Rural Design Architecture Talla na Mara Project Page

Talla na Mara
Talla na Mara
Talla na Mara
Talla na Mara
Talla na Mara
Talla na Mara
Talla na Mara

Talla na Mara, Horgabost, Isle of Harris

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This project at Horgabost on the Isle of Harris consists of a mixed-use enterprise building, community space and social housing. It was developed by the West Harris Trust which took over ownership of the crofting estate in 2010. Their aim was to revitalise the community providing sustainable employment and housing opportunities.

The community enterprise building, Talla na Mara, forms the focus of the site. The main hall and cafe space open out onto a deck looking north-west to sea and mountains. The building consists of three simple forms oriented to create sheltered entrance spaces and an undulating outline that sits comfortably in the landscape. The building is clad in untreated larch while the entrance is accentuated with a panel of yellow.

The building is carefully sited, and the decking scribed to reveal the ice-scoured bedrock which acts as the datum for the building. Talla na Mara consists of a hall space which serves as a cafe/ restaurant during the day, a foyer/ exhibition space, three offices, and three business units. The main space can be sub-divided by a folding screen and also has a flexible marquee extension which can provide additional space when the building is used as a venue for larger gatherings. There are also three camper van pitches which allows the community to derive benefit from the increasing popularity of the islands.

The six houses, a mix of two and three bedroom units, were developed with the Hebridean Housing Partnership to provide much needed affordable rental properties.

The project is powered by a wind turbine on the hill above the site which provides electricity to all the buildings and heat to the community building by means of a hot water storage system.

  • Project Type


  • Client

    West Harris Trust

  • Size


  • Completion


  • Team

    Gill Smith, Alan Dickson, Steven McKenna, Nick Thomson

  • Photography

    copyright John Maher

  • Awards

    Royal Incorporation of British Architects Awards: Shortlisted

    Civic Trust Award: Highly Commended