Fiscavaig / Rural Design

East Distant

Architects: Rural Design
Location: Isle of Skye,
Client: Nick and Kate Middleton
Structural Engineering: AF Cruden Associates, Inverness
Main Contrator: James MacQueen Builidng Contractors Ltd, Borneskitaig, Isle of Skye
Project Area: 70 sqm
Budget: £123,000
Project Year: 2009

Downstairs South Interior Part View

This small holiday house, located in the township of Fiscavaig on the western side of the Isle of Skye, deliberately eschews convention due to its unusual site.

Indeed on first visiting the site it was difficult to see how any proposal could succeed if it disrupted a landscape that did not lend itself to intervention.

original site
original site
location plan
location plan

The decision to lift the building off the ground on small piloti released the design from convention and allowed it to relate to the wider context – the views to the north and the sun from the south.

The form of the house deliberately narrows to the north, reducing its surface area, and leans into the weather.


The entrance bridge lifts one off the landscape and immediately upon entering one is connected with the view through the fully-glazed elevation to the north. The other windows are secondary and draw light into the two storey volume.

Simple timber construction reinforces the character of the house as a visitor in the ancient landscape.

Cite: "Fiscavaig / Rural Design" 30 Nov 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <>
  • Tuf-Pak

    It’s nice. The site, form, and materials couldn’t be more evocative of Sea-Ranch.

  • TBX

    The surroundings and views of the area are so serene, that I think a better solution could’ve been given to creating a temporary living space.

    It seems more like the builders wanted to create something that stood out from the surroundings. Which they also did inside by the view being wonderfully obstructed by the fireplace…

  • andres

    great work ! congratulations .

  • trimtab21

    this is just an eye sore in a beautiful area! What a shame.

  • Noah Murney

    Lovely wee building, but such a shame about the accompanying text. It’s astonishing that someone can design so well and write so badly e.g. it is actually possible for a building which sits directly on the ground (as opposed to having quite clever and economic mini-pile foundations) to relate to its surroundings. Also, it’s not necessary to tell us that windows draw light into the interior! The stated logic of why the building is narrower to the north – to reduce surface area – is entirely negated by the fact that it’s fully glazed. Less archi-blather and more building information next time would be good – you know: client, brief, materials choice, context. Or am I just eschewing convention?

  • wratherford

    as one who has holidayed in skye, the north narrowness is appropriate due to some fairly brutal winds and weathering. it is not a benign environment at all, even in summer, and especially not in winter. I applaud the simple form, but a second bath next to another? seems like a poor trade-off. horrid light fixtures ruin the interior for me, and the stair landing should have been an opportunity for hearth and seating by the stove. not as good/informal as sea ranch, not as good/minimal as sejima, but not bad at all.

  • BAJ

    A gem!

    The critiques cease to amaze.

  • Doug

    Lovely work. Kudos to Rural Design.

    To TBX, take the time to look at the plat and the photos which clearly show this to be in close proximity to other cabins. I count a minimum of 12 with 8 clearly visible in the background of photo 5.

    To wratherford, I am assuming the second bath you speak of is that which houses the composting toilet. I for one thought it an ingenious solution to provide a low impact alternative to a traditional leach field. Keeping it semi-separated from the main body of the cabin likely reduces any objectionable odors.

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  • David

    I think it is a wonderful compact design and the materials chosen were spot on! Those who negatively critique the “writing” and things like “light fixtures” would perhaps find “Better Homes and Gardens” or some other insipid “decorating magazine” more to their liking?

  • Stuart W.

    This is an interesting project, but I couldn’t help feel that there is something lacking overall. I feel the architecture itself could have embodied more of the sense of place into its overall proposal, working with the site, rather than against it. A more integrated design, the building perhaps working with the contours present on site rather than against it, materiality; light, could have made for a more engaging project. This building looks to grab the attention of the viewer, shouting, ‘I’m here’, rather than saying, ‘where am I’?