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Case Study 18 – The Long House

Name of building
The Long House
Date Completed
Building type
Husabost, Isle of Skye
Rural Design
Main contractor

Mackenzie Builders


Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Awards 2010, Shortlisted


Timber technologies

The form of agricultural sheds and barns in the surrounding area inspires the use of timber and corrugated sheeting in the design of this building.

The primary structure is made from Douglas fir, and the cladding is native European larch. The flooring is made of Siberian larch. Timber frame construction is now the default method of construction for housing in the highlands of Scotland. The main benefits of this being speed of construction in very poor weather. Timber also allows the creation of very low energy homes through the use of deep wall frames packed with insulation. If locally sourced, the timber also has very high sustainable credentials.

Special timber-related features

Timber cladding is used as an appropriate material to provide an honest external expression of the buildings structural form. This is rather than using blockwork and render which seems wrong in this rural environment.

The faded silver grey of the larch seems to be so soft and comfortable in the highland landscape. In a context which is so influenced by the weather and the sea, there is a poetic relationship between timber architecture and the small timber fishing boats found around our coast.

Background to building

The Long House at Husabost develops the simple building typology found in the Isle of Skye. This is based on a low single, narrow plan, together with additions in the form of the traditional ‘lean-to’ form. There is a danger of overdevelopment in the highlands, with significant pressure on development in picturesque areas. It is appropriate to look at other vernacular forms in the surrounding area for inspiration such as byres and sheds. This helps retain the rich pattern and grain of building types and colours found in the highlands.

European Larch is a hard strong timber with an attractive warm reddish brown or terracotta colour with gold streaks, which fades to silver after prolonged

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