The house is situated a few miles outside the predominantly red-brick town of Dundalk in the sea-side village of Blackrock. The clients, a retired couple, sought a modestly-sized, low-energy, warm and welcoming home that enjoyed sunlight all day long.
The selected site was the last in a row of plots which were being sold-off in a piecemeal fashion on former agricultural land. As such, at the time of design there was no immediate built context, only the surrounding meadow, zoned to remain undeveloped, and an incomplete access road. Topographically the site sloped down to the south from back to front, overlooked the meadow to the west, and would adjoin future neighbours to the east.
The house is embedded a field facing south-west towards the meadow. Its positioning first emerged with the establishment of a levelled clearing midway up the slope, around which forms are distributed as best befits their orientation and topographic situation. This clearing later materialised as L-shaped living spaces around a low-walled brick patio mediating between man and nature.
The more public face of the house gathers scale to the east where it adjoins the developing community of individual houses. Clerestory windows allow morning sunlight to wash the sloping white plaster ceiling from the more private east-facing elevation. The master bedroom enjoys awalled courtyard that captures the sun from early morning to late afternoon. Discretely positioned windows on the east elevation allow the occupants to casually observe unannounced visitors from the interior.
Viewed from the west, the house sits low to the ground, rooted, and blends with its environment. On the one hand, earth tones and natural materials root the house in the landscape. On the other, the strong geometric stature of the house, amplified by the flush-struck brick mortar joints, stained cedar soffits, and taut flush panes of glass reinforce its absolute materiality and man-made presence.
Internally, all rooms are provided with generous views and enjoy unique lighting conditions particular to each room. Utilitarian areas are distributed on the northern elevation, which is provided with limited openings to minimise thermal loss, save for glazed door at the end of the corridor that reveals the excavation of the hillside. Triple glazed windows, renewable energy sources and a highly insulated fabric ensure very low energy consumption all year-round.
Activities in the open plan kitchen, living and dining area are distinguished by the specific light condition and volumetric envelope given to each respective function. Gathered informally around the patio, these spaces become wholly integrated with the outside when the internal glazed corner of the space slides open. Full height windows to the south and east are sheltered by a timber canopy that extends inside and outside, its structure echoed in the placement of cedar battens that lend rhythm and intimacy to the patio perimeter.
The lack of middle ground in the view from the inside engenders the viewer an immediate relationship with the meadow to the west. Through variously scaled spaces of occupation both inside and outside (a brick bench reading niche at the fireplace, a 3-4-person window seat by the kitchen, an outdoor brick bench benefitting from the heat of the hearth) the house is imbued with a quality of comfort and warm conviviality.
Material Used :
1. Brick: Ibstock Olde English Buff
2. Windows: Nordan
3. Roof Slates: Tegral Thrutone