North Ayrshire “building within a ruin” becomes first one-off house to win Doolan Prize
Ann Nisbet Studio’s transformation of a ruined agricultural building in North Ayrshire has been named building of the year by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland.
Cuddymoss is the first one-off house to win the RIAS Doolan Award in the 21-year history of the event. In addition to the accolade, Nisbet will receive a £10,000 cash prize.
The practice pipped a shortlist that included Denizen Works, Page\Park Architects and Flanagan Lawrence to secure the award.
Described as a “building within a ruin”, Cuddymoss sought to retain as much as possible of the remains of the original 200-year-old structure – which housed both people and cattle, acknowledging its connections with the landscape and those who worked the land.
The intervention within the ruin sits back from the existing stone structure, creating deep reveals in the original openings and making it difficult to discern on arrival that anything but the ruin is actually there.
An old window ledge in the ruin has been left untouched to invite owls in to roost at night. Inside, windows have been carefully positioned to make it feel as if the Ayrshire landscape is entering the building.
A new extension also sits alongside the ruin, matching its form and clad in silver-toned timber cladding.
Award judges praised the way the simplicity of the building concept had been realised with “clarity, care and playfulness” by Ann Nisbet Studio.
They were also impressed by the project’s deep respect for the lifespan of the ruin: few alterations have been made, so the new-build elements can be removed and the ruin reused by future generations.
RIAS president Chris Stewart said much of Scotland’s best architecture could be found in one-off homes, meaning it was “long overdue” for a newly-designed house to be the recipient of the Doolan Prize.
“Cuddymoss is an outstanding winner – combining Ann Nisbet Studio’s clear concept and design rigour with the client’s deep sense of responsibility to the building and its surrounding landscape,” he said.
“The result is a beautiful building that works extremely well as a home, and is deeply respectful of the original building’s character, heritage and setting.”
The jury for this year’s award was chaired by RSHP senior partner Tracy Meller, and also included Stewart and journalist Ellie Stathaki.
Main contractor for Cuddymoss was Lawrie Construction; structural engineer was AH Structural Solutions; energy consultant was Arun Energy.
The Doolan Prize was founded by architect and entrepreneur Andrew Doolan with the RIAS in 2002 and has been supported by his family since his death two years later.