Beco Wallform

Making the Most of a Constrained Site

A small plot of land overlooking Mallaig harbour in the Western Highlands of Scotland, nestling between the base of a hill and the shore of the bay, it presented a number of technical issues for the architect and builder to overcome in fitting an interesting modern home into this unique setting.

Project Brief

The brief looked for a design that maximised the location and the view across a busy harbour to the Isle of Skye with the jagged outline of the Cullin mountains in the background, framed by the light from an ever-changing sky. It had to provide lounge, kitchen, utility space and two double bedrooms as well as a terrace to command the stunning view.


It was a small and awkwardly shaped plot with additional constraints that made the useable portion even smaller – an adjacent public footpath, running water and restricted building line. This posed a real challenge which the architect, Nigel Johnston, rose to by shaping the “upside down” building footprint to fit the plot, increasing the perception of space by clever incorporation of balconies and terracing. Careful location of screening insulates the home from neighbouring traffic and focusses attention on the spectacular views from the building.

Highland weather, while glorious at its best, can be very unforgiving over the winter months. Hence the design was required to be very thermally efficient while maximising the natural light coming into the building. Specification of the Wallform ICF system resolved the problems of limited site access and bad weather working, and an air permeability of just 1.90 m³/h.m² is indicative of the quality of construction from a first time user of this method of building.

Key features of the design were the use of Beco Wallform for the structure with silicon rendering on the outside, large aluminium framed triple glazed windows and external sliding doors, with underfloor heating plus hot water supplied from an air sourced heat pump system (ASHP).

This project was shortlisted for the Build It Awards 2019 Best Self Build for under £250K. Find out more about this project

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