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RIAS Awards 2021 - Scottish Forestry/Wood For Good Timber Award

Winner Announced

RIAS Awards 2021 – Sutherland modular home wins Scottish Forestry/Wood For Good Award

An Cala – a two bedroom modular home in Sutherland designed by Mary Arnold-Forster Architects – has won the Scottish Forestry/Wood For Good Award, a special category award of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland’s (RIAS) Awards.

An Cala overlooks a Loch Nedd and a landscape characterised by rock, heather, peat and grass. Although there was planning permission for a conventional, white walled slate roof house on the site, Mary Arnold-Forster Architects’ low, single storey house celebrates and respects the landscape by lifting the building up off the land, using lightweight timber construction to avoid a concrete slab or disturbing any of the rock beneath.

The house was designed on a fixed grid that related to the size of lorry that could navigate the tortuous road leading to the site. The contractor Carbon Dynamic built the home’s 13 modules in their factory near Inverness, before these were delivered to site and erected in just four days.

Each module is built of fir-lined cross laminated timber, with a wood fibre external insulation and a charred, thin and sometimes askew larch rainscreen cladding – an interpretation of the birch in winter. Inside, a timber-lined corridor linking the three main living spaces ends in a framed view of Loch Nedd. The building is incredibly robust in the face of strong winds, and requires no heating apart from a wood burner and a few panel heaters. An Cala’s construction means that it could potentially be taken down and moved, while the larch cladding panels can be lifted off with no fixings for easy repair or reuse.

RIAS President Christina Gaiger PRIAS said:

“It would have been so easy to build another white-walled bungalow on this site – so all credit to Mary Arnold-Forster Architects and their clients for daring to do something different. The result is outstanding – a truly beautiful home that demonstrates the incredible versatility and environmental benefits of building with wood. An Cala is a real exemplar – demonstrating that low-energy and low-impact timber construction will be fundamental as we tackle the climate emergency, without any compromise in terms of architectural quality or comfort.

“I am very grateful to Scottish Forestry/Wood For Good for sponsoring this special award, and for their important work alongside the RIAS to promote sustainable timber construction.”

For more information about the winners of the 2021 RIAS Awards visit


For more information about the winners of the 2021 RIAS Awards visit HERE.


Steven Harding, Goodfellow Communications
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