Posted on Jun 18, 2020 by bta

Here is our good friend, David Sim, proudly holding up the Danish translation of his fabulous book SOFT CITY. If a picture is worth a 1000 words then perhaps a drawing is worth a 1000 pictures.  With hundreds of beautiful drawings, by David, Creative Director of Gehl People in Copenhagen, this book is priceless! This is a book that will transform settlements large and small throughout the world.

(Blød in Danish means soft or sensitive. By means 'town', as in so many place names, of Scandinavian origin.  'Bye-laws', or by-lags' in Danish, similarly mean 'town laws'. The self-regulation settlements is an historic and fundamental part of a their success.)


Posted on Apr 23, 2020 by bta

The Keystone Academy, an international school in Beijing, has wonderful bronze dragons sculpted by Ben’s wife Jill Watson on the doors of its Library made by Luke Hughes. Although dragons, we are sure, have anti-virus powers themselves, bronze is anti-microbial due to the high percentage of copper. Nonetheless the school is taking no chances and is also using hand sanitiser.

Their wonderful Librarian, hearing that the UK was short of PPE, with equal care sent us 120 sterile face masks, by 3-day delivery, most of which we have donated to a local surgery.


Posted on Mar 10, 2020 by bta

The Practice is delighted to be recognised by Country Life in their list of the 35 best Country House Architects in Britain. In the spirit of the Country Life cover, here some photos of our office dog Frida and dogs from both mentioned projects; Channel Island and Bonnington House.




Posted on Mar 3, 2020 by bta

Congratulations to our newly qualified Architect, Mathew, after passing his Part 3 exam last week: we are so proud!  Now many choices open up for him, not least which cake to try first...


Posted on Feb 27, 2020 by bta

The latest addition to the practice’s library is an 8-volume compendium of all aspects of woodwork, covering everything from design to structure & furniture, in 1904.

The covers are designed by Talwin Morris who was significant part of Charles Rennie Macintosh’s circle and designed a great many book covers for Walter Blackie, Macintosh’s client for Hill House at that date.

Inside the back cover of Volume 5 was the previous owner’s tax return for 1966, other correspondence and fine portrait. 


Posted on Jan 22, 2020 by bta

BTA gathered together many of the influential people in Kintyre and Scotland's conservation community to consider the future of Cour House, an exceptional masterpiece by Oliver Hill, which is now almost unhabitable and so uneconomical to repair that its future is very much in doubt.  After two days of intense discussions, in very cold conditions, led by author Alan Powers and chaired by AHSS President Simon Green, most left with a determination to see the place saved, but well aware that the difficulties are legion. 


Posted on Nov 28, 2019 by bta

We were privileged to be working for Jonathan Miller when he was Chairman of the Fringe.  At a Board meeting he asked why the Scottish Arts Council had not given a grant for the iconic shopfront designed with Gerald Scarfe.  We responded that they had told us the brief was ‘too restrictive’.  The brief was for something ‘eye-catching, fun and representing music, drama, comedy and writing’.  Jonathan then went off into a 10-minute reverie on the ‘Disastrous History of the Restrictive Brief’, ranging from Michelangelo to naughty knickers.  It was an extraordinary impromptu performance as good as any show.  He really was a genius.


Posted on Nov 13, 2019 by bta

A view of the sculptor and artist Michelle de Bruin with her latest work of a wolf; though her cockapoo Pippin insists she is the wolf.  Michelle’s studio is in Hutton Stone’s yard near the Union Chain Bridge in Berwickshire.


Posted on Oct 25, 2019 by bta

Our newest member of staff is now 12 weeks old.  Her energy is prodigious, for about 30 minutes at a time, and after needs a little sleep. 


Posted on Sep 17, 2019 by bta

There is a famous letter about Kelburn Castle, where the next phase of HES grant assisted repairs is about to start, which Evelyn Waugh sent to his wife Laura on 31st May 1942, which can also be heard in this recording by Geoffrey Palmer.  Here's what Waugh wrote:

No. 3 Commando were very anxious to be chums with Lord Glasgow so they offered to blow up an old tree stump for him; and he was very grateful and he said don't spoil the plantation of young trees near it because that is the apple of my eye; and they said no of course not we can blow a tree down so that it falls on a sixpence; and Lord Glasgow said goodness you are clever and he asked them all to luncheon for the great explosion.
So Colonel Durnford-Slater DSO said to his subaltern, have you put enough explosive in the tree. Yes sir, 75 lbs. Is that enough? Yes sir I worked it out by mathematics it is exactly right. Well better put a bit more. Very good sir.

And when Col. D. Slater D.S.O. had had his port he sent for the subaltern and said subaltern better put a bit more explosive in that tree. I don't want to disappoint Lord Glasgow. Very good sir.

Then they all went out to see the explosion and Col. D.S. D.S.O. said you will see that tree fall flat at just that angle where it will hurt no young trees and Lord Glasgow said goodness you are clever.

So soon they lit the fuse and waited for the explosion and presently the tree, instead of falling quietly sideways, rose 50 feet into the air taking with it half an acre of soil and the whole of the young plantation.

And the subaltern said Sir I made a mistake, it should have been 7.5 lbs not 75.

Lord Glasgow was so upset he walked in dead silence back to his castle and when they came to the turn of the drive in sight of his castle what should they find but that every pane of glass in the building was broken.

So Lord Glasgow gave a little cry and ran to hide his emotion in the lavatory and there when he pulled the plug the entire ceiling, loosened by the explosion, fell on his head.

This is quite true.

Like most good stories, this has a germ of truth but it has been significantly embroidered; maybe Evelyn Waugh himself had the help of some excellent port?  For "all the glass in the castle", read 'the top left hand square of the lower sash' (see image) and for the ceiling collapsing in the WC, no such evidence either.  As for the rest of it, decimal points, military decorations and all, we don't have the facts but are sure anyone will get the gist!