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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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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!

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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Renewable energies CPD

Earlier this month I organised a CPD to unravel the complexities – claims and counterclaims – around the renewable energy sector. Several independent experts gave their views on how to sort through the issues and provided us with much food for thought. Thank you to all who contributed to an enlightening afternoon.

100 Sustainable Scottish Buildings

I recently attended the book launch of “100 Sustainable Scottish Buildings” by SEDA (Scottish Ecological Design Association). I strongly recommend it to everyone. As Robin Harper (SEDA’s patron) said “It is a celebration of new ideas, of ingenuity, imagination, philosophy and art, a tribute to creativity, joyfulness, human scale design, an expression of our dedication …

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Tree columns bring wildlife into nursery

Tree columns bring wildlife into nursery

Horntails, or wood wasps, have made their nests in the internal oak trees supporting the roof of Halvorsen Architects’ recently completed Happy Days nursery extension, along with several other species of insect! Rather than be alarmed at their new, uninvited guests, the creative and environmentally-friendly nursery has embraced the chance to study wildlife indoors and set their under fives a …

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Beauty and elegance

At last a skyscraper that is not yet another phallic symbol.  Herzog & de Meuron, architects of Tate Modern, have designed Beirut Terraces, a residential tower in the Lebanese capital. This beautifully elegant building is made of staggered floor plates with large overhangs breaking the relentless pursuit for the sleekest vertical tower. How refreshing to have a tower …

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Woodland nursery

Planning permission has now been granted for a new nursery building that we have designed for Happy Days, in Eskbank, Midlothian. Midlothian Council planners refused to give consent last December, but the Local Review Body (comprised of Midlothian councillors) overturned their decision earlier this week. Happy Days moved in to Hardengreen House – a large …

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Newbyres castle conservation

Despite the bitter cold over 20 volunteers and archaeologists turned up this week to spend a day clearing vegetation around the little-known ruin of Newbryres castle in Gorebridge town centre. Newbryres castle was ‘adopted’ by the Adopt-a-Monument Scheme run by Archaeology Scotland last Summer. Last week saw the first community volunteering day, led by myself …

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Sick buildings

I organised an afternoon of CPD talks last week entitled ‘Breathability and low energy retrofit’. The session, organised for ECAN and a joint event with CIBSE, was held at the RIAS, in Rutland Square Edinburgh  and attended by about 30 architects, engineers and academics. It turned out to be a thought-provoking afternoon with some excellent speakers (see …

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Branched tree posts – first in Scotland?

Last week I spent another glorious day surveying trees in woodland near Abbey St. Bathans in the Scottish Borders. These are to be used as posts and beams in two new buildings that I am designing for Happy Days, a nursery in Dalkeith. But we’re not just looking for any old posts and beams – we’re …

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New build at Eco-Nursery using natural materials

Halvorsen Architects was recently granted planning permission to enlarge Happy Days nursery near Edinburgh, for a design that reinforces the pre-school facility’s green ethos. The client, Genesis, which owns and operates several nurseries across Scotland’s central belt, chose Halvorsen Architects after seeing our timber building projects with local primary schools. Genesis promotes a healthy lifestyle …

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Hempcrete – a natural building material

Marijuana may be great for getting high, but the architectural value of cannabis is in the industrial hemp that forms a vital ingredient of products including hempcrete. Hempcrete is low-tech natural building material made from the chopped stalk of the hemp plant and a lime-based binder. It is carbon-negative in that it absorbs carbon dioxide …

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Marco Biagi visits trust

Marco Biagi MSP, minister for local government and community empowerment, visited Gorebridge Community Development Trust in August. It was a valuable meeting and gave us the opportunity to quiz him about the Scottish government’s Community Empowerment Bill and also to share some of our frustrations regarding our new community hub. We explained the problems we have had …

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