CUMBRIA, ENGLAND -- The ability of Burlington's natural slate roofing to withstand some of Scotland's most inclement weather has been put firmly to the test on the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides. Blue/Grey slate from Burlington Stone, a leading producer of natural slate roofing, adorns a development of eight semi-detached houses that have been designed by Benjamin Tindall Architects for Barra and Vatersay Housing Association.

Recipients of a Commendation at this year's Civic Trust Awards, each of these eight houses -- four two-bedrooms, two three-bedrooms and one four- and five-bedroom -- have been designed to satisfy the objectives of simplicity, symmetry and sustainability. The result, fostered by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Community Scotland, is a timber-frame longhouse development with many differences. For example, each of the four buildings feature distinctive semi-circular ends with half-conical roofs that are finished in Burlington Blue/Grey slate. When presented to the winds, this design feature that was developed with the help of EDAS (Energy Design Advisory Service), serves to reduce heat losses created by the severe weather conditions that affect the exposed site year round.

Forming part of a pioneering vapor permeable roof design that is being monitored in East Kilbride, 1,000 square meters of Burlington's 10- to 14-inch random width Blue/Grey natural slates have been fixed by Barra Contractor, Peter Nicholson Builders, on softwood, over the vapor permeable felt to help improve thermal performance.

Burlington slate is a long-life low-maintenance material, which provides a quieter roof covering when compared to zinc and other metal roofing materials prevalent in that region, according to the company.

“The development on the Isle of Barra is pioneering not only in terms of the external appearance adopted for the scheme, but in relation to the overall design specification,” said Regional Sales Manager, Ian Ramsay, when commenting on behalf of Burlington slate. “We are delighted, therefore, that our roofing slate has helped play an important role in helping to create such a unique housing scheme.”