Local homes for local people; an indigenous, highly adaptable product that offers a contemporary response to the lack of affordable homes in the Hebrides.

About this project

The pressing need for affordable accommodation for people—especially young families—living close to Rural Design's office led to the development of a range of prefabricated house types that could be manufactured locally and quickly assembled on site. This, a long-standing requirement for house building in all parts of Scotland, where the imperative has always been to erect the walls and roof quickly before the weather changes.

In 2011, the practice formed a joint venture company with James MacQueen Building Contractors Ltd, a local company it had long worked with and whose skills and experience it respected and trusted.

The resulting R.HOUSE product is now fabricated in a large workshop on the west side of the island—an indigenous, highly adaptable product that offers a contemporary response to the paradox posited by Kenneth Frampton in the 1980s: the R.HOUSE convincingly demonstrates that it is possible simultaneously to become modern and to return to sources.

Designed to sit comfortably within a rural context, the simple forms and robust materials of the R.HOUSE evoke the timeless forms of traditional Highland barns and steadings, allowing the house to blend in with existing buildings, or an open site. Constructed to meet the rigours of the Highland weather and the highest standards of energy efficiency the R.HOUSE is intended to provide a high quality home for years to come.

The layout and construction of the house is deliberately simple, keeping the cost of construction down yet allowing for a range of different options. Architect designed, detailed and specified, each element of the house has been carefully considered and chosen for its suitability, sustainability and durability.

With a crisp and contemporary appearance the designs are based on a traditional simplicity that is well suited to the Highland landscape and in particular hard to develop sites. The designs can sit discreetly in-between existing buildings, unlocking opportunities for development in an area affected by high land costs which prevents local people getting the opportunity to get their foot on the housing ladder. Designs available are 1, 2, 3 & 4 bedrooms variants which can also incorporate home workspaces if required.

Heating in the house is provided by an Air Source Heat Pump system which also heats the water. This along with mechanical heat recovery ventilation make the R.HOUSES exceptionally economical to run.

Factory construction is safer, cleaner and allows work in all weather. This ensures swift production and fixed cost pricing.

  • 90% reduction in manufacturing waste achievable by off-site building
  • Noise and disruption to neighbours of the development site greatly reduced
  • Build quality greatly improved
  • Speedy erection of buildings when delivered to site
  • High thermal and acoustic insulation
  • Responsibly sourced materials, FSC approved
  • High performance double glazing (Standard Windows are Nordan N|Tech 1.2)
  • Low energy lights
  • PV panels optional to increase energy performance
  • Reduced carbon emissions due to fewer deliveries

Further information

The Modern Timber House in the UK, chapter 10: The Regional Timber House

Rural House; Montrose Woods custom build development

Read our feature article how Scotland sows the seed for homegrown timber housing

Images: Nigel Rigden

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