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Falls of Shin – Best Use of Timber Awards 2018 Shortlist

Name of building
Falls of Shin
Date Completed
May 2017
Building type
Visitor Centre
Achany, Sutherland
CH Architecture Ltd
Designer site
Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust
Main contractor

William Gray Construction


The building in a woodland setting and has been designed to sit comfortably in the landscape. From the outset, timber cladding was selected as the preferred external finish. Siberian Larch was specified for the board on board cladding and a silicate based timber treatment, that ages timber in a uniform manner, was added to ensure that the timber silvers evenly despite the large over sailing roof.

The structure of the building is a hybrid of timber frame, Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) and Glue Laminated Timber (Glulam). It was pre-fabricated and delivered to site to be assembled. The primary spine wall is fabricated in CLT which is exposed in the main public space. The roof is also made from CLT, supported on Glulam beams and columns, with the finishes left exposed. Together with the polished concrete floor this provides a palette of natural materials which give the interior a robust, durable and appropriately rural feel.

Douglas Fir has been used for the external Glulam column which sits at the prow of the building supporting the oversailing roof. The Douglas Fir which was felled from a nearby forest and gifted to the project by Forestry Commission Scotland, has also been used to form the external trellised walkway. This open structure is a landscape intervention which provides an approach to the building and contains the interpretation boards telling the story of the salmon and its importance to the local community, the ecosystem and the economy.

Timber that was left over from the walkway construction was salvaged and used to form two large picnic tables and benches, each accommodating over 30 people. These are used as overflow space for the cafe and have provided the ideal venue for children’s parties.

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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