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


We are delighted that our compact accessible courtyard house in Kelso has been shortlisted for the small projects Edinburgh Architectural Association Awards. We really enjoyed working on this project, with a very involved client, converting what was a church hall, then a nursery, into a compact accessible home, where the courtyard formed brings light into all spaces in the plan, and provides direct connection to occupiable outside  space.

Spaces that connect to the outside have become all the more valuable in this time of lockdown and staying home. The ramp in our house had created spaces which are tucked away, with lower head heights: perfect for wheelchair users and children. One of them was designed as a ‘snoozeln’, a sensory light room for Greta. More recently it has been a store room for Greta’s art stock. This time spent exploring how to make the most of all the spaces in our house, enabled us to clear this out and re-occupy it with a built in bench, traffic purple (chambersmcmillan branding!) walls and lights which had been hiding in there all along. The delightful discovery was that the long space connection between the snoozeln, the wide sliding window space and the lane becomes a unified space in itself which can be enjoyed on sunny mornings, and re-connects us to the front of the house, a connection which we are really missing. Its a reminder that there are always spaces which can be re-occupied in any house, and they can be even more special because they have been there all along.

Discovering new spaces during the lockdown.

Being part of the 8 O’clock NHS clap yesterday made me think about how we are using our spaces, both public and private, so differently at the moment. We opened our physio space window, so that we shared a space with the tenements on Marlborough street, and the houses on our side of Marlborough street, which have adjoining gardens to ours. Usually the tenements seem a long way away, but the communal activity of collectively thanking the NHS (at a time when there is such a restriction on communal activities) made an unusual public space, both horizontally, and sectionally. Each of the bay windows (a valuable space that sits between public and private) were opened and people leaned out to be part of the aural cheer of encouragement and gratitude, making a new public space of connection that we need so much at this time.

I have noticed during the lockdown how people are drawn to their windows, which suddenly become connecting places to the outside world, the sun, fresh air, gazing into the distance, waving at a neighbour.  In the Ramp house, we have been looking at all our windows, and working out how to use them better. Some of this just involves moving piles of books, so that the flow between inside and outside works again. We have also looked at windows that can be occupied for different activities – sometimes putting a cushion on the window sill, to remember to sit there, sometimes more building work is needed like in our attic space “Little Venice” (more in a future blog), but all the kind of building we can do during lockdown, re-using building materials we might have otherwise discarded (Greta loves nothing better than ratcheting old screws out of old timber, to be used again). 

My favourite occupation of window space so far is the corner greenhouse window, where we are growing sweet peas, broad beans and one pea (from a packet that was 6 years old!). The green inside the corner window connects the eye to our neighbour’s wonderful wild garden we look onto. Best of all, every day, in this lockdown that is counted in days, there is change. The seedlings and plants never look the same: each day they reach closer to the sun, and looking to the future, they will continue to change and grow, and reach for the sun. 


During these difficult times Chambers McMillan Architects are still able to work from our studio, adjacent to our home, and are continuing to progress projects, the only limitations being the on site stage.  Meetings will be virtual, but we are happy to hear from you:  design process on new projects can be via FaceTime,  Skype, or Zoom.