The Black Cottage

2020 Architects as Architects

2020 Architects were commissioned to design a new contemporary and low energy home located within a cluster of farm buildings overlooking the picturesque Ardglass Marina. The site which is exposed to costal elements from all direction, sits elevated on the north shore and gently slopes towards the marina offering perfect views and natural light from the south.

The client approached us with a clear architectural vision to design a eco-friendly building that was as much about engaging the landscape as it was about relating to the typical rural architecture found across Northern Ireland. However, the client also wanted to design a building that challenged the stereotypical contemporary representation of the Irish cottage articulated with simple forms, white render and slate roof. The brief also extended to providing a modern, bright and welcoming environment to relax and entertain while keeping the space modest so to be functional and cosy when not.

The design draws on a basic vernacular form alongside a very simple palate of material that not only hark back to the agricultural and industrial heritage of the area but would also provide a low cost and low tech solution to the construction. The palate of dark external materials also helps to settle the building and reduce the impact of an additional building visible from the many vantage points in the harbour.

Due to the exposed nature of the site and the double height vaulted spaces within the main volume of the house and master bedroom it was important to carefully consider the impact of the materials used. The fibre cement corrugated cladding provides a robust cloak to the timber frame below while also reducing the acoustics of driving rain and wind that would have been prevalent on corrugated metal or a more lightweight rainscreen cladding.

The building was constructed using a super insulated timber frame accompanied by triple glazed windows, direct air intake stove and a mechanical heat recovery and ventilation system to complete a simple yet effective low energy solution.

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Hammersmith, London, UK - Build completed in 2016
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