We design architecture for all: inclusive, barrier free and participatory

Concepts and models: 7 years of Chambers McMillan
You can contact us at:

Chambers Mcmillan
9e Bellfiled Lane
Edinburgh EH15 2BL

t - 0131 669 5766
m - 07717131287


You can also follow us on facebook and twitter and also join our mailing list here.

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Posted on: June 19th, 2020

Concepts and models: 7 years of Chambers McMillan

We love helping people change the way they live. We love designing together, and working with our clients to develop spaces that make a real difference to them. Here are some of the concept designs we have worked on over these 7 years. If you would like us to design with and for you, get in touch, Chambers McMillan is here.









Find your space next to the outdoors

We have been, more or less, in our house for the last 13 weeks, and the thing that has kept us happy and able to do this is our outside spaces. Because the Ramp House was built on a tight urban site, we had to design it to maximise outside space, light, views out and fresh air in. We were very considered in the spaces we design next to these boundaries, and have found throughout lockdown ways to maximise how we use these spaces. Which spaces have you been using more during lockdown? If you need support with the design of your home, get in touch, Chambers McMillan is here.





Posted on: June 5th, 2020

Chambers McMillan Architects started off at the project table in the mezzannine study. We had no idea we were going to set up pratcice until we were walking round the building site of the Ramp house, and thought: we could do this for other people. We expanded to the kitchen table, but pretty soon realised that we needed a separate space, close to the house, where we could go outside then came back in each day for work. The shortest commute in Scotland. This worked well for our family life, which relies on us being able to respond flexibly to whatever support our daughter, Greta, needs. It has also enabled us both to have a very rich and fulfilling work life. This way of working has stood us in really good stead for the lockdown. But we have still found a need to expand our variety of work spaces through the Ramp house. Sometimes just sitting in a different space, with a different view, to think through a problem is what’s needed. Sometimes connecting to the rest of the family whilst working on a project (both girls love making models). and sometimes the quiet retreat of the newly formed ‘little Venice’ space at the top of the stairs. What have your experiences been of working from home during the lockdown, and how do you imagine that will continue during the return to the new normal. I’ve heard many people saying that they want to continue some kind of wfh: how do your existing spaces respond to this? If you need support to re-design spaces in your house to work better for our new normal, Chambers McMillan are here – just get in touch


Small accessible home

Posted on: March 24th, 2020

these options for a small accessible home on a narrow urban site can be developed for different briefs and sites. the core of the concept is how to live inclusively and accessibly in a small footprint, with enjoyable spaces that connect well, producing a home which has both variety and is a supportive environment

Previous Image
Next Image

info heading

info content


Highland Bothy

Posted on: March 16th, 2020

an accessibly highland bothy around an existing stone barn


Previous Image
Next Image

info heading

info content

accessible conversion Kelso

Posted on: March 10th, 2020

This project was to convert a church hall, which had been a much loved nursery, into a compact accessible living space. Using the front of the hall and carving out a courtyard to allow light into the depth of the spaces, arranged around the courtyard, giving each of them a connection to outside private space, as well as longer views out of the front. Each space has its own character, further enhanced by the colour and choice of materials and objects considerately placed by the client. Spatial and visual connections between each room were of great importance, to make a small place feel spacious.

As an existing church hall, the building already had a presence on the wide street, with its variety of scales of townhouses. With the ramp crossing the whole width of the building, a layering was set up, which we continued with layers of timber on the rendered front wall. The timber connects to the burnt larch timber cladding in the inner courtyard.

The client for the project was very hands on. From the design process through the whole build process, where she managed all the trades, and was involved in parts of the construction, including scorching all the burnt larch for the cladding herself (and really beautifully!)

The project is sustainable, in the decision to re-use an existing building which was no longer suitable for its purpose, in its choice of building materials, and just as importantly, in its inclusive, accessible nature.  With a ramped entrance to get to a level ground floor with a main bedroom, wet room, and living and kitchen space, as well as a small snug / second bedroom. The roof space has been converted into a third bedroom and wet room. The accessible concept makes it a lifetime home for anyone.


Previous Image
Next Image

info heading

info content

Garden Room Living

Posted on: March 30th, 2019

Re-thinking a two storey house, that was no longer working for the family, we developed the design in collaboration with the clients to create an open plan but articulated living garden room, with kitchen, sitting, dining, activity wall, window seat to the herb courtyard, and much better connection to the existing garden. This frees up the existing sitting room, either for teenagers to use, or in the future could be an accessible ground floor bedroom, making this a lifetime home. Like many houses the connections between inside and outside, and the connections between spaces for different uses needed to be re-designed, to create a flexible inclusive accessible family home


Previous Image
Next Image

info heading

info content


Disabled Scouts Lodge

Posted on: March 29th, 2019

This project is to extend and convert an existing lodge, so that the Glasgow Disabled Scouts can use it more inclusively and accessibly. the idea is that outside and inside spaces will work well together,  enabling more of the Scouts outdoor activities and adventures to happen. The design process has been inclusive, with co-design creative workshops informing the building.

Previous Image
Next Image

info heading

info content


re-inventing the bungalow

Posted on: March 27th, 2019

We were delighted to be granted planning this week for a bungalow in East Edinburgh – the design will enable the traditional bungalow to be re-invented, so that it will become a modern home that is a joy to live in.

Previous Image
Next Image

info heading

info content

Two Family Accessible Lifetime Home

Posted on: March 19th, 2019

This new build house, was designed to support two families, including one wheelchair user. It was important for the two families to feel well connected, whilst also having their own private space. We worked closely with the planning department to ensure that the understanding of the extra needs of the families were supported allowing a design that both works with the surrounding landscape whilst also providing a suitable lifetime home

Previous Image
Next Image

info heading

info content


inclusive and accessible family home

Posted on: October 30th, 2017

Saltire Award Winner

this small bungalow was adapted and extended to make a fully inclusive, spacious and accessible family home.

Previous Image
Next Image

info heading

info content

Chapel Conversion to Lifetime Home

Posted on: September 21st, 2016

this chapel conversion to a lifetime home, uses different levels of space to articulate the open plan in an accessible way.

Previous Image
Next Image

info heading

info content

The Rings accessible holiday cottages

Posted on: May 27th, 2016

the Rings wheelchair accessible holiday cottages

Previous Image
Next Image

info heading

info content

Spring Newsletter

Posted on: April 28th, 2016

Spring Newsletter – sign up for future newsletters2016Q1T version 3 email.pdf-1 2016Q1T version 3 email.pdf-2

Mews family home

Posted on: March 21st, 2016
Previous Image
Next Image

info heading

info content

accessible family home

Posted on: July 17th, 2015

accessible home enableaccessible family home

Doing Disability Differently: Vals Therme

Posted on: June 20th, 2015

Last year Doing Disability Differently by Jos Boys was published. My sensory description of Vals Therme, from Greta’s point of view, was included, as well as a critique of our Ramp House. I am now working with Katie Lloyd Thomas on Jos Boy’s follow up reader: our chapter The Ramp House: Building Inclusivity, will explore the planning, building and inhabitation of the ramp house as an ongoing process of inclusivity.



Thea MacMillan – Experiencing Zumthor

 The way that Zumthor’s spaces are perceived: in Vals Therme, each space has been considered sensorially; the searing heat of the 40° bath reflected by burning red terracotta walls, which change from highly glazed to porous rough at the line where the water laps, contrasted by the cool turquoise water of the central pool and the sharp air rolling down from the surrounding mountains to lie on top of the outdoor pool. Guided by the continuity of the touch of the changing stone in each changing space; offering different sensory experiences, using contrast and heightened touch, hearing, and smell.

Perception: coming into the space from above, the sound is first, then the weight of the leather curtain pushed aside, followed by smell. For anyone disabled who has learnt to use their senses differently to complete pictures, this place offers many different clues. The spatial configuration of open plan and smaller contained spaces and the connections between them, gives a complex aural feedback for the visually impaired to construct the space in their minds.

Movement through the spaces, whilst not supportive of all wheelchair users, with its slow long flat steps, provides added layers of sensory experience for those who can climb them. As this almost offers the inclusive experience of moving through changing space, it seems a missed opportunity not to have a ramp.

Thea McMillan 11/09/13


“Ultimately, of course, the aim is redefine what constitutes the normal [] ‘

The principle of the ramp house was to design and build a family home for a little girl who is a wheelchair user, where the whole house enables her to lead a barrier free included life. We are often confronted with the physical barriers that the built environment presents; in our own home we were able to design a fully inclusive place; using a ramp to access all levels, provides an equality of space to us all. We have designed spaces along the ramp, connecting both horizontally and vertically, so that the experience of the house changes as it unfolds.

The difference that the ramp makes is in how the spaces are experienced; this is both linear and sectional, and the opportunities to look back or forward into other spaces. The ramp contributes both width and height to each of the different pausing places along the way. As we inhabit the house, we can see how this provides variation, complexity, and flexibility in the everyday use of the house, how many spaces can be used concurrently and how it reaches its potential when it is inhabited: movement around it, by foot or on wheels brings the experience to life.

For a child who cannot move around independently, the connectivity of the spaces becomes all the more important. If Greta is in the living room, there are six different spaces that we can be in and move between, and she is still able to see and hear us, and communicate with us.’

“here, movement through the space is not separated out as ‘accessible circulation’ but formally interwoven with both how family life is lived, and with the multiple registers through which we engage with the material world simultaneously. Greta is neither a special case nor an unconsidered ‘anyone’: she is just one of the members of the family; as she says herself, ‘I am just a very busy eight year old and like everyone else, I just need a place which allows me to get on with things'” Jos Boys, Doing Disability Differently, Routledge.

new family room in the garden, submitted to planning

Posted on: June 19th, 2015


Biggar Artists Studio progressing well

Posted on: May 1st, 2015

We had a great visit to site this week: the studio will give artists Ken and Moira Russell better, light spaces to work in. http://www.inadifferentlight.co.uk/DSC_0406 IMG_1710 IMG_1715 IMG_1727 IMG_1725 IMG_1720 IMG_1717

Biggar artists’ studio

Posted on: March 18th, 2015

Two artists needing studio space: the tall north facing dormer window creates a space for painting, whilst the more contained space behind becomes a focussed smaller scale creating space.


Previous Image
Next Image

info heading

info content

converted roof space for art collector in Gullane – Planning Granted!

Posted on: March 6th, 2015

We are delighted that planning has been granted for a re-modelling of an upper flat, expanding into the roof space, to give an art collector more space for his paintings and sculptures, as well as living over a double height spaceINITIAL CONCEPT GULLANE 2_Page_4

Ground Floor Accessible Conversion

Posted on: September 20th, 2014
Previous Image
Next Image

info heading

info content

SG Minister Breaking Ground

Posted on: August 21st, 2014

IMG_0861Last week we celebrated the ground breaking for The Rings wheelchair accessible holiday cottages, with Fergus Ewing Scottish Minister for Tourism, Energy and Enterprise. This project has been through quite a process with planning, despite having an SDRP grant for the Scottish Government’s Farm Diversification Project. The Minister spoke about the importance of accessible tourism and described the building as iconic and world class: we now look forward to these cottages being built, and offering people the chance to have a fully accessible and restful holiday in the beautiful Fife countryside.

A1 IMAGE RINGS 2in this rural setting the landscape becomes the inspiration for the forms of the building.CMcM = client at rings cairnChambers McMillan and our client Moira Henderson

Scottish Home Awards 2014: Architectural Excellence.

Posted on: June 20th, 2014

We were delighted to be awarded Architectural Excellence for the Ramp House at last night’s Scottish Home Awards. It was a fab night, and we had a great time with the Orkney Builders whose table we were at. Here is the Press Release from the Scotsman: (obviously we didn’t convert a bungalow!)

Media Release


Friday 20 June 2014



The best new homes in Scotland have been revealed at the 7th annual Scottish Home Awards 2014 held in Edinburgh last night.


The Commonwealth Games Athletes’ Village in Glasgow delivered by City Legacy was the evening’s major winner, collecting three awards on the night.  The team won Community Partnership of the Year, City Apartment of the Year and Starter Home of the Year.


18 awards in total were presented across all budgets covering luxury housing, affordable flats and designer conversions with properties in Elgin, Paisley, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeenshire and North Berwick all collecting prizes.

Elgin-based, Springfield Properties collected the ultimate award for the second year in a row, the Scottish House Builder of the Year Award 2014 after notching up an impressive year of business and also collecting the Sales and Marketing Team of the Year Award.

Springfield built over 300 homes in 2013 to suit a range of budgets.  Their marketing campaign, branded Springfield Choices, created a 37% increase in sales and reinforced their strategy delivering bespoke homes created by their customers.


Housing Association of the Year went to Dundee and Perth based Caledonia Housing Association which manages 4,000 homes in Tayside, Fife and the Highlands and employing over 190 people in care and support services.

Luxury builder, CALA Homes, picked up two awards on the evening winning House of the Year for The Darroch in Woodilee Village, Lenzie while in the East, their McRae house in North Berwick collected the prize for Show Home of the Year.


The Castlewell development in Aberdeenshire, a community-driven development of new housing in Ellon won Housing Development of the Year award for Barratt Developments after the judges praised their exceptional approach to architecture and community engagement.


While in East Lothian the Conversion of the Year Award was collected by Lorn Macneal Architects for St Andrews Court, a small development of apartments in the desirable seaside town of Gullane.

Architectural Excellence for a single dwelling went to Chambers McMillian for The Ramp House in Edinburgh, a bespoke conversion of a bungalow dramatically redesigned to cope with the demands of a child with a physical disability.


Chair of the judging panel, the Scottish property journalist, Kirsty McLuckie, commented;

“We had a large number of contenders to consider with entries in their high hundreds again this year.  This competition isn’t like other programmes.  It’s clearly highly regarded, rigorously tested and really tough to win.  Congratulations to all our winners.”


The Scottish Home Awards programme is sponsored by property management company, Ross and Liddell.


Andrew Cunningham, Director, commented:

“The Scottish Home Awards continues to go from strength to strength.  Ross and Liddell are very happy to support this important programme which recognises the hard work and achievement of individuals and teams across the industry.   Congratulations to all our winners this year and we wish them continued success.”


400 guests attended the event held at the EICC and were hosted by DJ’s Grant Stott and Arlene Stuart.  Irish comedian, Andrew Ryan, provided after dinner entertainment.


The event, created in 2007 by KDMedia, has raised over £70,000 for charity with this year’s proceeds going to local charity It’s Good 2 Give to help build an incredible home for families with children affected by cancer – further information at www.itsgood2give.co.uk



Affordable Housing Development of the Year (private builders)

Cruden Homes (East) Ltd / Places for People Scotland – Choice, Craigmillar, Edinburgh


Large Affordable Housing Development of the Year (Housing Associations) sponsored by Aareon UK

Loretto Housing Association – Charleston Square, Paisley


Small Affordable Housing Development of the Year (Housing Associations) sponsored by Bank of Scotland

Link Group Ltd – Tannahill Crescent, Johnstone


Architectural Excellence Award (single dwelling) sponsored by Stephens & George Print Group

Chambers McMillan – The Ramp House, Portobello, Edinburgh


City Apartment of the Year sponsored by Scotland on Sunday

City Legacy – The Water Lilly at the Athletes’ Village, Glasgow


Community Partnership of the Year

Winner – City Legacy – Commonwealth Games Athletes’ Village, Glasgow

Highly commended – Dunedin Canmore – Oxgangs Regeneration, Edinburgh


Conversion of the Year sponsored by Daw Signs  

Lorn Macneal – St Andrews Court, Gullane


Housing Development of the Year (private builders) sponsored by Cupa Pizarras

Barratt Homes – Castlewell, Aberdeenshire


House of the Year

CALA Homes (West) Ltd – The Darroch at Earl’s View, Woodilee Village, Lenzie


Rural Development of the Year sponsored by the Scotsman

North Ayrshire Council – St Beya Gardens, Isle of Cumbrae


Sales & Marketing Excellence Award sponsored by Wolffe

Springfield Properties


Senior Living Development of the Year

North Ayrshire Council – St Beya Gardens, Isle of Cumbrae


Show Home of the Year sponsored by Designer Contracts

CALA Homes (East) Ltd – The McRae, Gilsland Grange, North Berwick


Starter Home of the Year sponsored by Ross and Liddell

City Legacy – The Thistle at the Athletes Village, Glasgow


Small Housing Association of the Year

Craigdale Housing Association


Housing Association of the Year

Caledonia Housing Association


Small House Builder of the Year sponsored by Close Brothers

S1 Developments


House Builder of the Year sponsored by Space and Time Media

Springfield Properties


For images of the event and further information, please contact:

Kirsten Speirs or Kelly Manthorp KDMedia Ltd 0131 337 6232/ 07810434204



An inclusive room for Ali

Posted on: May 17th, 2014


Previous Image
Next Image

info heading

info content




enable 3

Posted on: May 17th, 2014

This is just a test post

enable 2

Posted on: May 17th, 2014

This is just a test post

Inspirational Design: Scottish Government

Posted on: December 19th, 2013

Good to be included in Scottish Government’s inspirational designs webpage



good news

Posted on: October 3rd, 2013

we have just been granted planning for a painting / potting room in Morningside, a really nice project to work on, giving a boy a new inside-outside place to play


how to find us for doors open day

Posted on: September 26th, 2013

directions ramp house

one shiny saltire plaque on the wall of the ramp house

Posted on: September 10th, 2013
saltire plaque

saltire plaque

We are delighted to have won a Saltire Housing Award for our Ramp House – it is now shining on the caithness wall at the front door. Here is what Lesley Riddoch, Chair of the Judging Panel said:

“We admired your determination to fit a house round you – not the other way round. You took a pint pot of a site and cleverly built a house just high enough to “borrow” views of all the fabulous gardens around. You created a house with a common way of moving about – not isolating your daughter into lifts and hoists and it works beautifully. Connecting with one another via the ramps inside you also connect directly with the street outside via that lovely wee breakfast window. The whole house breathes confidence in its location, in one another and in your neighbours. Wonderful.”


Saltire Housing Awards Shortlist

Posted on: August 30th, 2013

saltire society



We’ve just had the great news that The Ramp House has been shortlisted for the Saltire Housing Awards single dwelling.


Here is the press release:


Lesley Riddoch Unveils Saltire Awards Shortlist…With Scottish Minister Set to Present the Accolades


Saltire Society Housing Design Awards Guest Chair Lesley Riddoch has announced a diverse awards shortlist for 2013, with the scheme enjoying another year of encouraging submissions from across Scotland’s innovative housing stock.


The Society has also revealed that Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Minister for Housing and Welfare- Margaret Burgess MSP – will present the gongs at the 76th annual ceremony later this year.


The Society stated its delight at sustaining the quality of submission from previous Awards despite the hard times the housing market has seen in recent years. With schemes as remote as a striking new-build in Kilmaluag, Skye by Rural Design; and as diverse an Artist’s Residence, gallery and workshop in one by Fergus Purdie Architects up for the Awards.


The Society also reported that one of the shortlisted schemes was an affordable housing project within a wider regeneration initiative in Govan Glasgow, a progression that allies with their Housing Design Awards’ mission to encourage better quality housing and neighbourhoods for everyone in Scotland.


The 2013 shortlist for the new Innovation in Housing Award has also been revealed, and includes examples of innovation in the development of volume housing building and inner city residential neighbourhoods to better meet the needs of current and future residents. The award encourages original thinking in housing design and delivery in Scotland.


Welcoming the 2013 Shortlist, Ms Riddoch– who will select and present the Saltire Medal to her favourite project from this year’s entries – gave her reaction to this year’s submissions: “I was really impressed with the herculean effort shortlisted clients were prepared to put into creating a real home not just four walls and a roof. One couple chose to squeeze into a tiny, unlikely mews site and create an entirely stair-free, ramped interior to let their wheelchair-using daughter stay near friends and town facilities and have equal access throughout the building. Another combined an urban plot used by two different owners to build a unique three-storey house/gallery/office accessed only by outside stairs and yet another battled planners for almost a decade to build an extension beyond the original footprint of an old mill. One family used recycled material throughout – including old railways sleepers in the garden; another transformed hard-to-use attic rooms with bold dormer windows. All have shown that amazing, sustainable, bespoke homes lie within the reach of many Scots.”


Jim Tough, Executive Director of the Saltire Society said of the Awards in relationship to the Saltire Society’s aspirations:

‘We are delighted with the response to this long standing and influential commitment to encouraging and celebrating the very best design in the places we call home.’

The full 2013 Saltire Society Housing Design Awards Shortlist is as follows:


Large Scale Housing Development

– Dunsmuir Street, Govan: Anderson Bell + Christie Architects


Small Scale Housing Development

Bridge of Dye, Banchory: NORD Architecture


Alterations, renovations and extensions

– Little Ennochie, Finzean, Banchory:Michael Rasmussen Associates

– Westbourne Drive, Bearsden: NORD Architecture

– Grange Loan, Edinburgh: Helen Lucas Architects


Single Dwelling – New Build

The Ramp House, Portobello: Chambers McMillan Architects

– Artists Residence, Perth: Fergus Purdie Architects

– Passive House, North Berwick: Brennan & Wilson Architects

– Turf House, Kilmaluag, Skye: Rural Design


Innovation in Housing Award

– Stewart Milne Group Design Guide

– South Seeds Energy Snapshot Report




An Award to the value of £1500 will be made for a work of art and/or craft designed to enhance and enrich the built environment (in its broadest sense). Student artists and craftsmen working in any suitable medium were invited to enter a graduation piece for the 2013 award by nomination. The Award endeavours to enable the winner to pursue a research project, including international travel related to their practice. The winner will also receive an Award certificate and membership of the Society. The shortlisted candidates are;

Allison Secker                                      The Scott Sutherland School of Architecture

Anna Barbieri, Andy Casey,

Chlose Fawcett, Sniedze Riekstina    Glasgow School of Art

Marcus Rothnie                                   Edinburgh College of Art

Louise Paterson                                  University of Dundee

Lisa Irvine                                           University of Strathclyde


This inaugural award is granted through the generous sponsorship of the British Council Scotland.



The awards will be announced at a ceremony at the Lighthouse, Mitchell Lane, Glasgow on Monday 9th September 2013


There will also be an exhibition of the shortlisted projects at the Lighthouse from 4th September until 16th October 2013.


For more information on the awards, the Saltire Society, and the judging panel please visit:





Notes for Editors


Further images of shortlisted projects are available from Sarah Mason and Fergus Bruce.

Image copyright exists where expressed.


About the Awards

Our Housing Design Awards have been rewarding and advocating innovation and excellence in Scottish house building and place-making for longer than any other design awards in Scotland. They are a highly regarded, long-standing example of the Society’s commitments, aims and objectives.


Intended for Owners, Clients, Architects, House-builders and Housing Developers of all shapes and sizes, the length and breadth of Scotland – the awards have recognised everything from single dwellings in the remotest reaches of the Highlands, to large-scale commercial developments in the country’s major urban centres.

Successful entrants agree that recognition by the Society’s panel of industry leaders is a major enhancement to their image and profile, and a ringing endorsement of their work.


2013 marks the awards’ 76th anniversary, having been the very first Awards scheme initiated by the Society. Far from just glancing backwards at this proud history however, the awards have in recent years been re-imagined in a Scotland where the need to promote good design and housing for all is just as immediate as it was in the 1930s. We are once again looking forward, and seeking new entries from across Scotland.


About the Saltire Society

We believe we have an important and unique role to play, as an independent advocate and celebrant of all that is good and important about our cultural lives and achievements. We are working hard to refresh our work fit for changing times. The Society has played a crucial role over the last seventy five years, at times as a lone voice, in recognising our cultural achievement. And while times have changed the need for that independent voice remains.


We are;


About the British Council

British Council Scotland was established in 1946 in Edinburgh, with the purpose of promoting the best of Scottish culture and learning to the rest of the world; bringing foreign academics, engineers, students, policymakers and artists to Scotland and taking their Scottish counterparts abroad. Today our mission remains to promote Scotland’s cultural and educational assets on the international stage, with the objective of building enduring relationships and trust between the peoples of Scotland and other countries through an exchange of ideas, knowledge and information. 

British Council Scotland has global reach through a network of offices in 110 countries around the world.  It can pull together overseas knowledge, experience, views and perspectives, catalyse relationships, and provide confident comments on issues affecting Scotland’s profile and standing on the international stage.  And its overseas offices are a source of support and assistance in-country to visiting cultural and educational envoys from Scotland; knowing who the key players and most relevant institutions are.

Some great examples of how architecture for all enriches public spaces

Posted on: July 1st, 2013

accessible levels CPH baccessible space CPH caccessible levels CPH a

Scottish Design Awards 2013

Posted on: May 31st, 2013
Scottish Design Awards 2013 – At this years award ceremony at the Radison Blu in Glasgow, we were absoloutely delighted to be first up on the stage and the winners of ‘Residential’ category for our wheelchair accessible family home:  The Ramp House.  Later on in the evening all the winners of architectural awards were put forward for the Chairmans Award for Architecture – Given the exceptional standard of all the work and the renown architectural practices, we were totally overwhelmed, and absolutely delighted, to also win this award.

Wood Awards 2013

Posted on: May 14th, 2013

A nice reminder that the wood awards are still open to submissions: not sure if they included our (already submitted) Ramp House as a challenge (beat this) or as a provocation (this is all we have so far). Either way its a bit of publicity, so we are not complaining. Ian’s entry was written from Greta’s point of view: the touch, sound and smell of the wood being just as important as how it looks: towards a sensory architecture.

Wood Awards Mailshot

This Life – Homes and Interiors Scotland

Posted on: April 26th, 2013

Stroll along to your nearest newsagent in the friday lunchtime sun, and pick up the new copy of Homes and Interiors Scotland. We are in the first feature, This Life, five double page spreads. The best bit was answering their questions and answers:

Edinburgh’s best kept secret: The Skylark restaurant and bar on the High Street: its Manhattan meets Portobello.

Seeking inspiration: we walk along Portobello beach. Our morning coffee stop is the Beach House Cafe – the sea view is fabulous after the school drop off.

Ramp House_Homes and Interiors May_June 2013


New website launched!

Posted on: April 25th, 2013

Just to announce that chambersmcmillan has a shiny new website! It’s another step in our transition from a ‘back of the envelope’ idea, to a fully fledged business.  The website incorporates much of the great content from our previous sites and blogs, with some more business and client-focused elements. We very much hope you like it!



chambersmcmillan website

Awards Season

Posted on: March 19th, 2013

Chambers McMillan are delighted that the Ramp House has been short listed for both Edinburgh Architecture Association and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors Awards. Nail biting times…..

20130319-130327.jpgimage David Barbour

Architects Journal Article

Posted on: March 8th, 2013

Greta – the busy life of an eight year old

Posted on: March 8th, 2013

Greta compilation 2


Posted on: January 11th, 2013

Having just built our accessible family home, now seemed like as good a time as any to start up : we see every day how important it is that the built environment is made accessible to all, and so this has become our aim. Since moving in, we have had so many comments from friends and visitors that the ramp makes the house: on the one hand that they are not aware of it being an obviously ‘accessible’ house, but on the other hand how wonderful it is to have a ramp in a house (and could they have one too?). I think it is because the ramp makes you move around the house differently, and also because of the way that we have designed spaces off the ramp, these spaces connect, both visually and physically, differently. Its is proving to be a great house for children and a great party house: so many different places to stand and sit, whilst always being able to see who is there, and who is talking to whom.

So the idea that we could design spaces which are not only accessible to all, but also richer because of it, is a beginning for chambersmcmillan, and at the moment a very exciting thought. Since building our work desk last weekend, I have photographed (and Facebook posted) an image of the desk every day: I hope that this will document our progression, starting from an empty desk, lets see where this takes us.

day 1

day 1

day 2


day 3


day 4 cmcm


day 1b day 1a

2 new colleagues

2 new colleagues

finally in

Posted on: December 14th, 2012

able Greta build house

Posted on: September 28th, 2012



Posted on: September 28th, 2012


nearly a home

Posted on: September 7th, 2012
Seven months down and two to go!  The site is feeling very active and busy with lots of different trades now on site.  This Wednesday had over a dozen busy bees set about their various tasks.  On the outside, the slate and the saranfil single ply membrane roof are now complete and all the windows are fitted.   The external stonework is about half way there.  It’s fitting into the context really well, as the stone has a good variation of colour.  The 25mm recessed pointing really picks out the horizontality of the stone and Beatrice’s coursing works really well.   The red cedar timber shingles, and their aroma, are on site and tantalisingly stacked up in the car port, and will start to go on next week after the flashings have been delivered and fixed.  The copper on the tower again will start next week.  The aim is for the scaffolding to be down in 3 weeks time which will be very exciting.  Internally, the ramp has been completed, and there is a real spatial delight in moving through a space in a changing vertical position.  The air guard system is being fixed and sealed, and will minimise any air leakage and associated heat loss.  From what looked like a simple and compact electrical system, a spaghetti like network of cables af first fix has evolved.  Internal partitions are also going up and being sheeted, starting to sculpt and refine the space into a hierarchy.  This week has also seen blacksmiths on site in the form of Ian’s Dad, making all the internal and external balustrades out of the 250kg of cold rolled 6m steel length which were mistakenly delivered to our house and had to be stored for a week in the back garden.  The first section of the metalwork is complete, with a simple staggered hit miss repeat of circular and flat bar, which gives an additional dynamic when moving along the ramp.
So all we need now is some moving boxes!

week 29

Posted on: August 24th, 2012

here is the 3D image from the beginning of the week. I will publish another one at the weekend of how it looks now, for a spot the difference. If you can look at this on an iPad /Pod / Phone it feels like you are in the space.

Upstairs at last

Posted on: July 5th, 2012








photosynth week 14

Posted on: May 24th, 2012

Imagelook at this on an iPhone or iPad through the photosynth app to stand right in the middle of our build

Just squeezed past

Posted on: April 25th, 2012

Our enormous crane left the site this morning: amazing driving with just millimetres to spare in our very tight and bendy lane. They only needed three days to get the whole steel frame erected. Over that time we kept meeting people who could see the crane from their kitchen, sitting room, garden; luckily our house won’t be as prominent on the Portobello skyline (although hopefully just high enough to sneak a sea view).
Steel frame photos to follow tomorrow: we have now been in every room on our ground floor.

Woolly house

Posted on: March 29th, 2012


keep on digging

Posted on: March 29th, 2012

keep on digging

belt and braces

Posted on: March 3rd, 2012

steel frame

Guest Blogger Ian McMillan: The first issue of the steel contractor’s drawings have come in for checking after only 22 Formal TQ’s and 14 phone call queries (whilst on holiday in Cheltenham).  There are one or two minor issues we’ve picked up from the drawings – as usual it’s cross bracing (engineers like a lot of this and architects never want any) and connection details.
We had looked at a timber frame, with steel sections – which became a hybrid solution which started to become overcomplex, so we investigated an engineered timber solution which couldn’t be guaranteed to achieve what we needed, so we had to bite the bullet and go for a full steel frame.  It’s not so uncommon on mainland Europe where steel and in particular concrete framed solutions are the norm – but then again they do expect their housing to last more than 25 years.
There are 8 tons of steel being used, which is much more than you would normally expect for a new build this size.  The primary reason is that the ramp cuts through most of the structural lines, and the extend of glazing and large open plan spaces which we needed to do in order to maximise the daylight and spatial flow and connectivity within such a small plot size.  Then when you have a steel frame you might as well use it to its full potential – and introduce cantilevers.

How big is it really?

Posted on: November 13th, 2011

McMillan demolition

The moment of truth is approaching: tomorrow we will knock down the large concrete shed on our site and find out the real size of our site. People keep telling us that it will seem massive once it is just flattened ground, but of course we keep remembering that we will then be building a house on it, so it won’t stay that way.

Bee steam roller

McMillan steam roller

Arthur's shed

Helping Arthur clear out his shed on Saturday felt like an important moment for us all: lots of memories for him, and being on the verge of something new for us. When the building was finally empty, it had a certain poignance, marks and traces of the things that had happened there were all that was left. And a summerhouse full of salvaged pieces: the ATHarris sign will take pride of place at the top of the ramp: a space that we can only imagine just now.


empty shed

empty shed


diggers are here!

Posted on: November 3rd, 2011

The diggers are here and there’s a great big hole in front of our site. It may not be work on our ground, but its the first sign of ground being shifted and clearly something is going to happen here. And once the power and water are in the ground, we will be able to demolish the building which currently takes up 1/3rd of the site. Then we will have a blank canvas, or as blank as earth, sand and concrete, can be.

services inspection by the two site managers

Yesterday a two year old friend who I had recently given a toy digger to, watched mesmerised as I showed him the film of the real diggers on my iphone: hopefully he will come and visit the site soon and see the real thing. Bee and Greta visited the site, and Bee’s immediate reaction was to jump into the trench: I’m not sure what Itec’s health and safety officer would say about that, they seem slightly bemused by the sporadic waves of family and friends visiting. But I liked Bee’s instinctive reaction to be a part of the project.

first hole in the ground

Itec are the company charged with taking out the earth, putting in pipes and ducts, then putting all the earth back in, and they are great; they know exactly what they are doing, and don’t mind taking the time to explain it all to me. For example the difference between 63mm water pipe, and 63mm MDPE barrier pipe (its the red stripe along the blue pipe). My learning curve as an architect is going to be a steep one this next year.

Bellfield Lane

Something Momentous

Posted on: July 11th, 2011
Thanks to Alan

Bellfield Wood

The problem with a blog is knowing when to start. Sometimes projects just seem to appear, and before you know it you are right in the middle of them and all their complexities. Then you wait for something momentous to happen, big enough to make a first entry in a blog, to capture all your friends and family’s attention, but the moment never quite seems big enough.

Finding our idiosyncratically shaped piece of land certainly would have been, but that happened way back in January 2010, and at the time we were so nervous that it somehow wasn’t going to work out; we couldn’t believe our luck, finding somewhere to build right in the centre of the community that our girls had been growing up in for the last 6 years, and even better finding someone willing to sell us that piece of land (link to story of how we found Arthur / Bellfield)

Or finally securing a mortgage which would make this project work financially, after hours spent on the phone, telling our life story, explaining that we were not just idealistic dreamers wanting our own house, or hard nosed developers, but were doing this to give our daughter a supportive environment that she could use and would help her grow and learn.

Then there was the party when we finally bought the land and all our friends and their children came and helped us drink champagne and eat sausages and strawberries (link to photos).

But I think tomorrow is finally going to be momentous enough, or urgent enough, for me to start this blog: the diggers are coming to break the ground in the road leading to our house, and to bring us power and water: you don’t get more symbolic than that.