Our Approach to Design

We excel in delivering robust, high quality architecture in rural Scotland.

Deep appreciation of place

Roots is an architecture practice founded on a distinct principle: to create beautiful, enduring architecture you must understand the place where it will reside.

Many of the buildings we design are located in the exposed windswept landscapes of the West of Scotland. Traditional buildings here have endured through their ability to withstand severe Atlantic gales, horizontal rain, corrosive salt water and strong sunshine.  It is essential to us that our architecture responds well to the persistent forces of this extreme location.

Traditional buildings in this region have been shaped by their environment and the materials and trade skills available locally.  The distinctive qualities of these buildings have become synonymous with the identity of the place.  We endeavour to learn from these characteristics and improve upon them to strengthen the regional identity and provide for the changing needs of modern rural life.  Our designs explore a mix of old wisdom and new thinking to produce architecture that delivers the bright, spacious and cosy spaces our clients seek whilst integrating traditional characteristics that connect our work to the place and surrounding landscape.

We choose to live and work in the West of Scotland.  The outstanding beauty of the landscape, the rich cultural heritage and strong sense of community are part of what makes this area thrive. Our ambition is that our work through Roots will preserve and enhance the these unique places for years to come.


Responsible for the impact of our work

There are few places where the work of architects can have a greater impact than in rural communities.  Every refurbished building or new home can be a significant development for a small settlement, both in terms of expanding limited facilities or attracting new people to live or work there. 

Roots are based on the Isle of Tiree in the Inner Hebrides with a second office in Glasgow in the Central Belt of Scotland, and a third office in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull.  We live within the community for whom we often design.  We frequently pass many of the sites where our projects are under construction.  We witness first hand how the materials we have chosen weather through time.  Our close proximity to our work means that we must be accountable for the decisions we make and the impact our buildings have on the people they serve, the settlements they integrate into and the landscape they alter.

Our reputation for delivering high quality architecture and working responsibly with our clients and collaborators is one of our most important assets we have as a company.  As such we work hard to build strong professional relationships with Clients, Contractors, Quantity Surveyors, Engineers, and Council Planning & Building Services Officers.

Word of mouth continues to be the way in which most new clients find us.  This is an important way in which business is done in this region and for us this continues to be a good measure of the quality of service that we are providing.


Respectful of trades and traditions

Roots have a collaborative attitude towards designing and constructing buildings.

Many projects that we are most proud of have benefitted from ideas developed in collaboration with the builders, engineers and conservation experts we work with on a regular basis.

As architects we understand our strengths as well as our limitations.  We acknowledge expertise in those who build with materials every day and in all weather conditions.  It is with this respect for builders and tradesmen that we established Tog Studio, a construction school for self-builders, architects and engineers who want to learn about the process of turning a drawing into a building. 

As a practice we believe in learning through doing. All members of our team have spent time on construction sites gaining first hand experience working with builders and materials.  This experience has helped us to understand the implications of our design decisions and the process that others have to go through in order to achieve the results we are looking for.  We believe that maintaining this awareness and close dialogue between building site and architecture office hones our skills as designers to ultimately improve the efficiency of our projects and our effectiveness in problem solving on site.






The dwelling houses of Tiree are of different construction from that of any other part of the Country...

Built in the orthodox style, a Tiree dwelling will stand a hurricane without the least injury. The whistle of the wind is no more heard from within than in the interior of Ben Cruachan. As one may stand back from the edge of a precipice during the strongest gale, almost in peaceful calm, so the roof of a Tiree dwelling is protected from the violence of the storm. The wind strikes the walls, and shoots over the roof without scarcely touching it.
— Colin Sinclair 'The Thatched Houses of the Old Highlands' (1953)