A new rural community within a mature woodland setting

Ochil Hills Hospital

The Victorians knew how to choose a healthy site. The Hospital, built in 1902 as a tuberculosis sanatorium, lies on the upper slopes of the eastern Ochils, north-west of Milnathort, The Victorian pre-antibiotic rationale of rest, good nutrition, sunshine and fresh air has much relevance for us today. Empty since the late 1980s, the main building and annexes were demolished in 2003.

Historic Rural Settlements

The historic clachans, villages and townships evident across the Scottish landscape are finely tuned to climate and landscape, whereas new housing development often neglects such simple principles. The clachan of Margdow in Perthshire, since demolished, or the old settlement of Swanston on the outskirts of Edinburgh, demonstrates built form embedded in landscape to create shelter and place. 

Such precedents inform the placemaking approach at Athron Hill

Two young women outside Ochil Hills Convalescent Hospital
Ochil Hills Convalescent Hospital (demolished in 2003).
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CLIENT / Athron Hill Dev. Co. Ltd

ARCHITECT / Malcolm Fraser Architects then Fraser/Livingstone Architects

Description / 35 homes on a part-brownfield site in the Perthshire hills

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thatched cottages swanston village scotland copy
Swanston Village, Edinburgh: a settlement embedded in the landscape.
Margdow, Perthshire at 1800 - site plan
Margdow, Perthshire (demolished): a clachan tuned to the local conditions. Image credit: Historic Environment Scotland.


The new infrastructure of roads, tracks, lighting and services are sensitively Integrated into the landscape. Existing culverted watercourses are opened to weave between the new homes. Roaming pathways are enhanced and a network of bridleways stitched across the hillside, exploiting the existing pond, woodland, surrounding fields and reservoir for the new community to share. Plots are then layered into this network of routes, adapting to the changing character across the site.


As at Margdow and Swanston, buildings are grouped in clusters, and gardens merge with roads to create a continuous rural ground plane. Building footprints are turned to present end gables to the distant view, avoiding a continuous built form on the rural skyline. Homes are viewed within trees, built form connecting to its landscape setting.

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FLA TEAM / Emma Henderson, Fredrik Frendin, Coll Drury, Jennifer Macleay, Robin Livingstone, and Malcolm Fraser

MFA TEAM / Rachael Scott, Helen Kelly, Robin Livingstone, Malcolm Fraser


COSTS, PD / David Adamson Group.

Athron Hill Phase 1 low res 38
Athron Hill, view across parkland up towards housing
Athron Hill render of simplified architectural forms.
Athron Hill Phase 1 low res 02


EAA Awards, 2023

Ambassador Award