New house in Caithness has simplicity at its heart

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A new-build home, known affectionately to its owners as the Shack, recently emerged on a wind-lashed promontory in the Pentland firth, on one of the most northerly tips of mainland Scotland. It took an almighty effort to get it there, and it might never have happened at all had Tim Crocker and Kathy Csorogi not caught a chance glimpse of architect Mary Arnold-Forster on television.
The couple, from Australia, had been looking for some time for a permanent base to call home, and their journey to Thurso took a few twists and turns along the way. “We left Western Australia in 2007, spending all our frequent-flyer points on a pair of one-way business-class tickets to London,” recalls Kathy. “We then went to visit my dad, who at the time was living in Alness, in the Highlands. That was when Tim spotted a road sign for Thurso. It was a name he’d first heard many years before, when a friend and fellow surfer in Australia had mentioned that it was a great surf spot with amazing waves. So we decided to take a detour to go and see Thurso, and it stayed in our minds for a long time afterwards.”
Kathy and Tim liked Scotland so much they decided to settle there. They worked for a spell in Perthshire before being drawn back to Thurso in 2009, where they rented a house. It was around this time that they saw Mary Arnold-Forster of Dualchas Architects (she has since set up a new practice under her own name) discussing the building her own house on TV. “We thought that if we were ever to build a house of our own, we’d get her to do it,” says Kathy. “We loved the simplicity and materials of the Shed [the architect’s house on Skye] and the way it sits in the landscape – it seemed so natural.”
“At this time we were talking about getting some land, looking at a few plots but ruling out anything that was too remote, both for Kathy to be here alone while I was at work, and for getting to an airport,” continues Tim, an oil rig driller, who travels frequently and works all over the world. “We found the plot by chance – Kathy drove past it and saw a painted For Sale sign with a phone number. The deal was done and the land was ours in October 2009. Mary made her first site visit the following month.”

This is just a taster, you can browse the full article with more stunning photography on pages 128-136, issue 108.

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What An energy efficient timber-framed house
Where Thurso, Caithness
Architect Dualchas
Photography David Barbour
Words Caroline Ednie