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Best use of timber 2014 shortlist – House No. 7

Name of building
House No. 7
Date Completed
August 2013
Building type
Private House
Isle of Tiree
Denizen Works
Mrs L. Kerr Main
Main contractor

John MacKinnon Builders


The Project

This new three bedroom house is sited on a ruined, B-listed black-house on the Isle of Tiree. The concept comprises two houses, a Living-house and a Guesthouse, linked by a Utility wing. Located on the southern coast of the island, House No.7 is accessed by a grass track and enjoys fantastic views of Duin bay and landward views of undulating machair and traditional settlements.

Inspired by an examination of the local vernacular the architecture of the Livinghouse and Utility wing taking their lead from agricultural buildings combining soft roof forms, chimneys and corrugated cladding. Setting off the utilitarian accommodation is the Guesthouse, a re-constructed Hebridean black-house, with deep-set stonewalls and a black-tarred roof.

As the siting of the house is very exposed, the layout maximises shelter from the wind on all sides. This enables natural ventilation while allowing sunlight to penetrate and warm the house.

The interior of the house offers a counterpoint to the robust exterior, filled with natural light; the finishes are intentionally robust with inspiration taken from local architecture. Heating is provided by an air source heat pump.

Use of Timber

The cottage is built using traditional timber frame techniques whereas the roof of the Utility block and the Living-house are structured using a Glu-Lam frame. The shape and form of the structure was developed through a careful analysis of the local vernacular. Having decided on these curved forms, the architects debated the best method of construction to create a robust island living environment that was sustainable, strong and easily shipped over on a Cal-Mac ferry. The solution split the roof portions along the apex to allow for ease of transportation and connection on site, allowing the contractors to erect the frame quickly and safely in the inclement weather.

Pine of differing characters was used internally. Pine tongue and groove boards are prevalent throughout the Highlands and Islands and in reflection, this material is used here in a slightly different way – in a pitch-pine worktop, pine skirting boards used as the cladding to the ceilings in of two of the main spaces and pine sculptural stairs in the hall. The stairs were laid horizontally on site after being milled to size from Victorian pitch pine beams.

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