SketchUp Stories: Voigt Architects Limited

Jonathan Reeve is a chartered architect for the award winning Voigt Architects Limited in Arbroath, a small Chartered Architectural practice in Scotland. Originally from Northern Ireland, Jonathan studied Architecture at the Duncan of Jordanstown College of Art in Dundee, graduating in 2003. Having worked on wide range of projects from tiny balconies to multi-million pound housing developments, Jonathan is currently specialising in bespoke house extensions and private houses.

Having used SketchUp for over 15 years, Jonathan took some time to speak with us about how integral the software is to his work, his thoughts on architecture, and his favourite design projects.

New Distillery Visitor Centre, Angus
The design is a modern standing seam pitched roof to replicate the existing agricultural buildings of the existing distillery and nearby farm.
Aerial view of Disillery Visitor Centre
The ground floor contains a new entrance/reception with a small exhibition space, shop and café. The upper floor contains a private VIP bar overlooking the distillery. Large glazed frontage allow the café and bar occupants to enjoy views across the Angus hills to the sea.
SketchUp interior design for a new Visitor Centre for the hugely successful Arbikie Distillery near Montrose.

Hi Jonathan. Tell us a little bit about Voigt Architects Limited and the work that you do.

What I love the most is the sheer variety of projects we undertake – from small to very large.

I really enjoy small extensions, and private one off houses are my favourite projects. Houses are so personal: it is someone’s life, their home, their ‘castle.’ I strive to produce good design, and seeing your creation built well makes a happy architect!

Private residential design
Interior view of a residential design

How did you get into architecture?

I wanted to be an architect ever since I was a child, from my ever growing obsession for Lego and creating/building things.

Architects are often seen as paper pushers or builder’s agents but making
buildings is a creative design process: Design always starts by hand (sketches). One of my favourite quotes from a tutor whilst studying architecture was to ‘keep buildings simple – you should be able to
sketch your design in 10 seconds using 10 lines.’

What are the benefits of using SketchUp in your design process?

I have used SketchUp for over 15 years now and love that it is so simple and quick to produce 3D models. These days so many people do not understand architectural drawings such as plans, sections etc, so being able to communicate your ideas in 3D is essential to our clients.

Arbikie Distillery New Visitor Centre Animation walk through
Arbroath Flats
The design is contemporary using a mix of natural stone, slate and timber cladding, with extended gables and dormer windows expressed on the main south elevation adding to the character of the building.

Do your have a typical workflow in SketchUp? What happens to the SketchUp model once the concept is approved?

Our typical workflow for most projects consists of producing a SketchUp model of the building (and often the site) as a key design tool, and one to present to the client at the initial stage.
Thereafter the SketchUp model will help in the design development and be used in the main planning drawings and application. Usually it then finishes when we develop the construction drawings but often the SketchUp model is used to check, test, and visualise technical elements and issues. It’s incredibly useful for our technical staff to check the construction drawings against the original design intent.

Private residential extension design concept
Interior view residential extension design

Do you collaborate with your customers using SketchUp?

I love producing 3D models to show clients inside their building before it is made. This had led to us dipping into animations and walkthroughs, and has really helped us not only sell our ideas but help our clients sell their houses/flats etc. A lot of our projects on our website now incorporate the 3D
animations alongside the 3Ds and photos of the building.

We often collaborate with our clients via the SketchUp model, and have sent out the 3D model for them to navigate and spin around at home using the SketchUp viewer. Domestic clients especially love this – being able to walk around and show off their new home to family and friends.

SketchUp aerial view of a church concept design
Church view 3D section
Church view: main hall interior

Can you share the details of some of the projects that you are most proud of?

One of the projects I am most proud of is the Leaf Room at Ninewells Hospital, The project was won following a national 2-Stage Architecture Competition to design a garden room at the hospital. It was a special one for me personally as I live very close to the site and my wife works at the hospital so it is a real community project. For such a small, humble project with a very low budget, it has been fortunate to pick up a few further architectural awards and in 2018 won the Scottish Civic Trust ‘Best Public Space in Scotland.’

Leaf Room: aerial image in SketchUp
The leaf room is inspired from a natural form of a folded leaf – using a green roof overhanging a rectangular shaped timber box underneath functioning as: living room, garden retreat, community room, and educational training facility.
Leaf Room: Panorama in SketchUp
The building is extremely environmentally conscious being constructed primarily in Natural Scottish Timber, and will be uniquely 100% off grid: with no mains service connections, no electricity requirements, a wood burning stove and rainwater harvesting from the roof to help water the garden. The building sits comfortably in the garden space it occupies, creating a strong link between building and the excellent community garden.
The SketchUp 3D image compared to its final realised design

If you weren’t an architect for a profession, what would you be doing instead?

When I was at school I worked in a graphic design studio as a school summer job and often thought of pursuing this if architecture didn’t work out for me. Thankfully I get to use my graphic design skills in architecture.

To learn more about Voigt Architects Limited, visit their website.