Having a vision for “a house” is one thing, but what it actually becomes is often quite another! It is very easy to put up a square, boring box - even with contemporary twists, it’s still a box! Of course, boxes are relatively cheap to design and to build - usually they come as kits. And building a house on an island is not the same as on the mainland - materials have to cross the sea, and labour and skills are in very short supply. So, the easier the better - right?
We started off with a box - and tried to get a design that would be a more contemporary version of a traditional Scottish rural cottage. More glass, higher ceilings. But … it just didn’t feel quite right. It would stick out as a white box on the hillside.
We then came across Stuart Bagshaw’s designs for buildings that blended into the landscape - Blue Reef (our neighbours) is a good example. This was much more inspirational, and we started working with Stuart and his team to create a new concept for a curved house that took advantage of the stunning views, had a sheltered rear area that enabled viewing through the house, and had two storeys and an observatory on the top.
So, we had a fabulous concept - but making it practical was the start of a long and tortuous journey of discovery.
Getting such a house built is very different from having a great concept. The sheer complexity of managing a completely unique project meant that local builders were very cautious and unwilling to commit in the way that we needed. Sharp intakes of breath when asked about cost, questions about the structure that couldn’t be answered, and “we’ll solve it when we get to it” were becoming the norm. And for anyone who isn’t a Russian oligarch or lottery winner, this approach opened up way too much risk.
So for quite a few years, we didn’t actually start anything - and our land stayed as a green field.