House No.7 cottage and extensions
on the Isle of Tiree by Denizen Works


London studio Denizen Works has overhauled a cottage in Scotland's Outer Hebrides by rebuilding the original structure and adding two extensions modelled on agricultural sheds (+ slideshow).

House No.7 by Denizen Works

Architect Murray Kerr of Denizen Works completed this project for his parents, who had bought an ageing house on the Isle of Tiree and planned to renovate it and live there for five months of the year.

House No.7 by Denizen Works

After discovering the original structure was beyond repair, the architect had to instead rebuild it before adding two new wings that are designed to reference the local agricultural vernacular.

House No.7 by Denizen Works

"The concept was to create a traditional cottage with agricultural sheds around it, as if the building had grown organically over time," Kerr told Dezeen.

House No.7 by Denizen Works

The stone cottage now functions as a guest house, with bedrooms on both floors and a generous living room.

House No.7 by Denizen Works

Behind it, a bunker-like structure is used as the main house. The exterior of this building is made from galvanised steel and corrugated fibre cement, and it has a curved roof profile.

House No.7 by Denizen Works

The upper level houses a large timber-lined kitchen and dining room, while stairs lead down to an en suite bedroom that is slightly sunken into the ground.

House No.7 by Denizen Works

"The idea was to create a robust outside, contrasting with the light and airy space inside," said Kerr.

House No.7 by Denizen Works

The base of the structure is created from the same stone as the cottage walls, helping to tie the two structures together. "After rebuilding the old house, we had some stones left over, so we reused them elsewhere," added the architect.

House No.7 by Denizen Works

A third wing was also added and serves as a utility area. It contains a laundry area, a wet room where residents can clean sand off their shoes and a studio that children can use for painting.

House No.7 by Denizen Works

Photography is by David Barbour.

Here's a project description from Denizen Works:

House No.7, Heanish, Isle of Tiree, Scotland


We were commissioned in October 2010 to produce a design for a new house on the site of a ruined, B-listed black-house on the Isle of Tiree on the west coast of Scotland. We developed a concept that comprises two houses, a Living-house and a Guesthouse, linked by a Utility wing. Together the elements combine to create a bold insertion into the landscape while reflecting the character and heritage of the island.

House No.7 by Denizen Works

In keeping with the philosophy of Denizen Works, the language of the house was driven by an examination of the local vernacular, materials and building forms with the architecture of the Living-house and Utility taking their lead from the local agricultural buildings combining soft roof forms, chimneys and corrugated cladding.

House No.7 by Denizen Works

Setting off the utilitarian accommodation is the Guesthouse with its deep-set stone walls, black and white palette and black tarred roof resulting in a building that is tied to the landscape and unmistakably of Tiree.

House No.7 by Denizen Works

The Site

Tiree is the western most of the Inner Hebrides, accessible from the mainland via ferry services from Oban or by air from Glasgow airport and enjoys more hours of sunlight than any other location in the British Isles. At around 7.8 ha and with a population of around 750, the island is highly fertile providing fantastic grazing land for livestock due to the mineral rich 'machair' that covers the land mass.

House No.7 by Denizen Works

Located on the southern coast of the island, House No.7 is accessed by a grass track and enjoys fantastic views of Duin bay to the south and a typical Tiree landward aspect of lightly undulating machair and traditional housing settlements.

House No.7 by Denizen Works

Like most places on Tiree, the siting of the house is very exposed, with no natural land mass or vegetation to provide shelter from the wind. The design challenge, given the exposure to the elements, was to create a design that maximises shelter from the wind giving places of shelter on all sides, while allowing sunlight to penetrate and warm the house inside and out while utilising the breeze to aid natural ventilation.

Site plan of House No.7 by Denizen Works
Site plan


The Living-house, containing living/kitchen/dining spaces with master bedroom below, functions as the social heart of the new home. The living space is a half level up from the entrance with the master bedroom sunk into the landscape with views to the sheltered garden. Access to the garden, created by the removal of the sand blow build up around the existing cottage, and the beach is from the southern end of the space.

Basement plan of House No.7 by Denizen Works
Basement plan - click for larger image

The Guesthouse is constructed in the stone from the original cottage containing two guest bedrooms, a bathroom and a quiet snug/entertaining room with an open link to the main hall in the utility.

Ground floor plan of House No.7 by Denizen Works
Ground floor plan - click for larger image

The Utility is the functional heart of the building containing laundry facilities along with a wet room in which to clean off the sand from the beach or fish scales from the sea and a studio/lego room for painting and play. This third element, with the feel of a covered outdoor space, seamlessly links the other elements of the house allowing family and guests to interact as they choose.

First floor plan of House No.7 by Denizen Works
First floor plan - click for larger image

The interior of the house offers a counterpoint to the robust architecture of the exterior, filled with natural light; the finishes are intentionally robust with inspiration for the palette taken from local Tiree architecture. Heating is provided through an air-source heat pump.

Long section of House No.7 by Denizen Works
Long section - click for larger image
Cross section of House No.7 by Denizen Works
Cross section - click for larger image
  • Functionalbeauty

    Is it my imagination or does this look like a couple of caravans, one British, one American stuck on the side? Complete lack of understanding of the context or the island build language.

    • omnicrom

      I think it is rather appropriate. Corrugate tin is big up in the highlands and islands and it’s a nice re-use of a ruin. It’s not exactly my cup of tea style-wise, but to say there is a complete lack of understanding is a bit harsh.

    • Douglas Montgomery

      That would have been the response two hundred years ago to the original cottage.

  • NorthernArchitect

    Lovely aspects of the project but the architect has failed to understand the very specific and unique traditional vernacular of Tiree. The Highlands and islands cover a large geographical area and a blanket approach to the design of rural architecture can not be applied.

  • Scott @ Haptic

    Beautiful work. Well done.

  • alchemy

    I can’t believe the critical response to this scheme. Visually interesting, nice use of contrasting materials and solid layout all combine to produce a great piece of architecture.

  • Ageibaz

    Sorry guys. While I salute your efforts, I would be happily surprised if these chimneys survive the next storm force 13 that comes along. I was raised in South Uist in a traditional thatched cottage and I can assure you that there are extremely sound reasons for the stubby chimneys, the low to the ground profile and the rounded corners to these extremely
    practical homes.

    In my home village only a few years ago, two carloads of a family retreated from a modern house to a safer, traditional cottage in the midst of a severe storm.

  • Concerned Citizen

    “In keeping with the philosophy of Denizen Works, the language of the house was driven by an examination of the local vernacular, materials and building forms…”

    However, based on the photographs there is nothing like those culverts anywhere within the expansive view. Who comes up with this rationalisation? If you are going to compare it with “local vernacular”, shouldn’t there be some resemblance somewhere nearby? And what makes the “local vernacular” the correct choice? It appears to be more like caravans, as the other poster stated.

  • Olgiati

    Beautiful scheme, too many know-it-alls and carpers commenting today, I say show me yours. Creating architecture in the UK is all but impossible so well done to this team and client.

    • Nigel Robson

      Just come back from a week in another cottage close by on the same Machair and was fascinated by the new building beside what I assumed was a renovated not rebuilt cottage off to the right of the one I was living in. I think it absolutely wonderful and imaginative use of materials.

      It looks wonderfully new and indeed there is a connection, although a slim one, to US structures of the 20th C, but the modern clarity of finish and shape is totally within balance within the immediate area of the grasses and the bay.

      I felt more and more drawn to it while there and wished I was staying there with my companion rather than in the pleasant Ikea environment of my own rented cottage.

      Bravo Murray, and lucky parents for having such beautiful commitment to Tiree’s world. It is at the same time distinctive, imaginative and sensitive to the environs too. Mmmmm! I so wish I’d been able to stay there. ….Nigel Robson.

  • hilary1973

    The Beaufort scale goes up to 12! And that family was tragically washed off a causeway to their death.