The Clubhouse

The conversation between architect Roy Malcolm and developer/ owner Mark Parsinen about an Art Deco clubhouse dates back more than ten years to when they were considering options for a clubhouse at Kingsbarns Golf Links near St Andrews.

A more traditional approach sympathetic to the architecture of the surrounding estate was undertaken, however, and Art Deco notions put on the shelf. A decade later, clubhouse conversations at Castle Stuart focused on the challenge of presenting the panoramic setting along the Moray Firth to those within the building for their maximum pleasure. Through a defining ‘circular drum’, Roy Malcolm and Steve Thomson of G1 Architects had their answer. The architecture would focus on bringing the surrounding panoramic beauty to the interior. Subsequent discussions centered on ‘arrival and release’ to views in the ‘circular drum’.

Interior ‘compression and release’ to panoramic views became the organising principle. It united the approach to the utilitarian functions of the clubhouse – those of the golf shop, bar and restaurant, locker rooms, and top-floor lounge. From surrounding decks to sun-screening architectural elements to colour palettes for interior materials and furniture, the details flowed from the organising principle. Form followed function.

The initial clubhouse design had a stone and render exterior with a slate roof. It did the job, but, to some extent, it was more a residual of the success the same clubhouse exterior enjoyed at Kingsbarns than something generating real excitement.

Late in the design process, Mark Parsinen and his wife Dede were watching Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot on television, where the particular episode took place at a traditional Art Deco hotel on the south of England seashore. The Parsinens immediately paused the recorded programme and excitedly began photographing the hotel. After emailing the image to architect Roy Malcolm, all three knew they had found the final element of a clubhouse that they were truly excited about. The white Art Deco building became the undisputed best vehicle to deliver the form while also reinforcing the tradition for Deco architecture that punctuates the coasts of Britain and for the white washed buildings that populate the east coast of Scotland specifically.

Chanonry Lighthouse is an archetype of the latter and features prominently in the course’s visual experience. Mark Parsinen has proclaimed the work of architects Roy Malcolm and Steve Thomson a ‘stroke of genius’ that binds the 1930s Art Deco form of the clubhouse and its era to the inspiration for the links course itself – the ‘transitional period’ of golf, a simpler more rustic era circa 1890 to 1935.’