Business support

Portree architect firm expands

Portree based architects, Rural Design, is set to create three new jobs and boost its turnover after securing a £58,000 business expansion investment from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

Established in 2005 by Alan Dickson and Gill Smith working from a home office, the practice has gone from strength to strength. Since relocating from Dunvegan to Portree in 2015 it has taken on six new architectural staff, five of whom are in their twenties.

Rural Design has a varied client base working with private domestic clients as well as community trusts, housing associations and businesses across the Highlands.

Its Talla na Mara project for the West Harris Trust was recently highly commended at the Civic Trust Awards. The practice is also working on designs for new hospitals in Broadford and Aviemore, which is being delivered in conjunction with Edinburgh architects Oberlanders.

Rural Design is also behind the designs for R.HOUSE, the innovative prefabricated home company based on Skye, and expects to complete over 100 houses over the next year.

The continued expansion has left the firm needing larger premises to accommodate the growing team. Unable to find suitable property to rent locally, they are currently developing a purpose-built studio in Portree.

This has already allowed Rural Design to recruit an architectural technician who relocates to Skye when the studio opens. Recruitment is also underway for an interior designer and a studio administrator.

Eilidh Ross, of HIE’s Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross team, said: 

“Rural Design has been growing steadily since setting up in 2005, but hit a stumbling block in finding suitable premises to continue this growth. It’s important for the local economy that firms can grow while remaining in the area. This helps attract skilled people to the island and strengthens rural communities. It is particularly welcome that Rural Design is looking to attract younger employees.”

Alan Dickson, Rural Design director, said: 

“We are delighted to have received support from HIE offering Rural Design the opportunity to grow our practice in Portree. Our new home, Mill Studio, will offer an exciting and creative space for our growing team.”

As a result of the investment, the company is anticipating an increase in its staff and turnover of 25% within three years.

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