The Glebe Field

  • Public Residential
  • Isle of Iona
  • Dec 2011 - Ongoing

Roots Design Workshop were appointed by a local community group in early 2012 to design 5 new affordable housing units for local residents on the Isle of Iona. The design responds to traditional rural architecture and the architecture of its time, and is respectful of its natural and built surroundings whilst representing the continued and ongoing development of the community.

A single house type was developed that could be adapted and repeated as necessary across the site. The resulting house type has a simple 1 room deep rectangular plan with its accommodation spread over one-and-a-half storeys. On the ground floor the Living and Kitchen/Dining spaces sit either side a central ‘service’ core, containing the entrance Lobby, Wet Room, Utility Room/back Lobby and the stair. On the first floor, two Bedrooms are sited at either end of a corridor, off which the main Bathroom and Store are also located. The Living Room contains a solid fuel stove served by a masonry chimney. In the 3 Bed unit the ground floor plan is slightly different (the first floor plan is the same); the third Bedroom occupies the space used as the Living in the 2 Bed unit, while the Living and Dining occupy the space used as the Dining and Kitchen in the 2 Bed unit, and the Kitchen in the 3 Bed unit is then located in an additional single storey space adjacent to the Dining space.

Externally, the house has a minimal and traditional set of materials and finishes. This includes natural lime render for the walls and a real slate roof. Durable timber-framed windows are used and the openings are surrounded by painted ‘frames’. Each house’s ‘frames’ are painted in a different colour to generate a sense of individuality; the pallet being taken from the sea, sky and landscapes around. Natural stone is used in the low walls at the front of each house.

The layout of the houses on the site was also important and the team gave great consideration as to how the houses should be laid to ensure an efficient design, but one that complemented its surroundings.  The layout therefore takes account of it’s position on the edge of the township and refers to building terraces found in the village. The houses are divided into two parts; this breaks up the visual mass of the terrace and allows the development to be phased if required by funding. The terrace sits on the flattest part of the site and works with the existing contours wherever possible; minimising groundworks. The site is surrounded by a new post and wire fence which extends between plots in the back garden. Lower stone mowing strips separate the front gardens. Finally, infrastructure such as bins, drying areas and garden sheds are screened to minimise their visual impact.

Roots Design Workshop believe the traditional scale, form, materiality and fenestration of the houses has lead to the creation of a new rural house type; one that will contribute to the ongoing stability of an important island community.


Project Team

Client:  Iona Housing Partnership
Structural Engineer:  John Peden Associates
Quantity Surveyor:  Morham & Brotchie (Oban)
CDMC:  Morham & Brotchie (Oban)


Want to learn more?

If you have a building project in mind, or simply require specialist guidance, please do not hesitate to contact us. We offer free, no obligation design consultations to help projects get started, so we would be delighted to hear from you.

Roots Design Workshop provides professional design, technical and project management services. We specialise in modern interpretations of traditional buildings, and have particular expertise in renewable and energy efficient designs.

We work on both private and public building projects and with new and old buildings, and can provide services for Feasibility, Planning, Building Warrant, Specification and Construction stages. Our practice is accredited by recognised industry bodies, such as the Royal Institute for Architects in Scotland and the Architect’s Registration Board.

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The Glebe Field Proposals