Robert Coutts        2020

Co Working & Co Living

The project proposal is for a residential development in the small town of Stromness in the Orkney Islands. However, as the project explores a unique structural system using CLT cross walls and modular planks, I believe this system could become a model for future proof and sustainable development across Scotland and the UK.


As the concept of office sharing and working from home is becoming increasingly popular. The project aims to provide residents and members of the community a space to live and work on the same site. The project contains apartments equipped with artist studios, retail units and mixed use commercial spaces all inhabited on the same site. The flexible apartments are arranged as a series of stacked volumes to reinforce the ideas of connectivity and community on the site. The apartments are oriented towards the water and prevailing wind direction of the site to maximise the views across the water and to reduce the wind speeds to create a calm courtyard space. This courtyard space becomes a public realm where residents can spill out and enjoy their craft outdoors.


The main structure of the project is to be made of Cross Laminated Timber. There are many benefits of CLT. Compared with steel and concrete construction it is obviously a low impact material with a much lower embodied carbon footprint. From an environmental point of view, CLT is preferable to steel and concrete. The building has been designed to be modular and repeatable to allow for the use of a prefabricated CLT panel system to be used. At the end of each cross wall bay there are infill panels made of timber cassettes which are fixed to the CLT structural walls, this allows for large amounts of insulation to be installed and improves the thermal performance of the building and helps provide better thermal comfort for the users.