Research Behind a Modern Scottish Country Estate

Hah, I fooled you by the title. I’m only an undergrad student as of right now, so I’m not truly building anything, but I am trying to formulate a design for my next studio project.

Of course this is probably something that shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes for most of the students in my class, but I’m a weirdo, and I LOVE this kind of stuff. I could spend hours upon hours just researching for my silly Minecraft models and drawings, and this isn’t exempt from my curiosities.


The project I am researching for today is a mock-residential building project. We are to choose a site, formulate our own clients and their imaginary needs, and eventually, we’ll be making models of this house on a 3-D topographic map using foam core.

Big mistake, professor.

This project gives me WAY too much freedom, so naturally, my mind dove straight into all the possibilities. Where is a unique place I love? Well Scotland of course. I traveled there last summer with my mom for my senior trip, and toured the country with a Rick Steeves tour group (10/10, would recommend). Ever since then, I’ve dreamt of going back. Now my client? Hmm. In order to quench my thirst for large-scale luxury building, I chose an imaginary couple that are involved in Scottish politics, and are descendants of the Lairds of the Fraser clan. They remarkably reflect James and Claire Fraser from The Outlander… Heh.

I had way too much fun with dreaming up their story. They are looking into building a country castle-esque home in the Highlands to retreat to for the holidays, and to entertain guests.

Their home is meant to reflect as much Scottish heritage as possible, thus reflecting that of an old Scottish castle. It will need a master bedroom, and at least two guestrooms with their own baths. There must be at least one large room for gathering people for parties, meetings, or discussing the rise of a new Jacobite revolution- er. I mean for hosting charity events. Right. Anyway, this will be a place for lots of recreation, so this isn’t necessarily a super high-functioning house. It’s goin’ be pretty.


SO. Now that I have that information under my belt, I had to find a real place and print out topographic maps of my destination for presentation and planning. I chose a little site just out of Aviemore, Scotland. It’s just as cute as can be, off the banks of Loch Puladdern, right next to the rolling hills of the Highlands.


Surprisingly, it is extraordinarily difficult to find functioning global topographic maps, so after about an hour, I found this from the British Ordinances.

I originally looked into a site off of Kenmore, but for whatever reason, I changed my mind to a big town like Aviemore. Well, big in comparison.


As for the actual design, this is where I get extra giddy.


Firstly, I am looking backwards to get an idea of the structure and form of a historic Scottish castle. I promptly pulled up Google and searched my heart out for various estates, castles, and mansions.

Here are some of my top picks among my findings:

Image result for scottish castles

The traditional dark and defensive castle isolating itself on an island in the middle of a Loch. Not horribly detailed, nor is it too attractive, but very functional.

The castle stands in 140 hectares of beautiful farmland

This was a sweet treat! I found the Castle Fraser! How authentic! Its quaint size and open yard makes it very welcoming and homey for a castle. I find this exceptionally neat.

Also, it’s right by a lake. I suppose the hydrophillic gene runs in the family…

Image result for edinburgh castle

And of course Edinburgh castle. One of my favorite cities ever. Exceptionally beautiful, not as typical as the other castles, but the location is both highly functional in defense, and quiet aesthetically pleasing. It rests on top of Castle Rock, which is a remarkably high craig and tail, which serves to block out enemy invaders, and elevate the royal people so they may watch over their subjects, as well as the incoming ships in the distant loch.


From that research, I can conclude that most Scottish castles are relatively blunt, very monumental, and generally seem to consist of small towns enclosed in large rock walls with a few towers emerging from those walls.

From this, I am envisioning a large, stately entry way, possibly with a large circular driveway surrounding the loch (much alike that of Downton Abbey). I like the idea of this medieval stonework look, but I’m not sure how that’s going to fit in with a modern/contemporary style. My professor suggested bringing up some of the naturally lying highland stones through the floors like Frank Lloyd Wright did in some of his works. I like this idea, but I want to see if I can naturally weave it into the design of the house, rather than forcing it somewhere it shouldn’t fit.

This isn’t yet enough to go off of for a full design. I need to see some more recent architecture now, so next, I need to hunt for hybrid modern-castle homes if those even exist. Here’s my next top findings:


Image result for contemporary castles

A lovely house that somehow gives me a Wright-vibe. Perhaps it’s the placement of windows. I mainly like this because of the landscaping. We’re doing a very landscape-oriented project, and the use of a historic-accented stone wall building a flat plot for the house to rest on doesn’t sound bad. It wouldn’t be much of a challenge, but it’s a thought.

Image result for modern castles

This is absolutely adorable to me. It’s like a baby castle. So compact! Probably not the best inspiration for the house, but I do like the stateliness on a small space.

Image result for modern castles

The mixture of materials, and the new style using old stones makes this appealing to me. Stylish and trendy, yet rustic and classical.

Image result for mackintosh scotland architect

Charles Rennie Mackintosh was also recommended to me by my professor. He had the same idea the “Fraser family” has. I see historic form and features, newer materials, more functional shapes, and windows. LOTS AND LOTS of windows. Somehow, they seem to make the building seem ‘younger’ instantly. Very nice, Mackintosh.


Alright, so this broadens my spectrum quite a bit. I’m thinking stone brick, lots of glass, possibly nice sleek modern “bricks” reflecting lots of sliding planes to make it feel luxurious, but I’ll throw in some nice tower-like structures to give it that historic accent, with many traditional Scottish roof shapes.

Naturally, this is going to change, and may or may not be completely redone in a matter of days, if not hours. Don’t bank on any of this becoming my final project.

But hey, I have some research done. I’ll look back on these pictures, and the myriad posts I have just added to my Pinterest board, and of course, more research, and I’ll start my sketches next week!


As for right now, I have to go back to reality, and finish a wee presentation on my area, the topography, and the culture of Aviemore.

Bye for noo!







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