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The Black Shed – Best Use of Timber Awards 2018 Shortlist

Name of building
The Black Shed
Date Completed
April 2017
Building type
Isle of Skye
Mary Arnold-Forster Architects
Designer site
Helena Webster
Main contractor

Allen Cowe


When Mary Arnold-Forster met with the clients to find out what their ideas for their new home would be they asked for an open plan house stating that they had no real desire or need for separate rooms. Adopting the ethos of the traditional Blackhouse which is local to the Highlands and Islands, the clients wanted the simplicity and warmth that a Blackhouse provided, the result was The Black Shed.

Traditionally Black houses were not built to exploit the views. People worked outside, and houses were for shelter against the wind and rain. The Black Shed is not flooded with daylight but there are a few carefully chosen windows and the passage of the sun can be traced through the house from the morning window into the upstairs bedroom and from the long entrance corridor through to the south facing dining room doors to the fixed window pane on the west gable.

A reduced palette of materials was used – outside, black corrugated metal sheeting clads the building with a grey resin floor guiding you through the inside. The walls, ceiling, stairs, doors and kitchen are built entirely from Douglas Fir which gives the interior a real warmth and a relaxed feeling. The Douglas Fir was also used to craft shelves, cupboards, drawers, handrails and desks.

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