The White House, Kirkcudbright
Mike and Lesley Smith
Internal Floor Area
White House and Lighthouse
The house is a response to the site, a response to living on the edge of the Solway Firth. The natural rhythm of the ebb and flow of the tides transform the setting over time, while the changing light, reflecting off the water is also quite magical.
In simple terms the house consists of circular drums linked together, rather like binoculars, but three drums rather than two. A visor then stretches between two of the drums, like a pair of goggles to take in the view.
The Smiths were professors of Russian and had a great affection for the Melnikov house, designed in 1920’s Moscow by the constructivist architect Melnikov, and made up of 2 interlocking drums.
The house is organised with its visor to the view, and in the same way we lift binoculars up to our eyes to see, the public spaces of the house are raised up to first floor level. The bedrooms are on the ground floor.
On reflection, and at a larger scale, the drums recall the white light houses of the west coast of Scotland.
Although these lighthouses are warning symbols as opposed to outlook points, there is something very powerful about these simple white forms on the edge of the land.
The house is a response to the site, and to living on the edge of the Solway Firth. In simple terms it consists of circular drums linked together, rather like binoculars, but three drums rather than two. A visor then stretches between two of the drums, like a pair of goggles to take in the view. The living spaces are raised to first floor as viewing spaces, with the bedrooms at ground floor. The third drum is separated slightly by a glazed link, and contains a library and guest bedroom.
The approach to the interior of the White House was to keep it simple. Timber finishes were used throughout, played off against the white walls and ceilings to bring a natural warmth to the interior. The study drum, which is separated from the fused drums by a glazed link, is fully lined with timber bookcases with windows providing 360 degree glimpses to the surrounding landscape.
“This is, quite simply, a lovely house to live in, both energising and relaxing in the way it exploits the full potential of the site and in its use of light and space. It's a house that makes you want to get up in the morning, and a house that friends like to visit, again and again. With its distinctive cylindrical forms, it has become something of a local landmark, appreciated by the community as an addition to Kirkcudbright's heritage as "Artists' Town".”