John O’Groats has been famous, and infamous, for many reasons throughout its history. Well-known as a starting or finishing point in the journey that encompasses the length of Britain, it received less favourable attention in recent years for architectural neglect. Now, after a dramatic “rebirth”, John O’Groats has risen like the proverbial phoenix to become a shining star, drawing visitors ever northward.
Natural Retreats and Heritage Great Britain joined forces to restore this famed location by creating an outstanding, multi-million pound development. They commissioned GLM architects to restore The Inn, a Victorian Baronial Hotel that had become almost derelict, and create additional luxury accommodation attached to and separate from the hotel.
The entire development was required to meet Natural Retreat’s demanding sustainability standards and, whilst the accommodation attached to the hotel needed to both complement yet hold its own against the historic building, the 23 individual lodges built alongside needed to be discreet, blending in with the landscape in order not to detract from the stunning views.
Neil McAllister, lead architect on the project, decided to take full advantage of the versatile qualities of timber in fulfilling the multi-faceted aims of the project. Neil came to Russwood as he considered us to have "a good reputation" in supplying "cost-effective, quality, locally sourced materials” to “complement his clients’ aspirations in providing stylish yet eco-friendly accommodation.”
He chose to use Scotlarch® cladding in a variety of forms for the development. The eco-lodges have been clad with the timber in its unfinished form in order to utilise the chameleon-like properties that are afforded by the weathering process. Paired with sedum roofs and large glazed screens that maximise the sweeping views, the luxury lodges now nestle unobtrusively into the landscape, weathering to a subtle silver-grey and blending in perfectly.
As the same qualities that made unfinished timber so perfect for the lodges precluded uncoated Scotlarch® from being used on the hotel, vacuum coated Scotlarch® was provided instead. With the original hotel fully restored, a series of extension blocks were built to add to the existing building and our vacuum coated cladding was used to provide definition. Having chosen a bright array of colours, each is presented on a differing profile and is unique to the individual block that it adorns. The resulting Scandinavian style definitely contrasts to the iconic hotel, adding vibrancy and colour to the landscape.
John O’Groats is now firmly back on the tourist map and is gaining fresh attention, this time for all the right reasons, as a destination worth travelling to.
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A selected grade of Scottish Larch which is locally-sourced
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