Kerr Blyth: KBA+D Architects For Lochinver Larder

Wed, Jul 1, 2020

Kerr Blyth, director at KBA+D Architecture & Interior Designer spends his weeks travelling for work and his weekend’s rock climbing, mountain biking and sea kayaking in the North West Highlands. It sounds intense, hectic, busy. But as Kerr says, “You get a real sense of freedom up there. It’s so very nurturing.”

Kerr has lived his entire life in Edinburgh but has always had a strong connection to the Highlands and Sutherland. “My mother coming from Lairg has always considered herself a Highlander”, says Kerr. “When we were kids she would talk to us about the history or talk about the landscape and the language. I used to go up as a kid and I have memories of distant relations farming and crofting up there. So it’s very much been a part of me.”

While Kerr travels widely across Scotland and England most of the week for work, it’s the Highlands where he spends most of his weekends. “Back in my youth on a Friday night I would get the train or plane back up to Edinburgh, then jump in my car and drive to Ullapool just in time to get into the pub before the lock-in and knees up. Then in the morning I would be right there to go out mountain biking or whatever the guys were all doing. No hangover cure like it on this fair planet.”

So when the Lochinver Larder project came up, it was particularly exciting for Kerr. “I mean, the location is fantastic”, he says. “People talk about Lochinver being the end of the road, but for me, it’s the start of the journey because the sea is such a fantastic place to be.”

Kerr and his team at KBA+D focus on creating environments with a strong sense of place, character and identity. “We work with the context and try to thread something positive about that context”, says Kerr. “When you really do the research and get to the root of the place, it can make a big difference to how the business performs.”

Kerr believes that getting that sort of authenticity is really important. “Too often designers and architects will get lost in a thin veneer of how something looks, but really the majority of what we deal with is actually - What’s the story here? How do we create a positive environment? How do we get a strong identity? And how do we give people a memorable experience?”

He adds, “If people have a really enjoyable time and it’s a dynamic space in some way, or it informs them in some way, then they take away that memory and they’re more likely to come back - and more likely to talk to people about it.”

For Kerr, the most gratifying thing is if the locals go to the venue and they enjoy it. “It’s a celebration of Scottish culture”, he says, “it’s what the tourists want too - they want to go to a place that’s convivial where you bump into the fishermen and get into all sorts of fantastic conversations.”

Plans for Lochinver Larder

“Creating spaces that make the most of the context is key”, says Kerr. “So making the most of the views, the sunlight. Even trying to create a story around the Caberfeidh, which is difficult for tourists to say and nobody really knows what it means. Having something like the “Boat House” reflects how it’s oriented towards the sea and gives to its roots a little more. Any positive connection we can get to the sea is really important.”

The existing extension at the back of the Caberfeidh will be demolished and a new larger building volume created, which will become the Boat House. The Larder will be as it is at the moment but will include the adjacent house, which belonged to previous owners Ian and Debra Stewart.

“To do this particular project is a privilege”, says Kerr. “The visit to the site blew me away. I discussed the project with my team and we all got very excited about it. We’re buzzing.”

Of the North West, Kerr says, “In Europe, there are very few wilderness places left, and I think the North West is one of those places. It’s just breathtaking. It’s phenomenal. It’s monumental.”

He adds, “The exciting thing about Lochinver, is you get through all that landscape and then you’re down by the sea in this protected cove. It’s west-facing so it gets the evening sun. Around five or six the wind will drop, the sun will come out, and just at that moment you get a couple of hours of peace and tranquillity.”

It’s Kerr’s hope that they can get somebody out on the beach in front of the Boat House with a small sailing boat that can take folk out for a sail around the bay in the evening for sundown. “Getting that view of Lochinver with Suilven in the background is priceless.”








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In Europe, there are very few wilderness places left, and I think the North West is one of those places. It’s just breathtaking. It’s phenomenal. It’s monumental.
Kerr Blyth