8 Houses on Barra

Cuithir, Isle of Barra

These eight houses for Barra & Vatersay Housing Association were the product of a year-long community consultation process undertaken by the Practice and Housing Association.

Each building aligns east-west with the slope, optimising passive solar gain, reducing wind noise, and making the most of the views.  The distinctive curved ends of the buildings were developed to reduce heat loss from the cooling effect of the wind.  The layout of these houses and their materials relate to the nearby listed Church.

Fuel economy was important: each house has a multi-fuel stove with a back boiler in addition to off-peak electric heating.  High levels of insulation, entrance lobbies, super low-e double-glazed timber windows, and heat recovery fans have also been incorporated, and upper coomed ceilings reduce the buildings’ heated volume.  The houses pioneer the use of a vapour permeable unventilated roof construction that significantly improves thermal performance.

Locally obtained materials were used and as many as possible can be recycled in the future, whilst easily maintained long-life materials reduce maintenance costs.

The project received a Commendation from the Civic Trust in 2003 and features as an exemplar within Scottish Government Planning documents, including PAN 72 'Housing in the Countryside' and PAN 73 'Rural Diversification'.

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