Architecture practice based in Scotland
A ‘togail bothan – Building a bothy 

        The bothy has been a staple yet modest typology for centuries, often subtly placed within the Scottish landscape. Sheilings, bothies, huts; this typology has several names to suit it’s varying uses. It’s been suggested these small, temporary dwellings were first built to house seasonal farm workers during the summer months and provide shelter for animals during the harsh winter months. Over the years their use evolved as these bothies become more popular, being more frequently used as shelters for walkers as well as a remedy for urban life. 

Many of the various bothies you see all across Scotland have been converted from old crofters cottages and such like. Open to anyone who passes by and needs a place to stay for the night. Humble spaces to enjoy with friends, family or fellow explorers. The law around bothies was changed a few years back as a way of encouraging more people to spend time in nature; strengthening the relationship between urban and rural landscapes whilst bettering the networks of these spaces across the country. 

When it comes to building new bothies in Scotland, there are a few different rules and regulations to follow.

It must be:
    - constructed from low impact materials
    - be built in a way which allows it to be removed with little or no trace
    - in keeping with ecologically sustainable and affordable traditions

It must not:
    - be connected to mains water, electricity or sewerage
    - have an internal floor area larger than 30m2
    - be within six metres of a boundary or another building
    - pave the way for higher impact developments later down the line

Bothies and huts do require planning permission, however, depending on the design, location and choice of construction, it may not need a building warrant.

The importance of these low-impact structures spans culture and biodiversity; they act as infrastructural elements with a responsibility which bridges the people who use them and the vastness of the local ecosystem within which they’re embedded.

Photography & Words by Bethan Nelson

Cider             Stay             Instagram