The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition)

Couple breathing new life into old farm buildings

Couple building a success through shared love of agricultur­e and design

- PhiliPPa Merry

Scotland’s countrysid­e is certainly not lacking in beautiful old agricultur­al buildings crying out for rejuvenati­on.

But, with the right vision, old steadings or dilapidate­d outbuildin­gs – once at the heart of a farm business – can still hold considerab­le scope for future transforma­tion, particular­ly as diversific­ation projects or even new family homes.

Unlocking these doors and bringing this vision to reality are Ben and Rosemary Scrimgeour, who run architectu­re practice and Courier Business Awards rural category finalist the Building Workshop from the Angus Glens.

“We both grew up on mixed farms and we have always wanted to work in the countrysid­e,” said Ben.

“My grandmothe­r was an architect and inspired me as a child. What we are doing now gives me the best of both worlds – my two passions, design and agricultur­e – we like to call it agritectur­e.

“We’re thriving in a job that gives us unparallel­ed access to the countrysid­e, breathing life into older agricultur­al buildings and engaging with farmers, all whilst doing a job we truly love.”

Rosemary studied business and languages at Bath University and has recently completed Scottish Enterprise’s Rural Leadership Programme.

Her interest in rural business and her vision for rural diversific­ation has inspired the way the practice has been set up and developed.

Combining their creative and practical abilities, they first made waves within Scotland’s architectu­ral sphere when Ben became the UK’s first ‘self-taught’ chartered architect.

His trailblazi­ng move paved the way for the formal recognitio­n of experience gained during personal practice, beyond education.

Ben’s journey saw him graduate from Dundee University with an MArch in 2008, before completing his placement year in the heart of London at Foster & Partners – famed for its progressiv­e architectu­ral work on projects such as the iconic Gherkin.

But the pull of home and the rural lifestyle brought Ben and Rosemary back to Angus and ultimately they launched their design firm in 2009, with the support of the Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust and mentoring from a local chartered architect.

As natives of rural Angus, the couple have gone full circle, spreading their wings from farms as far afield as Europe and South America before settling on their own segment of land on the southern banks of the Loch of Lintrathen.

Here they built their home and ‘shop window’ – Humpty House – for their business the Building Workshop, marrying family living with light and functional working space, bringing the outdoors indoors in the most spectacula­r fashion.

The couple offer a unique ‘tea and

cake’ approach to each of their many individual design projects, with the aim of making it as simple and straightfo­rward as possible for clients to visualise exactly how buildings, old or new, can be metamorpho­sised.

If the Scrimgeour­s’ business had a motto, it would undoubtedl­y resound simplicity.

“We’ve had to learn how to procure a building from scratch, so we understand how complex it can all seem to clients,” said Ben, who utilises the latest of graphic technologi­es to bring sketches and plans to life in 3D on his computer screen and whose workspace brims with a plethora of clean- cut, small-scale models of projects currently under way.

“The way we communicat­e with our clients is so important,” Rosemary added.

“But we’re just so passionate about architectu­re; we love design and I think people can really appreciate that.”

Although the duo have completed projects further afield – including in France and London – the vast majority of their current designs and builds can be found in rural Scotland, particular­ly Perthshire and Angus, where they take the utmost of pride in rescuing old farm edifices and houses both commercial and family purposes.

They count Guardswell Farm, Burmieston Farm, Peel Farm Steadings and the Granary at Incheoch as just four agricultur­al diversific­ation projects in which they have played a large hand.

Each of these conversion­s has sympatheti­cally retained the beauty and the agricultur­al character of the farm buildings, while adapting them to serve a new purpose for a more modern lifestyle.

“Perhaps it is because we both grew up on farms, but we really understand how attached and nostalgic people can feel when it comes to old farm buildings,” said Rosemary.

“They provide a tangible link to the past and to the generation­s of farmers they were so important to in years gone by.”

Ben said: “It is rare that we are asked to flatten old steadings and start again.

“So, much of our work involves an element of restoratio­n, saving and re-purposing buildings and we love that.

“We have a very hands-on approach,” he added.

“From the first chat and sketch to the last light bulb, we like to appreciate how a building will be used so that we can ensure the interior layout works and flows exactly as it should do best.

“Good buildings come from a good brief, but our method also allows buildings to be designed and function efficientl­y around their landscape – guaranteei­ng them a good long lifespan.

“There’s nothing better than bringing new light and new life into a farm, or farmhouse again.”

In launching the business, Ben and Rosemary have overcome many a hurdle, not least Ben’s dyslexia, but with an exquisite, high-quality portfolio and full order book, the partnershi­p is clearly on the right track.

 ?? Pictures: Paul Reid. ?? Rosemary and Ben Scrimgeour launched the Building Workshop in 2009. They work from the home they modelled and designed – Humpty House – on the southern banks of the Loch of Lintrathen, below.
Pictures: Paul Reid. Rosemary and Ben Scrimgeour launched the Building Workshop in 2009. They work from the home they modelled and designed – Humpty House – on the southern banks of the Loch of Lintrathen, below.
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 ?? Pictures: Kris Miller. ?? Guardswell Farm is just one farm diversific­ation project in which the Building Workshop has played a large hand.
Pictures: Kris Miller. Guardswell Farm is just one farm diversific­ation project in which the Building Workshop has played a large hand.
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