With its weathered appearance and classic narrow plan, Rural Design’s proposal for a family home on the Isle of Skye has all the hallmarks of traditional Highland architecture.
The Longhouse is probably described best in the words of the architect himself, as a lesson in ‘complicated simplicity’. It adheres to Highland practice of being small and contour hugging, and with its muted palette of greys and browns, it still fits in with the local vernacular. What prevents this home from becoming a simple Skye cottage however, is in the manner in which it seamlessly combines tradition and high tech, creating a new typology. Cumbersome materials like stone and thatch are discarded, and replaced with a quick to assemble timber frame, super insulated walls and locally sourced cladding. Solar gain is maximised, and utilised alongside an air source heat pump, heat recovery and ventilation system which give the house enviable eco credentials. It is a format that Skye architects Rural Design have become masters of in recent years.
For the most part, the house reflects the classic open-plan layout of a Scottish longhouse. A vast living, dining, and kitchen area dominates the front of the house, with a central fire forming the heart of the home. Two bedrooms, bathrooms and a small study complete the modest program. What sets it apart from tradition are the contemporary touches, that include the optimistically named sun room to the rear, and the sizeable mezzanine level that overlooks the living area. Another highlight is the projecting window which punctuates the front of the house, breaking the classical form and extending the living area considerably. The panoramic views of the surrounding countryside are not to be sniffed at either!
Externally, the house is clad with weathered larch, which reflects the colours of both the sea and sky. Already fading to a silvery grey, the wood is testament to the stormy conditions the house has to withstand. A corrugated metal roof and a modern take on a lean to are clever touches, and help to create a dialogue between the house and the farm buildings and sheds native to the area. Openings in the building’s shell are perfectly in tune with the surroundings, and connect the house with magnificent views of Loch Dunvegan, the Western Isles and the jagged outline of the Cuillin mountain range. If we need a reminder about keeping it simple, this is most definitely it. (Pictures: Rural Design)