Isles of Mull & Iona
About Mull & Iona
The Isle of Mull is the second largest island in the Inner Hebrides. Mull has a resident population close to 3000 people and an area of around 340 square miles; approximately half the size of the Isle of Skye to the north. The landscape of Mull is mountainous with impressive cliffs and forests that contrast greatly with the low lying sand dunes of other islands in the archipelago such as Tiree & Coll. The recognisable pinnacle of Ben More can easily be spotted from Tiree as it rises 966m above sea level. The Isle of Mull is situated an hour by ferry from Oban, which establishes a closer relationship with the mainland and a wide appeal as a tourist destination for visitors on day trips and shorter breaks.
The Isle of Iona is one of the most atmospheric places in Scotland. Located a 15 minute ferry ride west of Fionnphort in the Ross of Mull it is small but beautiful island surrounded by turquoise water. Roughly one hundredth of the size of Mull, Iona is just under 3.5 square miles and supports a population of 180 people. The Isle of Iona is most famously known for Iona Abbey which is one of the most significant religious buildings in Western Europe and one of the most important archaeological sites in Scotland. It is revered as the place where St Columba brought Christianity to Britain from Ireland in the 6th Century and has subsequently become a place of pilgrimage for visitors from all over the world.
Architecture of Mull & Iona
The remains of brochs, standing stones and burial cairns have indicated that the Isle of Mull has been inhabited since around the time of 6000BC. As a larger island in the region, there architecture there is as varied as the people who have lived there throughout its long history. From various castles that were once clan strongholds, to the colourful iconic terraced seafront of Tobermory, to stand alone stone cottages the island is enriched with many beautiful traditional buildings.
On the Isle of Iona (pictured above) Baile Mor; the main settlement on the island is a protected conservation area, and this has helped to retain the traditional qualities of the village, which stretches from the pier to Iona Abbey around 500m away. Baile Mor is an enjoyable place for a stroll consisting of buildings that are well detailed and appropriate to the scale of the island. It is striking that all of the houses look east across the water to Mull in a very linear development between the pier and the Abbey. The slate roofs, dormer windows and beautiful stone walls and chimneys help to ascertain the quality of the place.
Roots Projects on Mull & Iona
A project that we are most proud of on Mull is Dobhran Cottage. It was one of the first Roots projects to be built and has brought a derelict traditional cottage in Lochbuie back into use as a contemporary holiday home. We are particularly satisfied with the transformation of the interior spaces to bring in light and views and how we have managed to do this without distorting the external appearance of the original building.
We have a very good understanding of the Isle Iona and the challenges that exist in building there. Three of our most significant projects to date are located on Iona and through this work we have learned about the needs of residents and studied the existing buildings and settlement patterns in great detail to better understand the characteristics of the place.
Roots have delivered 5 new affordable homes on Iona in 2016, now known as 'The Glebe'. The project was established by the community through the Iona Housing Partnership. Roots worked closely with IHP to find a design solution that would be affordable without compromising on the quality of the properties as island homes. A challenging project that has been many years in the making, it has been hugely gratifying to see these properties come to life and support new families within the community.
Roots have also delivered a new Visitor Shelter for the National Trust for Scotland. The visitor shelter is the first dedicated public building where new arrivals on the island can linger and orientate themselves whilst they wait on a ferry or enjoy a sociable packed lunch. Bespoke iroko benches designed by Roots add to the quality of the exhibition space inside, which explains the flora and fauna of the island. The shelter has been built using robust materials that reference the style of the former fire station building that once stood there and does well blend in with the sensitive surroundings.
Our most high profile work on Iona is a major renovation project at Iona Abbey which is ongoing. This is a once-in-a-generation overhaul of residential facilities at the Abbey to improve the quality of visitor facilities, accessibility and sustainability of the building. Roots are very privileged to be contributing to the future of a building with such strong national and international significance.