Arbor House Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire home, Scottish Highlands residence, Northeast Scotland modern property images

The Arbor House in Aberdeen

3 June 2023

Design: Brown & Brown Architects

Location: Aberdeen, Northeast Scotland

The Arbor House Aberdeen Scotland

Photos © Jim Stephenson

The Arbor House, Scotland

Brown & Brown has completed a new low energy home in a conservation area of Aberdeen, Scotland, turning an open plot into a private, leafy retreat that foregrounds craftsmanship and design.

The Arbor House Aberdeen

Designed for a mature couple relocating from a rural village into suburban Aberdeen, The Arbor House is a contemporary, cantilevered home organised over two floors with slim Larch batten cladding punctuated by expansive glazing. It is nestled in a gentle dip on the northern corner of the site to capture and harness southern sunlight, masking the homes’ volume below the busy sloping road it neighbours. The Arbor House has been delivered by Brown & Brown in partnership with specialist contractor, Coldwells Build and craft workshop, Angus & Mack.

The Arbor House Aberdeenshire Scotland

The Arbor House replaces a dilapidated stone steading that extended the length of the tree-lined plot. Most of the cottage was carefully deconstructed and the masonry reused to craft a low, sweeping boundary wall at street level, while one wall of the stone cottage is left in situ to form a modern colonnade lit by original window openings.

The Arbor House Aberdeenshire The Arbor House Aberdeenshire Scotland

Brown & Brown arranged these layers of salvaged masonry to balance the client’s desire for privacy and maintain the property’s original connection to the streetscape. The cloistered entry offers a ‘mental airlock’, marking a clear separation between the busy road and enclosed gardens and home.

The Arbor House Aberdeenshire

Inside, The Arbor House follows a logical floor plan designed to adapt for independent living later in life if required. A custom fumed oak pivot door leads into a wide hallway, where occupants are drawn through the house by uninterrupted views to the gardens past a utility room, bathroom, and office, before arriving in a double height glazed atrium. This central dining space is lit by an entire wall of glazing, bringing the surrounding trees into the home.

The Arbor House Aberdeen Scotland

Despite the wall of nature overlooking the airy space, a sculptural Birch plywood spiral staircase draws focus in the atrium. Designed by Brown & Brown in collaboration with local craftsman Angus & Mack, the stair was assembled over three weeks as timber treads were individually cut and hand layered to form a smooth, sinuous parabolic curve.

The remainder of the ground floor is dedicated to cooking and hosting, where a custom chef’s kitchen marks the fulcrum point of the house. A wall of joinery clad in textural slate panels conceals a back of house kitchen with floor to ceiling storage. The sleek DK&I kitchen island features a microcement counter that cantilevers out from a blackened ceramic base, reaching toward a wall of floor to ceiling glazing.

The Arbor House Aberdeen Scotland

Extending into the garden to flank the internal courtyard, the lounge is given over to end-to-end, floor-to-ceiling glazing to drink in the greenery outside. A timber board marked concrete fireplace anchors the lightweight space, balancing the airy interior with a sense of solidity.

The second floor of The Arbor House hosts the sleeping quarters. The main bedroom with corner glazed bathroom sits at the eastern end of the plan, while a second and third bedroom and adjoining jack and jill bathroom designed for the couples’ grown up children sit at the western side. The volumes of the first floor, colonnade and garage are broken up by sedum roof, which blend the rooftops with the surrounding treelines and assist with drainage.

The Arbor House Aberdeen Scotland The Arbor House Aberdeen Scotland

In line with the studio’s approach to sustainability, Brown & Brown designed The Arbor House to capitalise on natural materials, heating and ventilation to reduce the operational costs and carbon. The large expanses of glazing draw in and store warm sunlight in the thermal mass, and open to passively cool the house in the summer months. A ground source heat pump maintains a toasty indoor temperature in the Winter, supported by the heavily insulated structure which has been sealed for airtightness. Air circulates with the help of a mechanical ventilation heat recovery system, resulting in a very low energy in use rating overall.

The Arbor House Aberdeen

Conscious of the scale of The Arbor House and careful to balance any heaviness, Brown & Brown has displayed a unique approach to crafting architecture that respects its place through use of a restrained palette of salvaged, local, and natural materials. Slender Larch battens have been used internally as well as externally to create a consistent language throughout, and will silver over time, naturally blending with the stonework. A hard wearing yet smooth microcement floor balances the textures of the plywood and slate joinery, offering a calm, clean interior, which the mature trees beyond the glazed elevations enhance as the seasons change.

The Arbor House is a confident and resolved home for discerning clients, an exemplar for the quality of home that can be achieved by a dedicated client, architect, and contractor partnership.

The Arbor House Aberdeenshire The Arbor House Aberdeenshire

Andrew Brown, Director, Brown & Brown says:
‘The Arbor House is a modern home in harmony with its surroundings. We worked with the natural topography of the site to create a secret retreat, tucking the volume of the home in deeper points of the plot to reduce its presence on the street. The original window apertures from the old cottage offer small glimpses into the cloister and courtyard, adding layers and intrigue to the home.’

The Arbor House Aberdeen

Russel Davies & Wendy Wilkie, clients say:
‘Brown & Brown have delivered a house which takes our breath away every day, and we realise what a wonderful place this is to live. Living in the countryside, you get accustomed to a level of privacy and tranquillity that this house affords us in an urban setting. The house allows us to enjoy the lifestyle we’ve long wanted; space to host, easy access to the city, and plenty of green space.

The Arbor House Aberdeenshire

The Arbor House in Aberdeen, Scotland – Building Information

Design: Brown & Brown Architects –

Location: Aberdeen, Scotland, UK
Start on site: February 2019
Completion date: July 2022
Internal floor area: 273.5 sqm
External floor area
Terraces: 174 sqm
Garage & store: 70 sqm
Construction cost: ~£3.5k per sqm

The Arbor House Aberdeen

Design team: Andrew Brown, Phil Booth
Clients: Russel Davies & Wendy Wilkie
Engineer: Design Engineering Workshop
Contractor: Coldwells Build
Joiner: Angus+Mack
Embodied carbon: 376.4 kg CO2 eq/sqm
CO2 emissions: 12.23 kg CO2 yr/sqm annually

Key Products
Flooring: Concreto & Woodpecker
Kitchen: DK&I
Larch: Russwood
Sanitaryware: Kast Concrete, Aquabella, Geberit
Tapware: Vado

The Arbor House Aberdeen

About Brown & Brown
Brown & Brown is a multiple award-winning, modern architecture studio based in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, with a smaller base in Inverness. We are a design-led practice which helps people build contemporary homes that connect to themselves, to others and to their surroundings. Although our roots are in the heart of Scotland, we work across the UK.

We design buildings for some of the toughest rural environments where climate, site access and materials must all be carefully considered. We also have experience working in urban locations, which can of course bring their own unique challenges.

The Arbor House Aberdeenshire Scotland

Photographs © Jim Stephenson

The Arbor House, Aberdeen, Scotland images / information received 030623 from Brown & Brown Architects

Location: Aberdeen, Northeast Scotland

Scottish Architecture

Spyon Cop, Cairngorms National Park, Northeast Scotland
Architects: Brown + Brown
Spyon Cop in the Cairngorms National Park
image : Touch 3D
Contemporary Property in Cairngorms National Park

Northeast Scotland Properties – selection:

Quarry Studios, Upper Deeside
Design: Moxon architects
Quarry Studios
image courtesy of architects
Quarry Studios Upper Deeside by architects Moxon

Cairngorms National Park Authority’s HQ, Grantown-on-Spey, Moray, Northern Scotland
Design: Moxon architects
Cairngorms National Park Authoritys Headquarters
image courtesy of architects studio
Cairngorms National Park Authority HQ Building

New Buildings in Scotland

An Turas Tiree
Design: Sutherland Hussey Architects
Isle of Tiree Building – Stirling Prize Shortlisted

House no 7, Isle of Tiree, Denizen Works
Design: Denizen Works, Architects

Scottish Architecture

Scottish Architect – design firms listing on e-architect

Comments / photos for the The Arbor House, AberdeenshireContemporary Property in north east Scotland design by Brown & Brown Architects page welcome