When we imagine exploring the idyllic Scottish countryside, modern architecture is not the first thing we’d expect. Probably not even like the twelfth thing. But one (virtual) walk through the Cliff House on The Isle Of Skye snapped us right out of that preconception.
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The award-winning single-story, two-bedroom modern home was commissioned by a couple who had purchased the plot of land right above Loch Dunvegan on the northwest coast of the Isle of Skye. The challenge for the architects—Scotland’s Dualchas Architects—was to conceive of a structure that could both endure the unpredictable and harsh weather of the region while abiding by the strict zoning constraints that demanded it be low-lying. Plus, they had to use natural materials.
The exterior, as lair-like as it may appear under a banner of dark clouds, was actually inspired by a series of simple, stone agricultural buildings which dot the surrounding area. The facade is a combination of Scottish Larch wood and Caithness stone, both of which are local green materials. (And sound a lot cooler when you imagine Sean Connery pronouncing them).
The 1,200-square foot spread appears much larger than it is as you approach, but that’s because it’s set up with a long and narrow interior layout—a necessary move in order to build on the land without encroaching too heavily on the natural terrain, all while maximizing views.
You realize it’s smaller in scale as you step through the door and into the living and dining room, which is bounded by floor-to-ceiling windows on the loch-facing side…
…and a clean, minimalist kitchen on the other. Mmm haggis.
The remaining living room breaks out into narrow swaths on each side. The two bedrooms each have their own wide view of the loch down below, and the two bathrooms are set in more secluded spots on the edges, where, evidently, flocks of chickens are free to cluck around watching you do your business.
And to keep things from feeling too claustrophobic, there are a handful of clever touches that amplify the already airy, open, and light-soaked interior vibe, including a polished concrete floor and exposed ceiling rafters that leak sunlight from surrounding rooms.
Joe McGauley is a senior editor at Supercompressor. He is unnerved by wild chickens and haggis.