Marie Bruhat / Studio Bothy / Fair Isle, Shetland 

Marie Bruhat built a Studio Bothy at her croft on Fair Isle to provide additional space for her knitwear business. The flat-pack kit was delivered by lorry via a ferry from Aberdeen to Shetland’s Mainland, followed by a second boat trip aboard the smaller Good Shepherd. The Bothy sits quietly in this peaceful and remote agricultural setting, with its corrugated metal and timber cladding evoking the island’s vernacular buildings.

This is Marie’s Bothy story:

I was fortunate enough to receive a grant from Highland and Islands Enterprise to partly cover the cost of building a new studio for my business. I wanted to create something that looks good in the landscape and will last a long time. This is the first new building erected on Fair Isle for several years so it needed to improve the croft and provide something that will benefit future generations. 

 

A bespoke solution

Bothy Stores helped with the grant application by providing essential information on the design, materials and costings. The grant meant we could afford to pay professionals and I could delegate things to the right people. We worked with engineering company Case Shetland who handled the planning application and the design of the foundations. The harsh weather here meant some special solutions were required. We needed heavy-duty tie downs to deal with the high winds and anchor the building properly.

In terms of the design, I knew I wanted a pitched roof and it needed to be really robust. At the time in 2020 a lot of companies were offering buildings for use as home offices but they were more like garden sheds. The Bothy was the only one I thought could stand up to the weather on Fair Isle! We specified corrugated Corten steel for the exterior and it looks fantastic. It quickly turned dark brown and it blends in beautifully with the hills and the landscape.

 

Speedy construction in a remote location

The installation went really smoothly, despite the remoteness of our site. We don’t have access for a big lorry or a crane so it needed to be built with minimal equipment. Everything was able to fit on the small ferry and was brought to the croft on a tractor trailer. A contractor based on the island helped with the build and it was amazing to see the closed-panel cassettes being assembled so quickly. Every day there was amazing progress and I documented it all on my Instagram account! Bobby from Bothy Stores was also here working on it and the whole exterior was finished and weathertight in just three weeks. My partner and I completed the interior in our own time alongside working at our day jobs. Bobby had the idea to add the pegboard to the wall, which is perfect for storing cones of coloured wool and also creates an amazing display. 

 

Built to last a lifetime

I enjoyed working with Bothy Stores because I could tell there was a level of craftsmanship involved that is lacking in many other buildings these days. It was clearly a work of the heart for Bobby and the builders, which shows in the attention to detail and the quality of the finishing. In a place like Fair Isle, you need to build something of quality that reflects and enhances the beauty of the island. 

Working in the Bothy has been fantastic. It’s really well insulated so it warms up quickly when it’s sunny, and when it’s cold the wood burner heats the space really fast. The light is fantastic, and I have amazing views through the big windows. I love working in here and listening to the rain in the background with the fire crackling away. I really think I have the best knitting studio in the world.

 

To find out more about Marie, her knittwear and knitting holidays visit: fairislewithmarie.com

To find out more about Fair Isle and how to get there visit: www.fairisle.org.uk

All images copyright of Sophie Gerrard