Taigh-Dubh (black houses)
Proposed information shelters for Wester Ross
Scottish Highlands, U.K.


The new information centres must be iconic and act as recognizable beacons in the Scottish Highlands. The proposals will invite visitors and provide a shelter from the weather.

The shelters will be three Black Houses entirely built out of locally sourced timber.


The inspiration behind the proposal comes from the traditional Scottish blackhouses (taigh-dubh) which had no chimneys for the smoke to escape through. Instead the smoke was making its way through the roof. The concept behind the shape of the new information shelters is in the same way to express a breathing roof which this time will be porous to light only, while keeping the rain out thanks to a glazed oculus.


The Black Houses will have a unique exterior finish consisting of slender charred timber boards which will offer a stunning dark appearance. The technique is ancestral and has been used as an alternative to non-renewable cladding materials. It is proposed to use Scottish larch which is sustainable and widely available in Scotland. While larch is already naturally strong and durable, the charring confers another level of protection against decay and fungi.


The charred timber will be installed as a ‘rainscreen’ with a drained and ventilated cavity to the rear.

The interior finish of the Black Houses will dramatically contrast with the exterior: the timber will be left raw in order to make it as bright as possible.

Inside the shelters it is proposed to have a single common sitting platform which will be used in various ways: waiting for the bus to come, laying down maps or simply pick-nick when the clouds gather. All three Black Houses have their front and side walls open in order to keep clear views to the outside and the oncoming buses. They also have a back wall for maps and displaying leaflets