Abbotsford Visitor Reception Building

Abbotsford Visitor Reception Building

Abbotsford was the home of Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), author of Ivanhoe, Waverley and The Lady of the Lake and in his time the most popular novelist of the day with readers all over the world.

Abbotsford was the home of Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), author of Ivanhoe, Waverley and The Lady of the Lake and in his time the most popular novelist of the day with readers all over the world. He was an antiquarian and collector, and the design of Abbotsford, completed in 1825, was inspired his knowledge of Scottish history. It is an imposing stone mansion in the Scottish Baronial style, enriched with heraldry, turrets and finials and set on the banks of the river Tweed near Melrose in the Scottish Borders. To the impressive interior – hall, library, vast dining room – Scott added carved stones and timber paneling salvaged from earlier buildings. He also designed the beautiful formal gardens, which form three outdoor rooms enclosed with brick and stone walls. The house is surrounded by an extensive woodland estate of over 100 acres, with mature trees which were mostly planted by Scott. Scott’s descendants lived in the house till 2004. In 2007 the Abbotsford Trust was established to safeguard its future by means of much needed conservation and development work. The first phase of the development, now complete, is a new visitor entrance, car park and visitor reception building, designed by LDN Architects following an open competition launched by the Abbotsford Trust in 2007. The new visitor reception building, set in mature woodland and adjacent to the historic footpath of Borders Abbeys Way, is linked to Abbotsford gardens and house by a short paved footpath. Conceived as a modern version of a Victorian gate lodge, it is designed to act as a new symbolic gateway to Abbotsford. Its calm modern appearance, open plan and flat roof are a foil to the highly decorated and hierarchical Scottish Baronial architecture of Sir Walter’s masterpiece. Timber construction is used in every aspect of the Abbotsford visitor reception, its structural elements, external and internal cladding and linings, and its fixtures and fittings. The use of this natural material not only conforms to the Scottish Borders Council policy encouraging building with timber but also acknowledges that timber is a truly sustainable construction material.

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