Ann Nisbet Studio


The Ghost of Water Row, Govan

Ghost of Water Row Govan RIAS Winner

Ghost of Water Row Govan RIAS Winner

Ghost of Water Row Govan RIAS Winner

The Ghost of Water Row, Govan

Blurring the boundary between architecture and research-based, site-specific art, the Ghost of Water Row is an example of architecture’s capacity to provide cultural and historical commentary.  On 5 November 2012, celebrating the 100th anniversary of Govan joining Glasgow, the Ghost of Water Row stood for one night on the footprint of houses that once flanked the old route to the river.  The project celebrated the historical importance of Water Row in terms of Govan’s links to the river through its form, while also referencing its past industry in its fabric.  At the ghost and at related events held on that night including film and procession, visitors engaged with the past and were challenged to think about the evolving built environment of Govan and their own sense of identity in relation to the place.

The Ghost is a distillation of four buildings that sat on Water Row between 1700 and 1912.  It draws upon the proportions and nature of what was the Ferry Inn and weavers cottages.  Water Row consisted of a number of such buildings which sat in a gentle relationship to what was first a natural crossing or fording point of the river and later a sandstone slipway, now buried, offering flush access to the water. It was designed to appear in the dark and disappear in the daylight.  The temporary pavilion is made of pale Scottish spruce and patterned lace of pure cotton; the latter reflecting a time when Govan was dominated by the weaving industry.  Govan’s hand loom weavers ceased in early 1900 to make way for shipbuilding.  The pattern of the lace on the Ghost was taken from Flemish trade on the River Clyde.  It is known as “Guirlandes” (garlands). The pattern was moved from hand looming to mechanised looming and remains in production by MYB textiles in Ayrshire.

The Ghost of Water Row was built as part of a community engagement project and coincided with commemorative celebrations for the late Glaswegian sculptor George Wylie.   100 visitors participated in a lantern procession which was intended to evoke the ancient route to the river and the crossing.  The visitors were led behind a question mark made by George Wylie from Govan Old church to the ghost, whereupon  the ghost was used as a heritage engagement tool.  (Wylie’s public artworks made statements and asked questions about the past and future of Clydeside, so his symbol was seen to be a fitting banner for the evening’s events.)

The project won a prestigious RIAS Architecture Award and has been shortlisted for the Arts and Business Scotland Awards and Andrew Doolan Prize.

Lesley Riddoch commented, “I suspect we have just witnessed the controversial award of the night. As I understand it this project was initiated by the architects and has helped unite its community. In my view that’s one of the things architects are uniquely placed to do. I suspect that is what prompted the judges to recognise this extraordinary project.”

The project was developed in collaboration with Andrew McAvoy of through the firm of Edo Architecture, other collaborators included Joshua Brown, MYB Textiles and Fablevision. The project was generously supported by BSW Timber and Arts and Business Scotland.

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Rural Barn House: Lochaber, Highlands

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Rural Barn House

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Rural Barn House

Ann Nisbet Studio was commissioned to design a new rural house on the site of an existing dilapidated corrugated barn near Fort William in the West Coast Highlands. The site is located next to an existing white house on an elevated position, on a functioning croft, over looking Locheil.

It was important that the new building was kept low in the landscape and subservient to the existing white house; To achieve this the new house references the former agricultural shed, is designed on a single level and is asymmetrical in form, rising towards the rear of the site.

The new three bedroom house is clad in timber and aluminium, referencing two of the main industries of the Lochaber area. There are a number of external covered areas that allow the clients to sit outside and enjoy the view, while being sheltered from the elements.

The house has solar panels for hot water and is heated via a ground source heat pump and wood burning stove.

Area 160sqm   Due to Commence on site: Autumn 2020   Client: Private

Locheil House: Lochaber




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Locheil House: Lochaber

We were commissioned to design a new rural house on a croft in the West Coast Highlands. The site has incredible views over Locheil towards Ben Nevis, but also has several houses located in close proximity. Part of the design brief was to focus the building on the views, while retaining privacy and avoiding being over looked.

The new houses draws on the form and proportions of the former township dwellings and the traditional barns found in Lochaber.

The new three bedroom house is clad in timber and Aluminium that reference two of the main industries of the area. The house has two external covered areas, which allow the clients to sit outside and enjoy the view of the loch and mountains, while being sheltered from the elements and retaining their privacy.

How to Find a Rural Building Plot

plot for saleDon’t underestimate the time it takes to find your perfect site, it’s often the most time consuming aspect of a self-build project. It’s also the most important decisions you’ll make as it will impact on the design, the cost and logistics. So how do you go about finding a Rural housing Plot?

Estate Agents

National and local estate agents will list plots for sale. It’s worth contacting them and adding yourself to their mail list so that you are kept up-dated when new sites are advertised.

Other Websites

There are  several online sites that advertise plots for sale. Plot Finder and Build Store  are some of the largest but there are also sites like Wreck of the Week, which lists derelict buildings and renovation opportunities throughout the UK


Make sure you check the local newspaper or local magazine where you would like to buy a site. A local landowner may advertise a site for sale via the local newspaper.

Our Mailing List

You can join our mailing list as we often send out a newsletter if one of our clients are selling a plot or site with outline or full planning permission.

Approach Land Owner Directly

If you have a specific area in mind then it may be worth while approaching a local farmer, crofter or land owner to see if they would be interested in selling you a piece of land.

The Govan Fair

After the completion of the “Ghost of Water Row” Project, it was suggested that we took the project through the streets of Govan, as part of the Govan Fair. The Fair itself is the oldest community fair in the City of Glasgow and dates back to 1756, when it was established by the Govan Weavers Society. Since then the Fair and Parade has always taken place on the first Friday of June. The project was developed in collaboration with Andrew McAvoy through the firm of Edo Architecture.

 (c) Photograph copyright Ann Nisbet


Image (c) Ann nisbet

The Times: June 18 2011

Four star review of the “Drawing (on) Riverside Exhibition in the Times Newspaper. The exhibition at Kelvingrove Art Gallery included our Propping Through Riverside” Installation, which was created in collaboration with Artist Patricia Cain.

Patricia Cain The Times 18-06-11



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Before Buying a Rural Plot


If you’re in the process of looking for a plot to build a new home then it can be both an exciting and daunting process. To help you, we’ve put a together a few points to keep in mind when assessing a potential plot.

How do you access the site?

A long access road can be very costly and add significantly to your budget, while a shorter more level access will be considerably cheaper. If there is an existing access road to the site assess whether it’s suitable for a large lorry or construction vehicles delivering materials for example a timber frame or steel work to site.

What about services?

Some sites are available serviced, which means that there is a water connection and electrical connection on site. However many others in remoter areas do not.

If the plot you are looking at is un-serviced check if there is a mains water connection near the site. If there is no mains water in the area you may have to look at a private supply or borehole, which can add additional cost.

Likewise check that there is an electrical connection close to the site.  If the connection point is far away from the site it can also add to your budget.

Is there mains sewage connection available? Or will a private septic tank or treatment plant be required?

Ground Conditions

Assess the ground conditions carefully. It is possible to build on any ground condition but you don’t want most of your budget being used to get the building out of the ground!

The Site

A major part of the design of a bespoke house is a response to the site: the view, the topography, the orientation, the local vernacular, the local materials and trades. If you have a very strong idea of what you would like make sure the site is right for it. For example: if you want a house on one level don’t buy a steeply sloping site.

When you’ve found a site you’d like to purchase, contact the studio for an informal chat about the site or e-mail pictures and planning information through and we will happily look over the information and answer any questions you may have. Alternatively you could arrange for an architect to visit the site and produce a feasibility study.

Planning Permission

The studio has a wealth of experience in obtaining planning on both urban and rural sites and has developed a close working relationship with many Planning Authorities over the years.  We have extensive experience in working on sensitive sites such as National Scenic Areas and Woodlands, as well as designated Conservation areas.

We would always recommend a collaborative approach and believe that early pre planning discussions can reduce the cost of planning work and expedite timescales.

What is Planning Permission?

Construction of new buildings and extensive changes to existing buildings usually require consent from the local planning authority. Any development that involves the development of a new building, either a new build, conversion or sub-division requires planning permission. Extensions or outbuildings often require planning permission but this depends on their size and permitted development rights associated with the property.

Planning in Principal

Planning in Principal or Outline Planning Permission means that the local Planning Authority has given approval in principle for a house(s) to be built on the site, but the design of the house(s) has not yet been approved.

Detailed Planning Permission

Full Planning Consent gives approval for the design of the building. It also confirms where the house is to be sited, how water, sewage and storm water is dealt with, how the access is configured and any landscaping proposals. The local authority will consult with other statutory bodies, such as the roads department or water authority, during this application.

If the site is in a sensitive area such as in a Conservation area, National Scenic Area or in the curtilage of a listed or ancient monument then the local authority will have to consult with other bodies such as Historic Scotland or Scottish National Heritage. If your converting or refurbishing a listed building you may also require listed building consent.

Statutory Consent Fees

Whether you are applying for Planning in Principle or Full Planning Permission, these applications entail fees. Planning fees for a single house in Scotland are generally in the region of £401, In England £385 and in Wales £330. You may also require to pay an additional advertisement fee. Planning fees for extensions are less. These are normally between £100 – £200

How Long Does a Planning Application Take?

Planning Permission should take approximately eight weeks but it can take longer if your proposals are complex or the Planning Authority or Consultees require further information. The Planning Authority can refuse your Planning Application if they deem it to be unsuitable.

How Long Does Planning Consent Last?

Planning Permission is valid for normally three years from the date of the approval. Work must commence within this time period.

Local Planning Authorities

There are thirty two Planning Authorities and 2 National Park Authorities in Scotland click here for more information

Click here for more information on English and Welsh Planning Authorities and National Park Authorities

Building Warrant

Once you have Planning Permission the next stage of the project is the production of detailed drawings and the production of a Building Warrant Application.

What is Building Warrant?

A building warrant is permission granted by your local council. It details how your project will be constructed which should meet the current Building Regulation Standard Regulations.

What Does a Building Warrant Application Comprise of?

Your project must meet the current building standards. The building warrant submission will include a full set of detailed drawings, comprising of plans, sections, elevations and details showing details of the layout, materials, structure, electric, plumbing and other details of your building.  A Structural Engineer will be required to provide structural calculations, details and S.E.R Certificate and  U-value calculations and SAP test relating to the energy efficiency of the building will also require to be submitted. All of this information will be submitted to Building Standards as part of the building warrant application.

How Long Does Building Warrant Approval Take?

It normally takes around six weeks to receive building warrant, however on more complex projects this can take longer.

How Much Does a Building Warrant Application Cost?

The cost for a Building Warrant varies depending on the work required. The fee for the Building Warrant is based on the cost of the works to be carried out. The minimum fee payable for a building warrant is £100 this is based on a cost of work at £5000. The fee increases £15 for each additional £500 worth of works up to a value of £100,000. Click here for further information

How Long Does The Building Warrant Approval last for? 

The Building Warrant Approval lasts for three years.

Stance Cottage Renovation and Extension

Stance Cottage Bridge of Orchy

Stance Cottage Map

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 Stance Cottage renovation

Stance cottage is situated on the old drovers route from Fort William to the south. The drovers would stop in Bridge of Orchy and pay to ‘stance’ their cattle/sheep in the stance below the cottage. Over the last 150 years a shed or barn has continuously stood beside the cottage. These have been demolished and re-constructed several times since the cottage was built, and each have been used for many different functions, including the storage of hay and livestock. In recent years it’s been used as a store by the roads department, home to a classic car enthusiast and a training space for a local boxer. The existing shed was not only beautiful but contained an interesting narrative about the history of the site. It was decided that the story and tradition of the shed should continue to evolve.

The new extension would be designed within the existing footprint of the shed, and emulate its size and proportions, however this time it’s use was to be a contemporary extension to the cottage. The extension consisted of a horizontal clad connection – which contains the lobby, bathroom and kitchen – and the main shed form containing an open plan dining and living space – open to the apex – with a corner window over looking the River Orchy. Large glazed sliders open the living spaces up to the north, towards Glencoe and a Lone Rowan tree grows through the larch deck – kept due to the client’s superstitions.

The extension is timber frame construction, clad in both horizontal and vertical Scottish Larch, which was oiled black. The main extension is roofed in corrugated black steel, with the connecting flat roof being in alwitra – both in keeping with the original shed. The west gable of the extension is wrapped in a dry stonewall, which continues into the garden.

Marchhall Garden Extension


8 Marchhall Crescent is located over the top two floors of a traditional stone building in Prestonfield, Edinburgh. Access is via an internal staircase on the east elevation. An important aspect of the design brief was to provide both a visible entrance and a flexible garden room, connecting the house to the rear walled garden. The new extension provides a lobby, a pause space before ascending the stairs,  a double height living space opens up towards the south facing garden, maximising solar gain and providing a much needed connection with the outdoors.  *Project carried out while Principal at Dualchas Building Design.

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Marchhall - Garden Extension

The bright red door and aluminium canopy allows the entrance to be easily identified to visitors and passersby.

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