paper igloo architecture and design

(y)our island home competition

rural design

low cost housing

open design competition

energy efficient proposal

in 2013 we entered a two stage open design competition organised by Rural Housing Scotland and Architecture and Design Scotland (A+DS). Unusually the competition was only open to small practices, with 5 or fewer ARB registered staff members, and was entitled 'Our Island Home'.

The brief was to design a two bedroom house suitable for 3 varying island locations across the Hebrides which would be affordable to build and heat, due to the increasing number of households in fuel poverty living on the Scottish Islands. The objective of the competition was to help community landowners to use their land to enable the development of well designed warm, affordable housing for rent and ownership. The winning house is to be built on community owned land in three island locations.

Sadly we did not get short listed; we were proud of our entry nevertheless! Below is a summary of our submission...


A contemporary formal expression of the notion of ‘home’ at it’s most essential.

The building relates to the local Scottish vernacular architecture through it’s low-lying elongated form and (asymmetrically) pitched roof. A memorable form in the landscape, the building is at once comforting in it’s familiarity, and yet arresting in it’s apparent simplicity of detail. With a crisp clipped eaves line, and finely detailed deep window reveals, the highly resolved construction echoes aspects of local construction but in a contemporary manner. There is an injection of contemporary construction: the pre-fabricated pods, each unique in function and character, sit within the large single volume and organise the dwelling into ‘serving’ and ‘served’ spaces.


We designed a fully accessible dwelling suitable for several household typologies from the young to the elderly or infirm.

The space is conceived as a single volume in which the pods sit as identifiably different ‘boxes’ containing, or demarking, all of the functional aspects of a typical house: entry, work, wash, cook, store, sleep…. Living and dining take place in the remaining space, to the south, making the most of a view and the orientation.

The pre-fabricated ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ pods are factory constructed and transported to site virtually fully finished, minimising the number of on-site connections, and penetrations through the insulation envelope, required.