A quintessentially modern green timber house in which structural form has followed function.
Placed on the edge of Loch Ailort, Taigh na Coille (“House of the Woods”, 2012) has prospects to Eigg and Rhum, and Eilean nan Gobhar (Goat Island), conjuring up the client's memories of childhood summer holidays camping on the beach at Roshven and the occasional rowing boat trip over to the rocky, cliff-girthed islet.
The house is designed to sit low in the rocky landscape, back from the water’s edge and sheltered to its rear from the prevailing southwesterly wind by a stand of Scots pines that channels the route to its entrance.
Taigh na Coille has a T-shaped plan, the entrance is located at one end of the long, double height volume that, on its lower level, accommodates the kitchen, dining and living area, the latter looking out over the rocky shore, whilst above is a home office/study and a TV room.
Perpendicular to this, the single storey bedroom wing is oriented to ensure all its rooms have views across the water, with the master bedroom specifically aligned with Goat Island. In structural form and materials, the house is similar to Frisealach, the external elements being a green oak external frame, the internal ones of Douglas fir. Horizontal Siberian larch cladding boards have been used except between window panels where the same material is installed vertically. The house benefits from wood fibre insulation.
As with its neighbour Frisealach, Taigh na Coille appears to hover on an understructure of sturdy green oak posts connected to concrete pads that are set on the rocks so as to cause as little disturbance to the natural landscape as possible. The master bedroom and the living area have their own external timber decks, with stairs down to the rocks below.
Overall, this is an architecture of understatement: deferential to its context, its construction providing a robust barrier to the extremes of weather regularly encountered in Scotland’s rugged north-west: a quintessentially modern green timber house in which structural form has very definitely followed function.
The Modern Timber House in the UK, chapter 1
Images: Angus Bremner; Helen Lucas Architects