The Lighthouse – Tog Studio 2012

  • Tog Studio Live-Build
  • Isle of Tiree
  • June 2012

Tog is a Gaelic word meaning many things in varying contexts. It can be used to describe hoisting the sails of a boat (tog na siùil), the way the weather will improve (togaidh an latha) or to sing a song (tog fonn). It also means to ‘build’, ‘raise’, ‘educate’ and ‘excite’. This was the ambition behind tog studio; a new live-build summer school.

tog studio was conceived by a team of recent Scottish architecture and engineering graduates; including Chris and Micheal from Roots Design Workshop.  The motivation was to address the gaps they believe are missing from conventional education. The emphasis is on teaching practical building skills and collaborative teamwork on real projects in beautiful locations.

The inaugural tog studio live-build summer school was hosted on the Isle of Tiree, in June 2012, and was open to anyone with a passion for the craft of building; students, architects, engineers, trade apprentices and members of the local community.

The site of the build was the base which Alan Stevenson used to construct his Skerryvore Lighthouse, 11 miles south west of Tiree. In acknowledgement of this, the tog studio 2012 participants designed and built their own temporary wooden ‘lighthouse’ which would act as a beacon for the ambitions of the new summer school.

The structure was designed around standard lengths of Scottish timber (C16 Sitka Spruce) with two main frames tied together by cross-beams and internal platforms. These platforms were built sequentially from bottom to top, negating the need for scaffolding and limiting the amount of work done on ladders. Intermediate steps were added between platforms to break up the change in level and create a helical ascent to the top; imagined as a spiral staircase rising to the top of the lighthouse.

Excessive foundations were minimised with each post sitting on a paving slab. Ground anchors fixed around the perimeter of the base helped keep the structure in place. Once secure, the structure was clad with vertical timber fins, with concealed fixings from the inside, to make the finished lighthouse appear taller and thinner.

More information about this project can be found at the tog studio website.

Photograph by Neil Boyd.

GIA Design Award Winner 2012 – ‘Small Works’ and ‘Wood for Good’


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 is a professionally accredited architectural practice. We specialise in contemporary designs of traditional rural buildings. We have particular expertise in sustainable, energy efficient solutions. We offer architectural design and project management services.  We have experience of working on restorations, alterations, extensions and new builds.  Our Clients range from private individuals to public national bodies.  We work on feasibility studies, planning permissions, building warrants, technical specification packages and can manage building work on site.

Our aim has been to make our services available to the isolated and under-served communities in rural Scotland.

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Tog 2013 Lighthouse