In 2015, we joined forces with Architecture 00. Together, we enjoy collaborating in a shared environment where strategic, urban and social designers, architects, programmers and economists practice design beyond its traditional borders. 00 work with individuals, governments, corporations and communities to solve problems and anticipate change, and to design successful platforms and places. As a studio it aims to reach beyond the design of objects themselves to the social, economic and environmental systems behind them.

Midden Studio

Perched on the edge of Britain, Midden Studio is a surreal atavistic building that reveals its secrets slowly.

The spiky zinc-clad artist’s studio nestles by a stream on the west coast of Scotland. The building sits on top of a Victorian midden wall (formerly the depository for dung from the nearby stables).

The building functions as an artist’s studio and nestles into the coastal landscape – an important component of the brief was to reflect the artist’s lifelong connection to the site and that much of their practice is associated with the place.

Recalling simultaneously the vernacular agricultural buildings nearby, the granite rocks that punctuate the landscape, and the flourish of the ‘Scottish Baronial’ style,

the new studio intends to silently immerse itself in this ancient landscape, only revealing its surreal details on closer inspection.

Details such as the cantilever which apparently floats over the burn, the uncanny twin gables and the echoed stone mouldings.

The studio sits next to Allt ant-Sionnaich, a fast flowing burn.

A ‘soffit light’ allows the artist to peer down through the work surface at the flowing water beneath, and the building is filled with the sound of water all year round, from the Atlantic waves, the burn, the rain, and the drizzle.

The proposal is a simple, north-lit, double pitched volume, the form and materiality of which aimed to

sit calmly among the granite boulders.

The interior is as warm and clean as possible to facilitate the artist’s work.

The building is a happy balancing act between the thick set, wind-braced landscape and a large light-filled studio space.

The interior is reduced to a bare minimum – entirely faced with replaceable birch ply – so once the paint splatters and burn marks get too much the surface can be changed like wall paper.

Midden Studio is the lovechild of native granite and the local buildings. Half a fancy creature with mouldings and gables; half hard, freckled and elemental. The granite rock surrounding the studio is echoed in the rusticated zinc.

The rusticated diamond cladding pattern derives from Palazzo dei Diamanti, Ferrara, or Chiesa del Gesu Nuova, Naples, but as at Crichton Castle in Midlothian, it is a dour version of its southern counterparts.

Structurally the studio has been designed to withstand the extreme conditions of the site, and the raw zinc will age with dignity, becoming well-tuned with the landscape over time.

For this project the team has developed an original embossed standing seam zinc system in collaboration with VM Zinc. It is a system that VM hope to expand to become part of their commercial range.

The Child of the Place

The Midden is weighed steady yet twists eccentrically; its every exhale confirms a steady goodness but on each breath inward eddies of extraordinary tumble tumultuously. Perhaps this tension stems from an unconventional parentage.

The Midden Studio is the joyful lovechild of a local vernacular building and a dour granite monolith neighbour.

The studio’s characteristics reflect both parents and neither, since it is wholly unique. From the start the Midden was ambivalent. From afar it appeared well in keeping with its mother and her family of local buildings: the eaves of its grandmother, the dimples of an uncle. However, on closer inspection those dimples tugged in a skin at once so dull and so iridescent, it could only have been inherited from its paternal rock; its skin patterning was an obvious atavism from a Neapolitan great-grandfather.

Happily both parents loved their strange child and it grew up clever and strong, if saturated with incongruences.

Its father and his granite family raised it according to the tenets of water. It learned to abide the beat of the burn and to relish the sting of the salty spray. The Midden Studio embraced the fine mists, the relentless drizzle and the driving tempests. It learned about its origins deep underground where its forebears were formed through near unbearable pressures and how it is always connected to the far and the wide and the lost.

Its mother always looked over it and through it, and spoke softly to the Midden Studio about the sun and moon. It learned to bring celestial light inside – something rocks rarely show proficiency in – and to learn by baring its mind to cold, kindly moonlight.

Its ambiguous upbringing means the Studio contains some of the spirit of farming pragmatics, Scottish Baronial flourish and inscrutable granite monoliths. Sometimes appearing unfriendly, once you have got past the harsh exterior the Studio is warm and welcoming, and at night while talking to its beloved whiskey coloured stream, everywhere around it is engulfed with its deep sonorous tones – made to sound all the more melodious by the lapping waves down at the shore.