Gail Halvorsen

Wooden Roof

I was entranced by this simple but elegant roof from London-based Tsuruta Architects. Responding to a north facing and sunken site the architect has designed an exquisite timber dia-grid roof whose shadows dance around the modest extension. Using traditional timber connections for the thin Accoya beams the architect has avoided the need for any glued or …

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Planning approved for metal-clad nursery

Planning permission has been approved for a new building at Happy Days nursery Hardengreen branch in Midlothian. It is located in mature woodland and is a playful take on a timber cabin. It is raised off the ground, on piles so as not to disturb the tree roots, with a south-facing deck. The north facing …

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Launch of SEDA Land Conversations report

SEDA’s Report ‘A New Vision for Land Use in Scotland: 6 Conversations’ was released on Monday. It summarises the key themes that emerged in the highly successful events of the same name, held by SEDA in March and April, where 42 of the best informed people from all sectors of land use discussed the challenges …

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Studio and remodelling house and garden, The Grange, Edinburgh

client  private engineers  CRA Ltd. contract value  £160,000 area new build 95 sq. m.; total remodelled area  450 sq. m. The client had outgrown their semi-detached Georgian bungalow in the heart of the Grange Conservation Area in Edinburgh. They needed new detached accommodation and remodelling of the existing house, front and back gardens. A 67m2 self-contained …

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A New Vision for Land Use in Scotland: 6 Conversations

With one of my other hats on I am an events organiser for The Scottish Ecological Design Association (SEDA). Since SEDA members are predominantly architects most of our events are building related. More recently I decided to put more emphasis on non-architectural events. Next week A New Vision for Land Use in Scotland: 6 Conversations …

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Respond, Recovery and Resilience – Gorebridge Beacon

The new community centre in Gorebridge – The Beacon – came into its own during lockdown. While central and local governments struggled to respond quickly to the pandemic, The Beacon and its committed staff rose to the challenge, helping locals cope to the crisis within a couple of weeks. It was the only place you …

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Strange times

Covid-19 update As the coronavirus outbreak continues, Halvorsen Architects’ thoughts are with our customers and friends at this challenging time. We recognise that you have many priorities, but we want you to know that we are still operating. The safety and well-being of our community is our highest priority right now and we are closely following …

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Grange House Transformed

Halvorsen Architects have just finished major works to a house in the Grange, a conservation area on Edinburgh’s south side which was first developed as an early suburb from the 1820s.  The clients were keen to expand their Georgian villa in as sustainable as possible. We considered several measures, including renewable heating, insulation and airtightness. With …

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Fast Fashion – The way forward

Last night I helped organise a Scottish Ecological Design Association (SEDA) event about the harmful effects of the fast fashion industry. Held in the David Hume Tower, George Square, Edinburgh, the event was well-attended by both students and people involved in retail and textiles industries. The 3 hour session was loosely based around the ground-breaking …

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The Beacon opening

Last week Gorebridge Community Development Trust held a party to celebrate the opening of the Gorebridge Beacon, our new community centre, earlier this year. Trust members and staff, funders and nearly all the design team came and celebrated the fantastic (award-winning) building. Since it opened over 5,000 people have walked through the doors, all the …

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Sun trap in Dunbar

Halvorsen Architects recently finished an extension to and remodelling of a 1970s house in Dunbar, East Lothian. A sun room, at the heart of the house, links the principal rooms and, with the removal of a wall, creates a large open plan kitchen-dining room. Light floods in through the wall-to-wall South-facing glazing, high-level East-facing clerestory …

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Wild strawberries on roof

Last month I visited Shepherd House, Inveresk, where I have carried out several small projects and was delighted to see wild strawberries growing on the green roof of the potting shed designed by Halvorsen Architects. The roof was planted with ferns originally and over the years wildflowers have self-seeded there, but this is the first …

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SEDA conference 2019

A group of ecologically-minded people gathered in Forres to visit a collection of inspiring sustainable enterprises, hear some stimulating talks and exchange green ideas. Having spent the previous couple of months organising SEDA’s (Scottish Ecological Design Association) annual conference, it was underway at last. For me the highlight was the trip to Makar Ltd. – …

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Pizza oven

The children of Happy Days nursery, Dalkeith, wait with anticipation while they watch their handmade pizzas cook in their new pizza oven. The oven arrived with mesh around the insulation which we rendered and decorated with mosaic tiles. Not an empty plate to be seen!

House extension Leith

House Extension, Leith, Edinburgh

client  private engineers  CRA Ltd. contract value  £57,000 area  35 sq. m. An extension to a Victorian house in Leith, Edinburgh, this project was designed to maximise the light coming in from the client’s south-facing garden. It is a large, single room for sitting, dining and showing films. The new multi-purpose room is pulled away to …

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New playground, Eskbank, Midlothian

New playground, Eskbank, Midlothian

client Genesis (J&T) Ltd (Trading as Happy Days Nurseries) Happy Days acquired a new nursery in Eskbank, Midlothian, a year ago and asked Halvorsen Architects to design an imaginative and original new playground for it using natural materials. Halvorsen Architects were delighted to be able to put their ideas about play and risk-taking into practice. The natural forms of the …

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New pre-school nursery

New pre-school nursery, Haddington, East Lothian

client Genesis (J&T) Ltd (Trading as Happy Days Nurseries) This is our proposal for a nursery school on the outskirts of Haddington, East Lothian. It is located in the large, mature garden of a private house. The house was to be remodelled to house the 0-2 year olds and a new timber building proposed in …

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The benefits of risk in the playground

For children to learn, it is essential that they take some risks and this is something pupils at Happy Days nursery, Eskbank are now able to do thanks to the new Halvorsen Architects-designed play area at the site. The playground was completed in June and the children are clambering excitedly all over the trees and …

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New classroom

Pre-school pupils recently moved into their new brand classroom at Happy Days nursery, Hardengreen, near Dalkeith. The client wanted an extension to its existing nursery, which could be quickly constructed in order to help alleviate a growing waiting list. Halvorsen Architects response was to deliver a simple, timber-framed structure that is clad in Scottish larch. …

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Woodland Nursery

Woodland Nursery, Eskbank, Midlothian

client  Genesis (J&T) Ltd (Trading as Happy Days Nurseries) engineers  CRA Ltd. area  130 sq. m. Happy Days moved in to Hardengreen House, Eskbank, Midlothian – a large Georgian house originally built in 1796 – a couple of years ago but have outgrown the premises. The house has extensive grounds, with fields in front and woodland …

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Prototype hut?

Two years on from the launch of Reforesting Scotland’s Thousand Huts campaign‘s ‘New hutting developments’ and not a lot has been built, but woodland sites at Carnock and Falkirk are attracting a lot of interest. Most of the hut designs built to date follow a fairly boxy design, probably to maximise the small permissible floor area, but I …

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Newbyres Castle – Recording the archaeology

Last Wednesday I organised the latest community workshop at Newbyres castle – a 16th century ruin in the heart of Gorebridge. The day was lead by Piers Dixon, an archaeologist from Historic Environment Scotland, who was ably helped by two colleagues – Eva Boyle and Adam Welfare. The day started with a tour of the …

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