland habitat.

Further information

Russwood - case study detail

Images: Dapple Photography

Key contacts


WT Architecture 

Main Contractor

Colin Lawson Builders

Timber Supplier

Russwood (cladding, flooring)

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