Scotasay is a tiny island that sits between Scalpay and Harris in east Loch Tarbert, Harris. It was bought along with Scalpay by our client’s father, an architect, in 1962. Until now the family had used a portakabin and an old unrenovated croft house, but had tired of the cold and damp. The island has areas of peat bog, heather and rough ungrazed grassland and unusually an area of woodland planted in the 60s.
We made our first visit to the island with the drainage designer and the private water supply expert by sea kayaks. During the visit we looked unsuccessfully for a spring and a position for a soakaway for the drainage. During the visit it also became obvious that our client spent most of his time outdoors, working on his boats, getting food and supplies up and down from his jetty and catching and cooking seafood.
The design developed as a series of pods linked by a top lit corridor. A large living/dining/study with a kitchen is linked by an open courtyard to a bedroom pod. Service spaces such as bathroom, utility and plant rooms form a spine to the rear. The house is built on stilts and overhangs a tidal lagoon; it is lined internally in birch faced ply so that when the sun reflects off the water, the house glows.
As it is off-grid the house is powered by a 5kw turbine connected to an inverter and a bank of batteries. It has been designed to allow for a log-fired boiler to be added later and a back up gas boiler and generator. The form of the roof allows for the rainwater to be collected for recycling by means of a series of pumps and tanks. Our client continues to live, cook and do his projects outside as far as practical. He plans to build more, but simpler, self contained pods on the island for visitors.