Alison Davie, Co-founder of Little & Davie Construction

Kirsty and I were introduced by a mutual friend, and while we have a very professional relationship, she is always a pleasure to work with. I think it helps when you’re working with someone who understands you, who can clearly say what they’re aiming for and knows what’s required.

My career led me into doing a Traditional Building Fellowship with Historic Scotland, and I have worked as a site manager for Scottish masonry contractors for years. The ecological aspects of our work did attract my interest, and that’s something I’ve become progressively more interested in as time’s gone on.

But having an awareness of that side of the trade seems to be increasingly important for everyone. A lot of the work we do is conservation and in a great deal of old or listed buildings, which often means that there’s a limit to how much you can alter or change, so sometimes you’re required to use original ­materials. My time at Historic Scotland came in handy for this, as I focused on things such as making lime mortar and cutting and dressing stone, which can be hugely difficult. This has proved particularly useful on large-scale conservation projects, such as Falkland Palace, which I worked on with Kirsty.

We work on everything from National Trust to Government commissions, public spaces and private clients’ residences. While not every one of the environmental methods we use can be applied to buildings, I think there’s a growing recognition that ecological ­considerations need to be addressed.

When I’m on site it’s important to keep my attention focused on the job at hand. Someone in Kirsty’s position has to keep all the plates spinning, as it were. They have the master plan. She’s also just a lovely person, very considerate, and I always look forward to any upcoming projects we have lined up. There’s no uncertainty about them, we know what to expect, and the fact that Kirsty lives about five miles down the road from me­ definitely helps.

Kirsty Maguie, Environmental Architect with Arc Architects

I came to know Alison though mutual friends, as well as working with her on various projects. She’s extremely knowledgeable about the fields she works in, but she’s also willing to share that knowledge and work collaboratively. I’m a sixth-generation architect, so I guess architecture is in my genes. The current generation of my family is spread all over the world, and we all work in different areas.

I was attracted to sustainable design because, to me, it’s integral to good design overall, just as aesthetics is. It affects things like the occupant’s health, and the use and enjoyment of space, as well as dealing with issues such as our growing concern for the environment, low energy use and low running costs. It’s a combination of technical considerations and issues of beauty.

I’ve been at Arc Architects for about five years now, and it matches my own interests very nicely. I heard about the company through its work and research. We work on a large range of projects, although they’re all quite special.

Recently, our research has been more energy-related, and we’ve been working with the National Trust For Scotland to upgrade its existing buildings and make them more energy-efficient. At the other end of the scale, we do a lot of what we call “new world” architecture, which is mostly environmental, sustainable buildings for clients whether domestic or commercial.

And we also do a lot of conservation work. Falkland Palace, for example, was one of our most recent projects with the National Trust.

I’d say everything that is a part of sustainability should be applied as widely as possible. It’s not just tree-hugging, or some niche concern. Energy use is so important and is easy to quantify, so it’s something that has been heavily focused on, but it’s really just one element of a wider issue. I think it’s best to take a holistic view – what materials are used, how they’re used, how the buildings will be used now and in the future. It all adds up.

It’s always enjoyable to work with Alison, and I look forward to doing so again.

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