Design Awards 2011
4 Linsiadar lies just across Loch Ceann Hulabhig from the stone circle of Calanais on the west coast of Lewis. The oldest presence on the croft were the remains of three agricultural buildings, long and low, stretching out like fingers to present their gables to the loch, interlinked by dry-stane dykes and dominated by the ruined shell of an 18th Century Tacksman’s house. We seek to re-inhabit the site in such a way as to regenerate its best characteristics and the new house is the first step in that process, taking the line of the first “finger” and also physically engaging with the Tacksman’s house. Its robust, sculptural form reaches back beyond the chequered local history of imported kits and “white-houses” to the ancient indigenous Iron Age dwellings and their successor in the Blackhouse, both of which featured relatively organic form with falling ridges responding to a tapering plans beneath. This perhaps drops an anchor into the landscape at a subconscious level.
Though offering moments of spatial surprise the building interior is generally straightforward and unfussy. The shape and placement of windows is responsive to the surroundings – orientation, landscape, distance – but the building envelope is otherwise low-key. Form and massing do the work, allowing the detailing to remain simple and understated. Rough sawn ship-lap boarding with a dark stain, galvanised steel gutters, good quality windows, a roof of slate and lead. A black cow lying down in the grass.
Technically, the building is timber frame supplemented with steel. The external envelope provides a high standard of insulation and airtightness; areas of glazing are carefully measured in terms of their location, orientation and scale. Hot water and space heating requirements are served by a geothermal heatpump. Electrical power is generated on site by wind turbine.