Sutherland & Co. studio

Sutherland & Co., East Lothian, 2018


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The existing building dates from around 1950 and occupies a former wynd which once ran from the town’s High Street down to the west beach.

This has resulted in a remarkably narrow and deep plan with an internal width of little more than 3.5m, while the site extends to a depth of 45m. The redevelopment was as much an exercise in subtraction as addition, peeling away accumulated layers of past development.

A poorly placed fire escape, built following the 1960s fire, compromised the first floor layout but was made redundant by the introduction of a sprinkler system, also allowing the interior to be substantially opened up. Removing existing internal linings during initial downtakings revealed stock brick structural walls, built entirely independent of the neighbouring buildings, which it was decided to repair and leave exposed.

The first floor has been substantially opened up and the depth of the new studio space gives a sense of generosity that belies its modest size. Oversized cross-laminated spruce sliding door panels allow main studio and meeting space to be closed off when required.

A Troldtekt wood fibre ceiling provides a unifying element and exaggerates the depth of the interior. The rear of the site, fronting onto Forth Street, was once occupied by a second building that was demolished in the 1960s to facilitate widening of the street. Removal of the first floor fire escape has now opened up the rear of the site providing potential for further development, hopefully a new-build family home.

The project was effectively self-built, delivered through a parallel development company. This gave a lot of flexibility to adjust and fine tune aspects of the design while the work was underway. Investing our time and energy in the project also helped to get the most out of a relatively modest budget.


  • Begun: Jan 2018
  • Completed: Jul 2018
  • Floor area: 110m2
  • Sector: Residential
  • Total cost: £60,000
  • Funding: Private
  • Tender date: Nov 2017
  • Procurement: Self-build
  • Address: 82 High Street, North Berwick, East Lothian, EH39 4HF, United Kingdom