Anderson Bell + Christie

Canna Community Development

The Island of Canna is the most westerly of the Small Isles of the Inner Hebrides, which include Eigg, Rum and Muck. Its current population is small, but growing, and the islanders are actively working to safeguard the future of the island. To ensure that the community has the best chance to thrive, they are currently developing plans for a new Community Hall. We are delighted to be working with the Isle of Canna Community Development Trust to prepare a design feasibility study and business case to take this project forward.

The new Community Hall will provide a shared place at the heart of the community, supporting local ventures and providing a dedicated community space. It will also build on economic opportunities, and encourage visitors to the island who come to witness the large population of breeding seabirds and view the large collection of important archives in the care of the National Trust at Canna House. To encourage tourism and growth, the islanders have already established a community shop, campsite and new moorings for visiting yachts, and arrange performances for visitors in the summer.

The Community Hall will be used to extend community activity, and will also be used by the local Primary School, Small Isles Medical Practice, the Community Council, the Western Isles College, the Coast Guard, and visitors to the island including parties for private hire. Key stakeholders include Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish National Heritage and the National Trust for Scotland.

The design at present accommodates indoor sports activities, including indoor bowls and badminton, as well as providing space for ceilidhs and other social events. A large kitchen can cater for functions. The building will incorporate bunk-house accommodation, with kitchen, living and shower facilities. A multi-function consultation and meeting room will provide private space for visiting doctors or nurses, and there is an area which can be hired for events. An office will be used by both the Community Trust, and the Coast Guard. Washing and drying facilities will be available for those staying in the bunk-house accommodation, and for visiting yachtsmen who can make use of all the facilities.

The site is located close to the Pier, on the site of an old coal shed, in a quarry area which has since been up-filled.  Never-the-less it is sensitive and visible on arrival from the ferry, and from across the bay and many of the islander’s homes. It is sloping, with panoramic south-westerly views to the adjoining island of Sanday. We have designed our proposals to sit into the landscape, to reduce the impact of the building's volume.  The form is simple with a pitched roof, and walls of stone and timber.  It is reminiscent of traditional barns and incorporates a cutaway stone gable as a feature in the landscape.

It is hoped, as has been demonstrated on the Isle of Coll – where we worked with the community to design and develop their new Community Hall An Cridhe - that the new Community Hall will provide vital social and community facilities for local people, encouraging tourism and economic growth that will help develop a sustainable community.