We all like to dream about having a remote getaway, but for Helen Lucas, the dream became a reality, with a stunning timber-framed building right on the coast, with privileged views of the islands of Eigg and Rhum.
An architect herself, Helen designed the building with her husband – also an architect – after buying the land from a friend. The site, on a remote part of the west coast of Scotland, is a rocky slope on the edge of the sea.
The building has been designed to have as little impact on the environment as possible – being raised above the coastline on oak beams, and without any of the rocky coast being changed.
Built by Carpenter Oak & Woodland, a UK company with permanent offices in Scotland in Kirriemuir, Angus, the home is a highly contemporary design built from green oak and Douglas fir, with a pitched stainless steel roof. The oblong house had to be designed and built to fit in with the landscape, constructed as it is between a large rocky outcrop and a lively stream. As well as building the house, Carpenter Oak & Woodland also built a two-metre footbridge to provide access from the road to the house itself.
Making the house ecologically friendly – to have an ambitious zero carbon footprint – was always part of the brief. From the cotton and hemp insulation to the 860 trees that Helen and her husband replanted locally (to compensate for the 86 used to build the house) attention was paid to ecology at every stage.
Restricted access to the site meant that there was simply no way to use a crane, so the house was constructed from components small enough to be managed with little mechanical aid.
The completed building, called Frisealach (Gaelic for Frasers’ Place), is a stunning success. It manages to become part of the landscape without affecting it, carrying off a thoroughly modern design that blends in perfectly with the surroundings. From the inside, it provides a commanding view of the coast, sea and Inner Hebrides.
Helen remains enthusiastic about how well the construction went, given the restrictions imposed by the site. “Perhaps what impressed me most about Carpenter Oak & Woodland, apart from their enthusiasm, was their can-do attitude – confidence which comes only from experience.”
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