Cnoc Soilleir

We won a bid in 2015 for a feasibility study for a building to be located on South Uist that would provide a base for the client, a collaboration between Lews Castle College, University of the Highlands and Islands (LCC/UHI) and Ceolas, a charity with the aim of promoting and teaching traditional Gaelic culture to local, national and international communities. The building is to be used for LCC/UHI teaching throughout the year and during the summer, to host the Ceolas summer school, a series of workshops teaching Gaelic culture and which is attended by local, national and international visitors every year.

The brief for the building is for a series of high quality teaching spaces with recording studios and performance spaces. The building needs to be comfortable to spend time in with excellent acoustics, environmentally conscious and beautiful with a strong connection to the landscape.

Through a series of community consultations the site for the building was selected as Daliburgh, to the North of a small hillock named Cnoc Soilleir (the rough english translation being the hill of the sun). 

The building is designed to achieve Passivhaus certification with highly insulated existing walls, high performance windows, low running costs for the client and a significantly lower carbon footprint over its life. The building sits on an insulated raft giving almost thermal bridge free construction.

The building is a steel frame supporting and external ‘skin’ of highly insulated timber cassettes. The mass of the building was carefully considered so that the building sits within the landscape and doesn’t dominate the adjacent Church. Cladding materials have been selected for durability and positioned on the building so as to reduced the visual mass of the building. The forms composing the building have taken cues from traditional forms whilst also meeting the Passivhaus requirement for simple forms.


The building has been phased with the eastern end of the building housing the classrooms, offices, library, control room suite and social hub and is due to be completed by mid-2021. The second stage, western end of the building will house the auditorium, dance studio and green rooms with additional social spaces.

The Team

Stage: Construction

Client: LCC UHI & Ceolas

Structural Engineer: David Narro Associates

Civil Engineer: David Narro Associates

Quantity Surveyor: Ralph Ogg & Partners

Contractor: McInnes Bros