An Unexpected Journey

Have you ever come across a view or landscape that lifts the spirit and makes you stop for a second ? 

An unexpected trip to Aberdeen, rekindled a sense of adventure as I headed into Moray this week. Any trip along the A96 induces a sense of dread, so when the sat nav suggested a trip via Carrbridge, Aberlour and Dufftown I was ready to give it a chance.


Tormore village Moray

The landscape of Speyside which is unlike any other in the North. The rolling hills and mature trees make this more a kin to Perthshire, but that little bit more dramatic. Around each corner another famous distillery, rewarding the industrious communities along the A95 with sense of prosperity and pride.

The planned village of Tormore caught my eye.  A subtle development that follows the curve of the landscape as it gently flows down towards the distillery at the bottom of the village. The bright white walls of the cottages stand out against the verdant green of the trees and grass.

This development highlights the role of classical geometry in creating harmonious spaces and environments. The village is in perfect balance. The houses are striking, instantly recognisable but not because of anything unique or unusual. If you took one on its own, out of context, you probably wouldn’t give it a second glance. The magic lies in the composition of the whole. The relationship of one house to another. The subtlety of the curves in plan and section that nestle into the landscape rather than standing out from it. Georgian proportions and spacing provide a sense of dignity and repose that contrasts with the more informal, rugged character of traditional cottages.

You might think that this was a model village from the early 19th century, following the Victorian examples of planned settlements such as Ullapool or the industrial villages of New Lanark. An attempt to create a utopian vision for the working classes.

The development was built in 1958 in a collaboration between architects Sir Albert Richardson and Alexander Cullen of Inverness. The intention as to recall the rural architecture of the Victorian period and the buildings certainly have the appearance of a lighthouse by Stevenson or a planned town by Thomas Telford, the great Victorian engineers. The flat roof elements to the side with a single circular window provide a subtle hint of their more modern pedigree.

Tormore house design

Our eyes and brains are constantly busy trying to make sense of the world around us, to work out why things are the way they are. Then in one moment, you find yourself in a situation where unconsciously, your eye and brain will have unlocked a series of visual relationships that are in harmony and make sense, bring you a sense of satisfaction and peace. Technical expertise can get you a building, but architecture, whether traditional or contemporary, requires a mastery of proportion, space and light.

A chartered architect has spent years studying on a dedicated course followed by further years working to gain experience under the supervision of an experienced practitioner, before they are admitted to the profession. If you want to create spaces that lift the spirit, talk to a chartered architect. 

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