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A Space to Play + Learn


This project involved an extension to Heughan House which is managed by Auchencairn Initiative on behalf of the community of Auchencairn. The original building opened in 2008 and houses a community shop, a 3 bedroom flat at an affordable rent and a business unit occupied by an early years childcare provider. 

The user of the business unit needed to make improvements in order to continue to provide childcare in the facility. Due to the absence of suitable alternative facilities there was a risk that this vital community service could no longer be provided within the village. 

Opportunities for extending the building were extremely constrained due to a number of existing services in close proximity to the building. Sufficient outdoor play-space also needed to be retained as this is an important aspect of early years childcare. The improved outdoor space is easier for children to access and for staff to supervise. 

The project was also an opportunity to address issues with the design and construction of the original building, including a cantilevering concrete balcony which formed a significant ‘cold bridge’. An ill-considered porch had been added under the balcony since the original construction but this suffered from water ingress due to the lack of a suitable waterproof membrane to the balcony above. The extension proposals addressed this by incorporating the existing balcony within the insulated envelope of the new extension, forming a “warm roof”. The improved balcony has benefitted the rented flat on the upper floor, with new inward opening french doors making the balcony more usable. 

The modest design is deliberately contemporary to contrast against the more traditional language adopted for the existing building. Smooth render resonates with the existing building while Scottish Larch cladding is also used in a playful, random width arrangement which carries through to the fencing around the play area. Metal roofing and cladding was selected to complement the colour of the existing slate roof while being equally durable and robust. 

Achievement of the project’s principal aim was confirmed during a recent inspection of the childcare provider during which the inspectors were impressed by the alterations to the building and the new extension. The project has ensured that a vital service can continue to be provided within the community of Auchencairn. 

“The renovation and extension of our community owned building, Heughan House, was a daunting undertaking. Our choice of Graeme as architect for the project was a decision well made. He guided us throughout the project, establishing clear lines of communication between us, him and the builder. Our project was delivered on time and on budget and we wouldn’t hesitate to work with him on future projects.”

– Dorothy Anderson, Treasurer, and Anne Williams, Chair, Auchencairn Initiative

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