A sensitive site and an eco-friendly specification made for a challenging build to create this striking home on the Isle of Mull.
Torr Buan House, on the Isle of Mull, was built in 2003 to take advantage of the outstanding views, which must be among the most dramatic in Scotland.
Designed in an arc shape with an expanse of glass dominating the west and south elevations, the house is set on the shores of the Ulva Sound and enjoys a breathtaking panoramic aspect.
With views to the holy island of Iona and the Isle of Ulva, it allows a 180 degree outlook which is almost cinematic.
Sam Woodhouse’s parents, Joy and David, built the house to retire to, after running a boutique hotel in Tobermory. Sam and his three siblings were born and raised on the island and Sam was in his late teens when the house was built as something of a family project.
It was designed by a local architect, Martin Hadlington, who worked with Scottish Natural Heritage.
The site is in a national scenic area so the remit included stipulations that the house had to be in keeping with its surroundings and it had to be sensitively placed in terms of the views from the road.
Sam says: “We were also keen to design the house around the views of the Hebrides and include significant eco-friendly measures – my dad runs wildlife trips so that was important.”
The site contains the remains of two blackhouses and a ruined Victorian house but had no amenities.
He says: “There was no road, just 500 metres of peat bog, so we had to bring in electricity and water and build a road.
"It is also an archaeologically important site, so we also had to keep the blackhouses intact and archaeologists had to be on site while we built the foundations to make sure nothing was disturbed.”
He admits: “It was a challenging build because of the site, its island location and also the specification was very high.
“The whole house, which is mostly timber frame, is lined with sheep’s wool, which has great thermal qualities and is environmentally friendly, but we had to ship in 40 cubic metres of it, which seems counter-intuitive on a Hebridean island.”
The logistics were typical of a project in a small village. Sam says: “We borrowed the forklift from the local fish farm to bring materials on site.”
The roof, which is substantial as it almost goes to ground level at the north-facing rear of the property, is of reclaimed Ballachulish slate. Sam says: “It is beautifully patinated with lichen and matches the wild grass and the birch trees surrounding it.”
Decking running along the front forms a viewing platform to make the most of the outlook.
And what a view; from the snow-tipped cap of Ben More and 1,000ft sea cliffs, it stretches across the sea loch to the isle of Inch Kenneth and in the distance takes in the Ross of Mull to the white beaches of Iona and a glimpse of its abbey.
To the right you see Ulva and the landscape that inspired Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture.
The glazing at the front of the house has been designed to frame it and is raised to three metres on the left, in order to take in the tip of Ben More.
But Sam says: “The glazing isn’t just about the view, it is also about solar gain. High insulation and triple glazing is really all that matters in the Hebrides.
"With a low-lying sun in winter the house can be 25 degrees without heating.”
Highlights of the interior include a vaulted sitting room with exposed ceiling beams, an open fire and full-height windows, while the U-shaped kitchen has a black Aga, integrated appliances and a pantry.
A study and lower bedroom suite, with sitting room and ensuite shower room, can be privately accessed as a self- contained unit, and the Woodhouses have used it to offer bed and breakfast.
The house has a private track and nearly two acres of land, plus the stone ruins could be developed.
Jamie McNeill of Savills says: “This truly is a one-of-a-kind property in an incredible coastal location.
"Secluded, surrounded by an amazing array of seabirds, wildlife and all the sailing opportunities offered by island living, the interior is light and airy, reflecting the seascape outside, but it also has a warm and welcoming feel for when the weather becomes more dramatic.
“I love the fact that this house is literally shaped around the magnificent view.”
Torr Buan House is on the market for offers over £495,000 with Savills.