Sustainable and Scottish: First Minister opens low-energy home designed by university architect

First Minister Alex Salmond has officially opened the Model-D Show House at Pitmachie, near Insch, which has been built to address affordable, sustainable rural housing demand in Scotland. This comes as the result of a successful partnership between Robert Gordon University’s Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment (SSS) and local construction company Sylvan Stuart Ltd.

Model-D House Gokay First MinisterDeveloped as part of a funded Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) agreement, the Model-D Show House is made almost entirely from Scottish timber, and was created from a concept aimed at exploring affordable, low-carbon homes which could be easily constructed in rural communities.

The Show House comprises a double-height open-plan living, dining and kitchen area, a work space, two/three bedrooms, a shower-room and bathroom over a 1¾ storey layout with a steep roof pitch consistent with traditional Scottish rural housing.

In addition to using an innovative engineering process in the design of the house, the building incorporates a number of features to ensure a low-carbon footprint including super insulation levels, air-tight construction, triple-glazing and solar panels.

Facilitated by the North of Scotland KTP Centre, which provides the framework and resources to support collaborations and partnerships between companies and academics, the partnership combined expertise in architectural design and professional construction.

Professor Gokay Deveci from the SSS, who spearheaded the design at Pitmachie, has an international reputation for his expertise in sustainable private and social housing, recently winning the 2011 Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Award, as well as three accolades at the Scottish Design Awards for his commitment to energy efficient, low-cost homes.

Professor Deveci comments:  “The Model-D House not only offers a solution to help reach Scotland’s 2016 carbon targets but is also a viable and affordable housing option for rural communities where fuel poverty is a major concern with the rising costs of energy.

“The success of this development proves thatModel-D Show 
House sustainable, energy efficient design is possible on a restricted budget.  Affordability has not been achieved at the expense of architectural design or construction quality.

Exceptionally high insulation levels combined with triple glazing, air-tight construction and controlled ventilation ensures very low heating requirements. Rain screening protects the timber wall cladding and also provides the house exterior with its own micro-climate.

“For me, the sustainable architecture covers not only ecological and energy considerations but also economic, social, and aesthetic aspects, all of which are reflected in this innovative rural house project.  I would use the phrase ‘future capable’ to describe my approach to the design.”

First Minister Alex Salmond said: “I’m delighted to officially open the Model-D Show House at Pitmachie, developed by Robert Gordon University and Sylvan Stuart Ltd.  Not only will the results of their innovative partnership help cut carbon emissions and tackle climate change, but they can also drive down families’ energy bills. I’m also encouraged to see such fine examples of sustainable affordable homes being created by Scottish firms using Scottish materials.”

Sylvan Stuart Ltd, a timber frame building specialist based near Insch, formed the partnership with Professor Deveci to develop durable designs and sound construction methods specifically looking at ‘buildability’ - how houses can be built easily and affordably.

Bryan Stuart, Managing Director, explains: “We are constantly seeking to refine our kit fabrication and construction methods to increase efficiency with particular emphasis on site erection procedures.  These will be fundamental considerations in the further work being carried out under the KTP.

 “The firm has always specialised in timber buildings and champions the use of Scottish timber in the leisure, recreation and housing markets. The Model-D Show House has successfully trialled a range of options that can be incorporated in future homes we supply.”

A number of Scottish-based companies have also supplied materials and components to the House including timber processors James Jones & Sons, Sterlingboard producer Norbord from their factory in Inverness, and Velux who have a roof window manufacturing base at Glenrothes.

Over the next year, the project will employ a postgraduate student from the SSS to research and develop a standardised construction model and range of low-carbon house designs in order to refine cost-efficient fabrication procedures, as well as monitor the environmental effectiveness of the initial design.                                              


Notes to Editors: 

Photographs of Mr Salmond’s visit and interviews with Professor Deveci and Bryan Stuart are available on request from the Communication Office (details below).


Issued by:

Sarah Grieve

Communications Officer

Robert Gordon University



AB10 1FR

Tel: 01224 262206