Highlands vernacular meets high modernism in a Cairngorms hut by Moxon Architects


Located in the Cairngorms National Park in the Scottish Highlands, Culardoch Shieling is a hut designed by Moxon Architects. Located at the foot of Culardoch, the remote shieling (Scottish Gaelic for ‘hut’) looks out across the expanse of the scenic upper Glen Gairn. With a floor area of 47 square metres and built for £70,000, the building is intended as a contemporary interpretation of simple vernacular structures such as Scottish crofts, shepherds’ huts and Swiss Alpine shelters.


Commissioned by Iwan and Manuela Wirth of art dealer Hauser & Wirth, the hut provides a place for entertaining on their highland estate, and so is focussed on a long dining table. Moxon’s design maximises the spectacular views of the surrounding landscape, while ensuring that the all-timber building has minimal impact on the terrain itself. The structure comprises a simple cruck frame with overhanging eaves and a roof finished in heather, moss and stone, which helps the hut to harmonise with the highland landscape when viewed from above.


As well as taking cues from vernacular shelters, the design is informed by twentieth-century modernism, says the architect. The monolithic form alludes to the work of Alvar Aalto, and the irregular cut-out windows reference those at Le Corbusier’s Notre Dame Du Haut chapel at Ronchamp. At the shieling, the window arrangement is composed so as to frame views of particular landscape features, such as the granite tors on the top of Ben Avon and a bend in the river Gairn. The deep-set windows also ensure a degree of privacy for the clients’ gatherings. Inside, the hut is clad in spruce throughout. A wood-burning stove ensures the hut can be used during the long winter months.

Additional Images


Moxon Architects
Cost consultant
McCue Porter
Main contractor
AJC Boyne
The Rooflight Company