RIAS Awards 2022 – High Sunderland wins Conservation Award

Loader Monteith’s restoration of High Sunderland – one of Scotland’s most important post-war private houses – has been named as the winner of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland’s Conservation Award.

High Sunderland is a 1957 Category A-listed modernist icon designed by Peter Womersley. Its future was in jeopardy following a fire in 2017 until its new owners Juliet Kinchin and Paul Stirton – both Scottish historians or architecture and design – appointed Loader Monteith to undertake an extraordinarily careful and skilful restoration. The result combines a forensic approach to building conservation and reuse, while improving High Sunderland’s energy performance.

Loader Monteith forensically sifted through the debris of the fire-damaged building, recording the entire structure and salvaging as much of the original material as possible – both for re-use and future reference. Original walnut panels, fitted furniture, timber floors, wall finishes and ceilings were all saved. The opportunity was also taken to enhance the building’s energy efficiency, with new sustainable systems tucked away out of sight within the fabric of the building. Where necessary, Loader Monteith made extremely careful new interventions that balanced conservation with modern building regulations – for instance studying Peter Womersley’s work elsewhere to design a new pitched roof that could accommodate new insulation while remaining true to the spirit of its architecture.

Christina Gaiger PRIAS, President of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland said:

“Upgrading the energy efficiency of Scotland’s housing stock is imperative if we are to get anywhere close to meeting our zero net carbon targets. High Sunderland, therefore, is a project that should give us great hope. Loader Monteith, together with their fantastic clients, have demonstrated how it is possible to conserve the historic fabric and character of such a hugely important building, while transforming its energy performance. It sets an extraordinarily high standard for historic building conservation and sustainable retrofit, and is therefore a hugely deserving winner of the 2022 RIAS Conservation Award.”