THE fictional Hundred Acre Wood conceived by writer AA Milne was part of the land inhabited by Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends – but set against a wooded backdrop on the banks of Loch Awe in the Scottish Highlands is another Hundred Acre Wood, only this one rises from the undulating landscape like a grey monolith rather than a contemporary house.

At first glance the building’s austere and somewhat formidable form is far removed from the country norm. But this home was not designed to appease or conform to a preconceived look. Instead, it responds to the environmental context and reflects the personalities and needs of its owners – architectural alchemy at its best.

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The house is a second home for David and Margaret, a forever legacy for their extended family – six children ranging in ages from 17 to 44 and, to date, six grandchildren.

“The grandchildren were the catalyst,” says financial advisor David, who works in Glasgow. “Our permanent home is in an outlying village near the city, but in 2007 we saw a 40-hectare (100-acre) former Forestry Commission site overlooking Loch Awe advertised for sale with a small private lochan and planning permission for a small log cabin – and bought it. It was my brother-in-law who made the connection that gave it its name.”

Having never built a house before, David and Margaret were full of ideas by the time they found the right architect for the project – in London no less, albeit Murray Kerr, who founded Glasgow and London-based Denizen Works architectural studio in 2011, and hails from Kilbarchan, which is not far from David and Margaret’s home.

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“We loved a house he designed for his parents on the Isle of Tiree, which won Grand Designs Home of the Year in 2014,” says David.

“We went into our first meeting thinking we wanted a symmetrical 12,000sq ft baronial palace with a big party basement and room for an 18ft Christmas tree,” he recalls.

“What followed was a lot of talking. Murray took us through a vernacular timeline from brochs to defensive castles, baronial piles, and Charles Rennie Macintosh. He also highlighted the constraints and sensitive issues surrounding the site – and spent a lot of time talking with the planners to ensure that when he finally showed them plans there was no sharp intake of breath.

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“Best of all, not having to move house or meet deadlines meant we had the luxury of time, which allowed Murray and co-director Andrew Ingham to develop a clear understanding of who we are and how we live, which is reflected in the project. It was time well spent and allowed us to forge a strong relationship – and happily, we now have the most asymmetrical house possible, half the size, and no basement.”

Hundred Acre Wood looks like a solid mass that could have been sculpted by Basque artist Eduardo Chillida, whose cubic marble sculptures inspired the property’s cut-away sections. From one perspective it appears to be a low-lying building hunkered in the landscape with the two-storey bedroom wing sloping down on one side; from another it stands proud and invincible against human or climatic assault – while the addition of a tower and arrow-slit windows give a nod of recognition to a fortified castle. However, not all is what is appears.

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This timber-framed house breaks new ground with a blue/grey harled façade developed by Denizen Works, a modern take on traditional Scottish harling made from recycled smashed-up television screens that glint in the sun and echo David’s disdain for the dominance of television (there is only one in the house). As the harling material had not been used on a building before, Denizen had to develop prototypes to test and assess its performance for approval.

Inside reveals more gems. The clients’ desire to accommodate an 18ft Christmas tree is met with an awe-inspiring central, double-height hall lit by a gleaming gold-leaf-lined oculus in the ceiling, while at ground level, a dug-out pit anchors the tree and can be covered by a bronze manhole cover the rest of the time. Adding to the hall’s sense of scale and drama, the polished clay walls have a gold mica fleck while the polished concrete floor incorporates mirror aggregate for added sparkle. The hall doubles as an entertainment and play space for adults and grandchildren respectively.

“We overlooked the need for a children’s playroom, which is currently at the planning stage, along with a detached garage,” David reveals.

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Off the hall are the main living spaces – a living room with a spectacular view of the loch, big open fireplace, and even bigger L-shaped sofa David and Margaret commissioned from Southern Guild, a boutique gallery in South Africa prior to the project – along with the similarly oversized four-metre black steel table and black ash chandelier commanding centre stage in the double-height, barrel-ceiling dining room.

“Most people finish the house before they furnish, whereas some of our rooms had to be designed around the furniture,” he says.

The kitchen is another surprise. Located off the entrance vestibule and boot room is a room dominated by a huge eight-oven Aga set against a stainless steel wall, a table (another buy from South Africa) and a silver-painted dresser – all the other modern appliances are tucked away in a small galley-style kitchen which provides a link between the Aga room and the formal dining room.

The seven bedrooms are all en suite, bringing the total bathroom count to nine. One of the bedrooms provides a dormitory for the grandchildren and incorporates two, three-storey bunks bought ready-made from a furniture shop in Oban.

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“The Victorian-style sanitaryware was also ordered from Cape Town as it’s significantly cheaper even allowing for shipping,” says David. “And it can be specified – baths with copper on the outside and chrome inside, for instance. There are no vanity units, just shelves in Scottish oak.” One bathroom incorporates two freestanding copper bathtubs positioned side by side beneath a mirrored copper ceiling, a romantic pairing also greatly enjoyed by the grandkids.

Other quirky features include a first-floor gallery overlooking the hall, a sunken whisky bar and seating nooks. There is also a home cinema room at the top of the tower – and blinds adapted by Denizen Works to incorporate midge-proof screens on one side and black-out blinds on the other.

This project took eight years to complete and is all the better for it. Hundred Acre Wood is a wonderfully eccentric house and although very different from the ‘baronial palace’ originally anticipated, it works at every level and is a tribute to the synergy between the architects and clients.