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Arc Architects wins Scottish affordable island house contest

Fife-based practice Arc Architects has won Rural Housing Scotland’s (RHS) competition to design an affordable island home

The studio saw off competition from six Scottish practices to win the two-stage ‘Our Island Home’ competition.

Anta Architecture, Dualchas Architects, Rural Design, Thorne Wyness Architects and Simon Wynstanley had all made it through to the second stage of the contest beating more than 50 entries from small practices across Scotland.

The competition asked architects to design an affordable two-bedroom starter home suitable for the rural Hebridean islands. With a budget of less than £100,000, the scheme had to be easy to build and cheap to heat.

Arc Architects’ winning house was designed to meet the vernacular of island life and included a porch for wellingtons, a larder, and an outdoor shed.

Chair of the judging panel Lesley Riddoch described the shortlisted schemes as ‘inspiring, practical, green and quite ingenious’, while the winning home was deemed ‘the most thoughtful submission’. 

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: ‘Housing is and will remain a priority for this government and we will continue to invest in new affordable homes, which are particularly needed in rural areas.

‘It’s great to give some of Scotland’s top architectural talent the opportunity to showcase their skills in a competition which is full of good intentions.’

RHS will now work with community landowners to build the winning scheme in several locations throughout the Hebrides. The first houses are planned for the Isle of Mull.

Previous story (AJ 06.12.13)

Scottish under-£100k home competition shortlist unveiled

Six practices have been shortlisted for the next stage of the Our Island Home competition run by Rural Housing Scotland (RHS)

Anta Architecture, Arc Architects, Dualchas Architects, Rural Design, Thorne Wyness Architects and Simon Winstanley Architects made the cut to design a £100,000 detached house that would be quick to build and affordable to young islanders living in remote locations.

The practices will get a £500 stipend towards stage two of the completion which asks them to draw up more detailed plans, with the winner receiving £1,500.

The scheme has been criticised for its small prize money. But RHS said it received 50 entries and it had expanded the shortlist from five to six due to the quality of submissions.

The shortlisted schemes will be exhibited at Architecture and Design Scotland, The Lighthouse, early next year.

Lesley Riddoch, chair of the judging panel said: ‘Thanks to all the practices who entered the competition, the quality of their submissions made our job very difficult’.

Shortlisted schemes have until January 31, 2014 to work on their design submissions.

The winning design will be announced Richard Lochhead, MSP Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, at the Rural Housing Scotland Conference on February 28.

Previous story (03.10.13)

Flak for Scottish under-£100k housing competition

A competition backed by Architecture and Design Scotland (A+DS) has been branded a ‘scandal’ with ‘particularly mean’ prize money

The two-stage Our Island Home competition run by Rural Housing Scotland (RHS) is seeking architects to design a £100,000 detached house to be built on three remote island locations.

Five shortlisted entrants will get a £500 stipend to go towards stage two of the completion which asks for the architects to draw up ‘detailed technical, deliverable designs, fully costed and technically robust’. The winner will receive £1,500.

Glasgow-based Alan Dunlop of Alan Dunlop Architects said: ‘It’s a scandal that A+DS should be promoting such a competition that asks for so much and promises so very, very little to the competition winners.

‘As usual, lots of ideas asked for, complex detailing and costing for a paltry reward and without the promise of a commission for the winning architect’.

David Jamieson, a partner in Edinburgh-based Zone Architects said prize money was always a ‘secondary consideration’ when entering competition but he said the A+DS competition was ‘particularly mean’ and contrasted it to a recent RIBA competition sponsored by contractor Wates for low cost housing in which the prize money was £6,000.

Jamieson, who said the practice was in two minds about entering the RHS competition, said: ‘We are keen to enter but it amounts to six weeks work just to get to the shortlist.  The second stage would be another six weeks for £1500 and that is only if you win.

‘You do competitions for the exposure and to test yourselves against other architects, but to ask architects to work for way less than the minimum wage is particularly mean,’ said Jamieson.

Oliver Chapman of Edinburgh-based Oliver Chapman Architects asked why RHS was bothering in the first place: ‘I was surprised that they didn’t seem to be aware of two or three Scottish architects/ manufacturers who are already offering £100k houses such as Rural Design Architects in Skye and Maker in Inverness.

‘It’s also a bit unfortunate that the BBC is broadcasting a whole series about how to build a house for under one hundred thousand pounds,’ added Chapman.

However, Chapman said that on the whole he thought the competition was a worthy one: ‘I don’t share Alan’s criticism. One has to bend over backwards for all sorts of clients and maybe this competition is more worthwhile and earnest than many private ones.’

And Simon Winstanley of Dumfries and Galloway-based Simon Winstanley Architects said that his practice would be entering despite the ‘pathetic prize money.’

‘In this respect it is fairly poor, but it is still a worthwhile competition,’ added Winstanley.

In a statement A+DS told AJ: ‘Creating Places – Scotland’s policy on architecture and place commits A+DS to promote and support innovative and emerging practice across Scotland.  As part of this, A+DS were asked by Rural Housing Scotland to provide support to ‘Our Island Home’…

‘Our involvement extends to providing one of the nine judges and to providing exhibition space to display the best entries. A+DS has made no financial contribution to the competition. 

‘The competition is run by Rural Housing Scotland who have clearly stated that copyright resides with the winning architect and that Rural Housing Scotland intend to build the winning design in at least three locations’.

RHS declined to comment.

To see the competition brief click here.

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