Marlaw - "The Lawlor House"
When Mark and Natalie Lawlor first heard, over a chance dinner conversation with a friend in a Glasgow restaurant, that this vacant site in West Pollokshields was still up for sale, they believed fate had intervened.
At the time the couple were planning their relocation from Kirknewton in Midothian to Glasgow, and had been viewing properties in Pollokshields, an area they had fallen in love with and which had become their desired place of residence. The architectural heritage and the quiet, wide, tree-lined streets of this unique garden suburb, combined with the added bonus of its proximity to all amenities: city centre, motorways and airport, made it an ideal choice for their busy lifestyle, business needs, extended family and sense of urban architectural taste.
Early concept sketch
Yet they had also for some time held a dream of designing their own home, inspired by their love of classical modern architecture combined with a love of Spanish lifestyles: family-oriented spaces, daily swimming, and the pleasure of entertaining. Taking inspiration from timeless house design such as “Fallingwater” by the iconic American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, later echoed in the Lawlor House design, combined with a clear sense of what they wanted in terms of brief and requirements, the couple set out on their brave mission.
After purchasing the site they spent invaluable time researching the work of contemporary Scottish architects through the recommendation of a friend and by contacting the Lighthouse. Their criteria, which included clean, geometric lines and a timeless design, led them to Gareth Hoskins Architects (GHA), in particular through seeing the architects’ solution for The Duncan House, in Kinloch, Fife, for a private client, which seemed to synergise with the Lawlors’ own sense of style and design requirements. Thomas Johnstone, the Scottish contractors who won the tender, with their well-known attention to detail, built the house in close collaboration with Gareth Hoskins Project Architect Alistair Tooze, the project overseen by GHA Director Chris Coleman-Smith.
Working closely together and in perfect harmony - both client and architect say this - the Lawlors and GHA made the dream become a reality in the shape and form of a truly stunning dwelling for the 21st Century and a contemporary interpretation of the ‘Grand Villa’, so much a part of Pollokshields tradition. The villa enhances the fabric of the neighbourhood and promotes the maintenance of the character and quality of this splendid suburb.
The new villa, which externally features sliding panels of buff limestone, render and glass contained within a folding precast concrete band, sits on a steeply sloping site, bounded on three sides by existing gardens, with a wooded public park on the western boundary. To avoid ‘overlooking’, accommodation is arranged around the private courtyard gardens that terrace down to the front entrance in response to the site slope. The line of the boundary wall continues into the main body of the building with a frameless glass wall, to form a covered entrance.
Set within the former orchard area of the adjacent ‘A’ listed Grand Villa, Beneffrey, one of the last and largest Edwardian villas to be developed in Pollokshields, in 1910, this modern villa, developed exactly one hundred years later in 2010, complements its neighbour by reflecting its “U” shape plan, yet has very much its own sense of place. Each villa is designed around its own private central courtyard setting, the courtyard in the Lawlor House being in the brief from the start, and both villas proudly facing each other with confidence, style and quality. Each features fine detail in the use of materials: stone, timber, glass and plasterwork.
Axonometric of Site and Access
Steps continue from the landscaped courtyards through the family living areas, linking internal and outside spaces. The building sits at the heart of the site, set back from the public park to create a clear approach and line of security. The existing listed boundary wall line is continued from the Avenue into the main body of the building to form a covered entrance area. Light has been maximised in the double height reception area and entertainment suite with cantilevered walnut staircases and a glazed lift providing access to bedroom suites.
Exterior Views of Entrance
Private Courtyard Gardens
The master bedroom on the third floor cantilevers over the drive and opens onto a south-facing roof terrace in response to the client's requirement for sunlight & views across Pollok Park and the distant hills. As well as six bedrooms with en suites and dressing rooms, accommodation required includes a fitness suite with pool, gym, sauna and steam room, a fully glazed family living / dining area and entertainment suite. The design includes a ground source heat pump, insulation exceeding building regulation requirements and sedum roof.
The villa is designed to allow separate access from the double height reception hall to both public and private areas. The private family wing, where their extended family frequently visits to stay, provides controlled ground and upper level access to the public area, a magnificent double height entertaining space with access directly to the entrance and to the pool and gym via the courtyard. The pool has controlled climate temperature and the decision was taken not to have a door directly from the pool out onto the courtyard in order to ensure that temperature control was not compromised.
Section through Master Bedroom
Section through Entertainment Space & Pool/Fitness Suite
Throughout the villa neutral colours and the simple, clean lines of natural Jura limestone, slate cladding, walnut and glass ensure a classic interior. Clever use of lighting inside and out, wi-fi and sound technology, fireplaces, gallery walkways and soft furnishings means a dinner party for four is as intimate as a party for a hundred guests. Even in the double height of the entertaining area, a sense of intimacy prevails.
Natalie spent time lovingly sourcing the interior fixtures and fittings, bringing her knowledge of good design to bear: clean geometric lines, neutral cool tones, complementary yet individual style throughout, combining leather, stone and glass with natural rich textured timbers. Natalie visited the Porcelanosa headquarters in Villareal, Spain, and carefully selected the fixtures and finishes that run throughout the villa, from the kitchen fittings to the unique bathroom solutions. Each bedroom is self-contained with its own south-facing balcony and unique bathroom design en suite, including “his and hers” in the master bedroom suite, The huge range of choices in the Porselanosa catalogue means each one is different yet harmonious in terms of style, tone and materials. Being able to chat to family or guests while cooking was a “must”, and the family living area succeeds in this superbly, while the offset adjacent TV room is unobtrusive yet very accessible to the open plan sitting/dining/kitchen area. Her excellent taste is reflected in the Italian elegant Natuzzi leather furniture, Roche Bobois lamps, fly bar stools by Calligaris, and unique objets d’art throughout, including a limited edition sculpture in the main reception hall, “Gravity”, designed by the acclaimed Italian sculptor Lorenzo Quinn, Anthony Quinn’s son.
Living Area - view to TV Room & Stairs to Bedroom Suite Living Area - view to Kitchen/Dining
Calligaris Fly Bar Stools in Kitchen
Entertainment Suite Guest Bedroom
Entrance Reception Stairs from Bedroom Suite
Cantilevered timber staircases with structural glass balustrades and a glazed lift maximise light in the double height reception area whilst providing access to bedroom suites. The cantilevered stair glass balustrade detail was designed by IPIG, specialists in glass engineering.
Natalie, who welcomes visitors with open arms, says this is to be their home for life and a dream come true. “That’s why we put in the lift” she says. “So we can still be living here when we are old!” Pollokshields Heritage welcomes the Lawlors and their beautiful home, now part of our Heritage tours, and applauds their brave and bold work in keeping alive the tradition of innovative house design in Pollokshields. Both client and architects described this as a “dream project” and this shows in the final solution: a Grand Villa in perfect harmony with itself and its surrounding environment.
Clients: Mark and Natalie Lawlor
Architects: Architects: Gareth Hoskins Architects; Lucy Beltran Dos Santos, Chris Coleman-Smith, Marja Eden, Gareth Hoskins, Graeme Nicholls, Alasdair Tooze.
Photography: Andrew Lee; Natalie Lawlor
Article: Helen McNamara for Pollokshields Heritage: February 2012