Rural Design Architecture Arisaig Project Page


Arisaig, Arisaig

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The site for this small house in Arisaig was the leftover corner of a Housing Association development, not the stereotypical hillside plot with a view: but the advantages to our client are numerous.

They are now part of a community, within walking and cycling distance of local facilities, and within reach by public transport from virtually anywhere in Scotland. This is symbolised by the presence of the Citylink bus stop directly outside the house.

The familiar design challenge was the connection to the wider landscape. The view to the distant landscape could be transformed by height and a twist of orientation: so the living space is located at the upper level and the gable is angled to the view, with one large square window framing the outlook.

The kitchen/dining space and living space are connected within a single continuous volume, linked by a single flight staircase - like a ship’s stair leading to the upper deck.

Simplicity of detailing and utilitarian materials allowed a low-cost build - larch cladding, fibre cement roof, aluminium trims and flashings resolving and weatherproofing the connections between materials - an industrial aesthetic commonly seen by the water's edge in small towns and villages throughout the Highlands. A rust-red ochre panel signals the entrance below a sheltered “cut out” creating a place of refuge as you enter.

The interior takes a similar approach, OSB sits on the interior side of the perimeter walls, with simple plywood detailing to key areas. A concrete floor on the ground level is coupled with blue linoleum at the upper level.

The house is highly insulated and airtight, has mechanical ventilation with heat recovery, and heating is provided by a wood burner with an air source heat pump as back-up.

The project combined the client's vision with simple architecture and was brought together by a talented local builder, demonstrating that with a little imagination, affordable architecture can be achieved in any setting.

  • Project Type

    Private house

  • Client


  • Size


  • Completion


  • Team

    Alan Dickson, Nick Thomson, Elena Kindelan, Cara Williams

  • Photography

    copyright David Barbour

  • Awards

    Saltire Housing Design Award