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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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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!

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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