New Community Hub,

An Laimhrig, Isle of Eigg

Our second feasibility study on the incredible Isle of Eigg, this time to explore options for a new community hub.

Completed in 1998, within twelve months of the islanders’ community buy-out of Eigg, the existing tearoom and shop has reached bursting point and can’t quite serve the needs of the burgeoning island population and 10,000-plus annual visitors.

Occupying a fairly tight site, and with a complex brief to accommodate a variety of different functions - including a microbrewery - the project has involved extensive community consultation and engagement to find out what residents and visitors really need.

The biggest question: should the existing building be retained in the proposals OR should it be replaced entirely?

Read on...

(With thanks to Ben Cormack of Picarus for the spectacular drone images of the site.)

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Lots of information came out of the initial  consultation - including a clear response that half of folk wanted the existing building demolished and the other half wanted it kept!

To help explore this further with the islanders design proposals were developed for two distinct options:  one that re-used the existing building and one that started afresh.

Option One: Retain and extend the existing building

1. A number of historical ‘clachans’ (small settlements) on Eigg are arranged so that a series of small buildings face onto a central area

2. Taking the domestic-scaled gable of the existing building and manipulating this creates rhythm without becoming monotonous

3. Applying this to the existing building and the site to the east creates a sheltered, welcoming and coherent set of buildings with a clear sense of place for those arriving on - and leaving - the island

Option Two: A completely new set of buildings

1. Eigg’s geological landscape is characterised by basalt ‘dykes’ -hardened lava flows that remain after the surrounding rock has eroded - though there are fewer around the site

2. Using the existing topography a new ‘dyke’ is created that grows out of the landscape to create a strong form and provide shelter

3. Vertically-oriented windows break up the bulk of the ‘dyke’, much as dykes weather naturally, and its scale disguises the form and mass of the remaining new buildings, allowing them to appear gradually as boat visitors approach from the south

Draft final design

Both sets of design options were presented to Eigg residents, leading to an overwhelming consensus for the existing building to be retained and adapted, and for it to be substantially extended to provide the additional space required.

During the consultation a wide range of constructive comments and ideas were offered on how the design could be adjusted to better meet the needs of islanders and visitors, and these were incorporated into the refined design proposals, which you can see below.

Don’t forget to have a look at the fly-through to get a feel for how the different spaces work together.

[ Click image to go to fly-through ]

View from south


Meeting room

View from lookout

View from north

Updated final design

After getting costs updated and speaking to funders it became clear that the scale of ambition on the project would have to be reigned in a bit, so we updated the final design.

To pare back costs to the minimum possible the existing ‘green shed’ will

be kept and converted into the communal plant room and an industrial unit, while the existing building will be extended using the same gable profile.

The welcoming public space of the previous design will be created by the

combination of the canopy-edged extension and the green shed.

This reconfiguration will put the tearoom and a new bar into the extension (with a vaulted ceiling), while Eigg Adventures and the shop will occupy the existing building.