Rural Design Architecture Taighean a’ Chaiseil Project Page
Staffin is a rural settlement consisting of 23 crofting townships, known for their scattered vernacular houses, nestled beneath the Trotternish Ridge. Stenscholl is one of these townships, a traditional crofting community sitting at the low point of the glen alongside the River Stenscholl.
Staffin is set within the Trotternish National Scenic Area and there was scepticism within the regulatory bodies over the capacity of the NSA to accept a new housing development. This was overcome by an extensive design process and by the energy and persistence of the clients, Staffin Community Trust, who have succeeded in providing the first new housing in Staffin in 20 years.
The site was an area of rough crofting ground, used as common grazing but of low agricultural value. The brief was for a mix of uses: six houses alongside buildings for commercial letting and storage.
The project works with natural patterns of development using features commonly found in the built landscape. The mixed-use brief allowed the development of a range of forms and roof pitches: the narrow plan commercial buildings have 45° pitched roofs, and the housing 40°.
The orientation is also varied with two buildings sitting perpendicular to the road balancing the linearity of the parallel houses, creating a defined cluster of buildings when viewed from a distance.
Although utilising a repeating house type, the facades vary according to the material type. The white houses’ facades recall traditional forms by using “punched” rectangular openings; the timber houses with the recessive tones of silvered timber and corrugated roofs recall more agricultural forms with larger single openings. The use of a rust red for the corrugated roof on one house introduces a point of interest that is also familiar within any crofting landscape.
The traditional form of the commercial building - stone gable and slate roof - acts as a marker, anchoring the development as if it were a refurbishment of some ancient ruin.
Post and wire fences define the house plots, structured as linear lines running strictly perpendicular to the main road. Roads and parking are designed as unadopted surfaces comprising kerb-free tarred bellmouths, compacted gravel roads and parking spaces formed in grasscrete. Bins are enclosed in small corrugated shelters that recall some of the quirky roadside structures often found along the roadside.
With the houses now occupied by six growing families it is satisfying to see the Community Trust’s dream become reality.
The project was delivered in partnership with Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association and the Communities Housing Trust.
Affordable Housing / Commercial
Staffin Community Trust
Marnie Macdonald, Hazel Roe-Bose, Alan Dickson
Scottish Homes Awards, Community Contribution Award