Architecture is as important to the culture of a community as language and music. Great strides have been made in recent years to invigorate the Gaelic language and song of the Gàidhealtachd – our mission at Dualchas has been to do the same for Highland architecture.
The blackhouse – a simple linear building of stone and thatch, is the traditional dwelling of the rural Highlands. To many it is as a symbol of backwardness and poverty – little more than a shelter.
Our view was that it could also be seen as a marvel of purpose building in appalling economic and social conditions – one that was defined by the climate, the topography and the culture.
It is this response to location and environment, as seen in the blackhouse, which is our inspiration for modern Highland design.
Careful siting in the topography, creating shelter from the wind, the use of materials and their sustainability are all lessons that can be applied. But we now also have to consider capturing sunlight, exploiting the views, creating beautiful volumes, carefully crafted detailing and integrating modern technologies.
The result is a language of architecture that is distinctly of a place – that connects to what has gone before but is also a modern statement of what the Highlands is and can be. It is responsive yet restrained – trying to sit within the landscape rather than seek to shout out.
It is this understanding which is at our heart and can be applied to all different locations – whether in Scotland or further afield, whether rural or urban. That we must observe, understand; and then design.
Dualchas* is inspired by a deep commitment – that our landscapes and our environment are precious.
Gaelic for “cultural inheritance”, Dualchas had a mission to demonstrate the the rich living culture of the Highlands and that architecture is very much part of this culture; the connection between land and living.
With each Dualchas project, our architects are concerned with ideas of sustainability through the use of energy harnessing technology, the choice of materials in the build, and the life-use of the building. Designing buildings that future generations will have no wish to demolish is key to our thinking; and our buildings have a continuity of tradition in their design that makes them appropriate to their surroundings.
We also explore ideas, the use of space and the manipulation of light which raises architecture from the mere process of building to the aspirations of art – where creativity can raise the experience of existence.
It is our ambition to set modern Scottish architecture on a par with the best in Europe in the same way that our great planned cities and villages are on a par with the best architecture of their time. As we should all know, good architecture can help make wonderful places even better – and lives more fulfilling.
*Dualchas is pronounced ‘doo -al -chas’ with a ‘ch’ as in loch. It can also be pronounced with a glide vowel ‘doo -al – i – chas’. The ‘d’ is soft and the ‘l’ is thick.