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.