Ionad Eilean Na h-Òige
ARCHITECTURE: Future Building or Project
Comann Eachdraidh Èirisgeidh
The location that inspired Whisky Galore and the site of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s first Scottish landfall, the Isle of Eriskay has an incredibly rich and eclectic history. Affectionately known as ‘Eilean h- Òige’ (the isle of youth), Eriskay was only first populated after the Highland Clearances and has a relatively short history of inhabitants, but a history that could rival any of its neighbours.
Comann Eachdraidh Èirisgeidh (Eriskay Historical Society, CEE) was formed in 2010 by, and with help from, members of the Eriskay community to “identify, collect, preserve and display documents, artefacts, photographs, genealogy and other materials of historical value to both the Eriskay community and visitors”. In 2019, CEE were granted funding to purchase the former school building which was vacated in 2014. As one of only two civic buildings for a large part of the island’s history as with the church, the building has been a consistent backdrop to community life. It hosted not only kids in classrooms but everything from weddings to ceilidhs.
Today, the building is deteriorating. It hosts little more than memories and is a ghostly presence in its setting. However, with its distinctive sculptural form, its position on the island, and the significance of its history, it merits its place as the protagonist of any future development.
This Ionad Eilean h-Óige (Centre of the Isle of Youth) development, refined in collaboration with the client, the local community, and professional consultants, proposes to:
- Reinvigorate the former school site for community use
- Ensure any proposals are economically self-sustainable and ecologically sensitive
- Provide high quality display, storage and research areas for the Comann Eachdraidh as well as space for local community groups and businesses
- Provide new spaces for community engagement without competing with local businesses
Phase one, totalling £130k and due to begin this spring, includes essential repair works and removal of extensions and outbuildings beyond economic repair. Phase two encompasses the integration of cultural, business, health and leisure facilities bring Eriskay closer to a 20-minute community; resulting in reduced need for people to travel further for basic necessities and a reason for visitors to stay longer. The design brief is subtle in its presence but bold in its aspirations.
A community consultation held in March 2022, an overwhelming 100% of submitted feedback were supportive of the proposals, with 81% ‘very supportive’ and 94% agreeing that the proposals will benefit the island.