My earliest influence without question was my
grandfather the architect Frank Wood.

He became the Dux in Architecture at Edinburgh College in 1921. As a direct result he became the last assistant of Sir George Washington Browne.

Buildings of note include the George IV Library and the Caledonian Hotel Edinburgh. While at the office he was also responsible for doing the drawings for the gates of Holyrood Palace.

My grandfather then left and became assistant to Keith Robertson, where he was soon responsible for finishing East Suffolk Halls of Residence and designing the Demonstration School at Moray House and Montisori nursery.

By the age of 26 he had inherited the practice and was responsible for designing a substantial number of private residences throughout Edinburgh. His own home "Courtrai" which he designed at the age of 30 at Duddingston Rd. West is now listed.

After the second world war my grandfather left private practice and joined the civil service. Firstly working in the education department then moving to be involved with listing buildings in Scotland. He was personally responsible for the listings in Elgin, Nairn, Moray and Renfordshire amongst others.

As a child my grandfather spent a considerable amount of time with me. I remember being taken on numerous walking tours around buildings old and new.

For many of the Edwardian buildings he had personally known the designers and had tales to tell of the builders.

On one particular occasion I remember my grandfather taking me to the National Galleries for an exhibition on the Robert Adam drawings from Blair Adam. I was swept away by the Romantic images. How could somebody sketch these fantastic images straight from their imagination?

My grandfather then told me we had our own style of Scottish Architecture that was based on a very individual and beautiful style created in the sixteenth century and that many architects had used this language to design their buildings.

He then stated his friend the architect Leslie Thompson could out of his head sketch most of the sixteenth century castles.

How could he do this?

My grandfather then apologised to me, he had given most of his collection of architecture books to the Edinburgh Architectural Association and one in particular that I should look at, "MacGibbon and Ross."

On my first year out from studying architecture I was working in London. I was feeling particularly home sick and uncomfortable when the values and culture at the height of Thatchers Anglocentric Britain were in full flourish, and I very much wanted to design 'Scottish' buildings.

Each Thursday afternoon and every Sunday I would go to the Royal Institute of British Architects and work in the library. Within the first couple of weeks I discovered the 5 volumes of "MacGibbon and Ross." I was again swept away with the dramatic drawings.

I then began to work through the book. I wanted to be able to sketch the castles like Leslie Thompson.

After one year I started to achieve my aim. On returning to Dundee University for my B Arch, I was able to continue my research into sixteenth century architecture.

On graduating I was delighted to receive a first but more exciting for me I was awarded the Dundee Prize for Civic Architecture and the Scottish Education department travelling scholarship, which allowed me to purchase a small moped and for four months toured Scotland sketching, photographing and videoing the majority of Scotland sixteenth century towerhouses and castles.

In Charles McKean's book "The Scottish Thirties," Charles referred to an article commissioned by the Saltire society on Scots Architecture, in it Alan Reiach and Robert Hurd argued that native Scots architecture had a sturdy simplicity highly appropriate to modern times.

Although I agreed, I produced three files of sketches and photocopies analysing more complex relationships of form, planes and proportion that had been missed and that
then could all be important keys for developing a modern Scots architecture.

Charles McKean was then to develop some of these aesthetic findings in his scholarly work "The Scottish Chateau" in 2001.

With the help of some very talented students from the Film and Video Department in the School of Art I was able to produce a video of computer graphics and video clips demonstrating some of these aesthetic features. It was shown at the Royal Incorporation of Architects annual convention in 1989.

To me it was very exciting to discuss my research face to face with architectural theoreticians such as Bruno Zevi and the famous sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi; it gave me the encouragement to start my practice.

My first chance to develope these ideas came with the commission of Castle Dhu.

A client had a beautiful piece of land in the Green Belt, in the Scottish Borders. I was able to convince the planners to pass it. B.B.C film crews wanted to film the final design but alas the client did not want any publicity.

At the same time I, with a colleague, built a stableblock in West Lothian.

From this project work has been generated by word of mouth, awards and enquiries from various articles, however the practices main aim is to be simply the best practice in Scotland in designing houses and small developments in a modern Scots style.


With new developments in carbon neutral construction and renewable energy it is a very exciting time to develop a new Scottish house style.