Cliff House, Isle of Skye

RIBA Manser Medal shortlisted

Set on the edge of a steep escarpment, with its entrance elevation cut into the hillside itself, the house designed by Dualchas Architects commands a panoramic view over Loch Dunvegan and distant views to the north east.

The open character of the main living room and kitchen space is one distinct volume. A short corridor connects the two bedrooms which enjoy the same full height fenestration and dramatic views. The bathrooms and service accommodation are contained in separate volumes, alongside the entrance which is roughly central to the plan.

This new home is gradually revealed to the visitor by means of a curved path, and its drama is only fully apparent on entry. The shift in character which becomes apparent within the building is reflected in the materials of its construction with Caithness stone used for the retaining wall and larch for the open plan main rooms.

The architecture is determinedly minimalist, with polished concrete floors and the exclusion of features such as skirtings or architraves. The single space, with its wall of glass and supplementary balancing natural light from clerestory glazing between the roof joists, is completely satisfying. Combining both shelter and drama, it is both respectful of its special location and a superb contemporary dwelling for its inhabitants.