design, create and deliver considered, responsive & contextual architecture; buildings, places & communities for all.

What do you do on an island separated from access to the mainland by a 25 min. ferry journey with a total population of just over 150 people?

Community, naturally, plays a large part in island life. Everyone knows everyone and things ‘get done’ sometimes in an unconvential way. But what happens when the community disappears?

The lack of housing on the island available to the young people is a growing issue. About half of the property on the island is owned as holiday lets and some is not even lived in. This is a viscous cycle that could see the indigenous population of the island vanish over time creating a 'holiday island'.

One option open to Highland Communities is to self-build. However, going through the process for the past three years building my own house this can be a daunting and stressful thing. Getting the grants to build your property is one thing but finding a suitable plot of land may be another. All may not be lost though as there seems to be help through organizations such as the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust and competitions for cost effective new housing like Our Island Home Design Competition. One of the benefits of the highlands vernacular is it lends itself to affordable construction methods and there are some great examples of this.

It’s a hard issue to deal with but with views like this outside of your windows the self-build route may be worth a shot!

Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust -

Matt Boynton