Carnoch parish church at Strathconan is a fine example of the many T-plan churches designed by engineer and architect Thomas Telford across the Highlands in the early part of the 19th Century. Its simple economy of structure and space, coupled with an avoidance of decoration, gives it a restrained beauty.
But like many churches it had lost its congregation, with its fabric falling in to steady decline as the elements took their toll.
Our clients wished to salvage the building by turning in in to a two-bedroom house, but without making the church look domesticated. Its grade B listing meant that the renovation required a subtle approach where we retained the character of its fenestrations and reused as much of the original fabric as practical.
We therefore kept the external interventions to a minimum – replacing the decayed metal Y- tracery arched windows with carefully matched timber versions, with the main visual intervention being skylights to the roof.
Internally, we raised the floor level as you step up from the entrance lobby. This pragmatically dealt with the flood risk from the adjacent river Meig. It also made the main volume less cavernous in scale and allowed the ground floor to meet the base of the arched windows, giving better views across the glen.
The main space has a central plan with the stove centred on the gable window, while the staircase to the upper floor bedroom has a sculptural simplicity which evokes memories of the pulpit. The upper floor study is accessed behind the kitchen, again keeping the integrity of the volume of the church while giving a variety of experience moving through the space.
The finished building is a testament to the commitment of the clients to invest in the heritage of their own community, and of the skill and dedication of local contractor Simpson Builders.
Simpson Builders – Main Contractors
Tangram – Furnishers
Felix Mooneeram – Photographer