Rural Design Architecture Portree Passive House Project Page
The house at East Park, Portree on the Isle of Skye is an ultra low-energy home providing comfortable living and working spaces for the owners.
The project grew from the client’s desire for a sustainable, future-proof house that would also be the first passive house on Skye, demonstrating the lowest possible energy requirements in a new dwelling. The brief for the house included an open plan kitchen/living space, 3 bedrooms and 2 studio/office workspaces. The client has previous experience of carrying out a self build passivhaus project and was keen to be involved in the construction process.
The site is on a steep south facing hillside overlooking Loch Portree, providing views over the village and south towards the Cuillin Hills; it marks the edge of the development boundary of the village and is located amongst a cluster of bungalows. The client’s aspiration was to make the most of the aspect, to create a building that relates to the landscape rather than imitating the suburban style of its neighbours, and to demonstrate that low energy design can be bold and innovative.
The house rises as a single wedge-shaped volume on 3 floors, under a grass roof. The main living space is on the middle floor above the bedrooms and takes advantage of any heat that rises within the building. The lowest floor is a semi-basement and in addition to 2 bedrooms and bathrooms it contains a music studio and utility/plant room. The main floor contains the open plan living spaces and a third bedroom. External ground level is brought up to floor level on the eastern side of the building making this accessible and allowing residents to step out onto a paved terrace area. The top floor contains a mezzanine and studio space under the highest point of the roof.
The external design of the house reflects the client’s requirement for a high level of thermal mass within the building fabric: this coupled with large openings to the south and small openings to the north created a castle like quality to the building. It therefore felt appropriate to take advantage of the local precedent of natural stone for the external cladding, topped with a thick turf roof with native wild grasses.
The main living space has large glazed openings to the south and west to maximise solar gain - with the added benefit of the views. These are framed with a patinated copper canopy carefully proportioned to prevent overheating from solar gain.
While the client has elected not to have the building certified as a Passivhaus, it is nonetheless an exemplary project and has performed to expectations. It has been an opportunity for the client to demonstrate the best of modern construction on a variety of social media, and by hosting open days.
Alan Dickson, Nick Thomson, Steven McKenna