Malcolmson Architects

Upper sound is a district which used to sit outside Lerwick. Over the years however Lerwick has expanded and has eventually engulfed the houses of the original inhabitants. The client was presented with an unexpected opportunity to build a new house at the edge of this development that would give them back their feeling of space and belonging to a place. This new house sits right on the edge of the expanded town and its elevated position commands spectacular views taking in Lerwick in its entirety, the islands to the north and most of the coastline of Shetland southwards.

Not surprisingly the brief for this house was to provide a modern, energy efficient house that could exploit these views whilst retaining some degree of privacy. The clients are both retired but they still have a large extended family. They therefore they needed the house to feel cosy with 2 people living in it for most of the time but be able to accommodate many guests on a temporary basis without feeling crowded.

The solution was to divide the house into two distinct buildings and join them together with an entrance area which doubles as a sun space and extra lounge.

The first building is a long house and contains the main living, kitchen, dining and sleeping accommodation the client will use on a daily basis. Everything they need is on one level with the kitchen as the hub of the house. Externally the building is expressed as a modern interpretation of a traditional Scottish croft house with white wet dash harl walls apart from the walls of the living areas overlooking the views which are totally glazed.

The second building houses the ancillary accommodation and a garage with a sleeping loft for grandchildren above. This block is pulled back from and set at an angle to the main house. This not only affords a degree of privacy from the houses behind but creates a space between the two buildings which is used as the main entrance. The building is expressed externally as a Scandinavian timber weatherboarded house painted bright red.

The walls to the central space are glass and the floor finishes are kept hard to emphasise the inside out space. A large circular larder acts as a knuckle on the plan containing the entrance, giving order to the shift in angle of the garage and controlling the circulation into the main house. This space represents old Shetland, placed between Scotland and Scandinavia with a private view of old upper sound with no houses in sight. The central area is roofed over with a flat grass roof which extends beyond to provide a sheltered entrance and ‘sitootery’. This also allows the flanking buildings to be expressed with pitched roofs in slate.


Upper Sound


Iain Malcolmson


Peter and Grace Malcolmson






  • Residential