Rural Design, Isle of Skye, 2016


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Landscape View 

David Barbour     Download Original

  • Landscape View    
  • South Elevation    
  • Front Elevation    
  • Gable    
  • Interior    
  • Entrance    
  • detail    
  • Bathroom    
  • Interior    
  • Interior    
  • View from Inside    
  • Plans    
  • Elevations    
  • Gable Elevations    
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A holiday cottage on the Isle of Skye

Tinhouse is a purpose designed holiday house located at the northwestern tip of the Isle of Skye. The project was entirely self built at weekends by its architect owners over a period of three years. It is designed to take advantage of the outstanding landscape, whilst withstanding the extreme conditions found on this part of the west coast of Scotland.

The simple form recalls both the archetypal child’s image of a house and the rural sheds that sit as ghosts in the landscape alongside the ubiquitous white rendered crofthouses. Tinhouse is similarly scaled to the smaller sheds and contains one bedroom along with the living space, kitchen, and bathroom.

The corrugated aluminium external metal skin predominates as a protective layer against the often ferocious storms with minimal openings cut out for the view. The long, horizontal slot cut in to the north elevation creates a point from which to view the landscape and seascape in good weather and bad, from the inside.

The house's materials were mostly chosen to allow for an ease of build by one person. Where greater numbers were required, for example to raise the gable wall panels or install the steel beams, this became a celebration and a social event.

The use of materials and detail adopts simplicity where complexity normally prevails, and this approach informed the aesthetic of the interior. The recycled, timber pocket doors have simple cut-outs instead of ironmongery, wooden dowels are used as door handles or coat pegs, and left-over cement board frames the shower opening.

An imaginative use of colour also informed the aesthetic of the house where little moments are celebrated with highlights inspired by colours found naturally outside. Similarly, the furniture informs the aesthetic and celebrates the handmade spirit of the house. This includes a concrete topped dining table on Douglas Fir sawhorses, beds and seats built in using leftover structural timber, a prototype 'Mobius' coffee table which sits at the centre of the social space and offcuts of Douglas Fir as bedside tables.

The external landscaping uses timber and hand poured concrete surfaces which together with rough, large section timber walls create sheltered spaces and routes from which to enjoy the view beyond.


  • Begun: Apr 2013
  • Completed: Jul 2016
  • Floor area: 70m2
  • Sector: House
  • Total cost: £110,000
  • Funding: personal
  • Tender date: Mar 2013
  • Procurement: Self Build
  • CO2 Emissions: 28kg/m2/year
  • Address: Tinhouse, 12 Lower Milovaig, Glendale, Isle of Skye, IV558WR, United Kingdom

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