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Best use of timber 2013 shortlist – The Turf House

Name of building
The Turf House
Date Completed
November 2012
Building type
Residential
Location
Kilmuluag, Isle of Skye
Architect
Rural Design
Client
Indi and Rebecca Waterstone
Main contractor

Donald Lamont

Wood

The Project

The Turf House is located on the northernmost tip of the Trotternish peninsula on the Isle of Skye – a particularly exposed landscape regularly battered by the forces of nature. From certain angles the building recalls the low pitch agricultural sheds that pepper the rural landscape, and in other views the drumlin land forms found throughout this glaciated landscape.

The Turf House was designed as an affordable family home for a local couple whose desire for an environmentally responsible house was combined with two key requirements: A turf roof was to be an essential component of the build; and the aim that the house take a distinctive perpendicular relationship to the north view.

The form of the house is unusual. Tapering towards each end, the plan form expands in the middle to accommodate the internal spaces such as kitchen, bathroom and entrance space. A wood-burning stove acts as the only heat source. A system of whole house ventilation with heat recovery, coupled with high levels of insulation and airtightness, ensures that the heat is distributed around the house and there is no need for central heating.

Use of Timber

The Turf House provides an excellent opportunity to celebrate a new confident timber architecture appropriate for the 21st Century. It is not intended as a demonstration project, yet it demonstrates clearly the potential of timber throughout the project to assist the development of a progressive regional architecture for Scotland. This project was not intended as a pristine jewel to be handcrafted by shopfitting joiners, instead it was built by roughing kit joiners using skills native to the West Highlands. Timber-clad externally using native Larch board on board cladding on a 200mm timber frame, the detailing is simple and uniform. This project considers a new typology for timber construction in the Highlands using forms that could not be constructed in anything other than timber – demonstrating the possibilities and flexibility that can be addressed using simple materials.

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