At once futuristic and traditional, this miniature escape by Studio Weave makes a bold mark using just zinc and plywood.
On the western coast of Scotland, this modern artist’s studio is precariously wedged between natural granite rocks and the flowing stream below. The space takes selective cues from its neighbors, man-made and natural, while itself managing to be wholly unique. The vernacular of local Victorian buildings is adopted in the traditional moldings and gables, while the raw and elemental exterior has organic dialogue with the surrounding granite rocks. The studio, says project lead Eddie Blake, “is both completely from the place and at the same time from another planet.” Behind the spiky and tough exterior lies a surprisingly warm and inviting artist’s workspace: minimal, functional, and completely at one with nature.
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The studio is located in the natural context of the Scottish coast, with the island of Jura in the distance. A significant design challenge, according to Blake, was “building something quite refined in an extreme and remote environment.” To overcome this logistical obstacle, much of the material was prefabricated offsite and transported to the building location. At the facade, elemental zinc is elevated from raw material to art piece by the unique cladding pattern. The custom embossed standing seam zinc system was designed in collaboration with VM Zinc, and fitted by HLMetals.
Occupying a footprint of just 110 square feet, the studio finds smart ways to maximize space. Central to this undertaking is the studio’s cantilever, which appears to float over the stream. The cantilever affords the studio more internal volume, while occupying no greater footprint below.
The studio’s artist wanted a workspace that would be a blank canvas. Accordingly, sustainably sourced birch plywood was seamlessly used throughout the interior space. When it becomes weathered, damaged, or covered in paint, it can be easily removed and replaced.
Light is controlled in the studio to facilitate the artist’s work. Half of the studio is flooded with northern light for traditional art forms such as sculpture and drawing, while the other half minimizes light to avoid screen glare for digital work.
The studio's double-pitched roof is a nod to the traditional local architecture.
A ‘light soffit’ offers a dynamic view of the stream below, providing both visual and audio stimulation. Throughout the year, the studio is filled with the sound of water, from the ocean waves to the rain and drizzle, to the flowing stream below. The artist, who has a longstanding connection to the site, focuses on “art which leaves marks at once permanent and delicate,” much like the structure itself.
While making its own unique mark, the studio is also deeply respectful towards its historic surroundings. The structure sits directly on top of a Victorian "midden wall," an enclosure traditionally used by the adjacent stables as a depository for horse manure. The studio's twin gables mimic its direct neighbors, and the zinc molding on the gutter also echoes its Victorian predecessors.
European baroque architecture, especially the Gesù Nuovo in Naples, is closely referenced in the diamond cladding pattern of the zinc. This connection plays into Blake’s interest in “how buildings become vessels for cultural meaning.” Although the theme of continental influence on Scottish architecture punctuates the design, Blake emphasizes the pure and joyous nature of the structure. “In some ways it’s a serious building about architecture, but it is also just meant to look pretty, glisten in the sunlight, talk to the water, and just feel right.”