A timber clad family home, tucked away by a lake on the West Highlands of Scotland is the fifth house to join the shortlist for RIBA’s 2018 House of the Year. Designed by Cambridge-based Haysom Ward Miller Architects, the house was praised by the judges as ‘an exemplar of its genre’, due to the ‘care in the design and in the building of this house’. 

The near-200 sq m structure follows local vernacular, using timber and pitched roofs (yet without trying to copy existing buildings, hasten to add the architects), cutting a discreet figure against the rich and natural Scottish landscape. Set by the water, the building feels modern yet also ‘of its place’, seamlessly integrating with its setting and using the context to inform both material and volumetric choices. 

The house is created to be completely off-grid, yet has all the comforts of a modern home. Photography: Richard Fraser

On top of its highly contextual approach, the house was designed to be completely off-grid and environmentally friendly. Most of the construction used prefabricated elements, so as to minimise the impact of a building site on the surrounding land. At the same time, the house is serviced by its own water supply, electrical system and sewage treatment. 

The project’s three main minimalist volumes are wrapped in highly insulated SIP panels, while the Scottish larch cladding was charred using ‘a variation of the traditional Japanese shou-sugi-ban technique to achieve both naturally varied colouring and improved durability’, explain the architects; which is, in fact, a fitting example of how the house’s modern design combines both a contemporary aesthetic and key sustainability values that helped to ensure its place on the RIBA shortlist. §

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