Living in a Landscape
STUDIO / DESIGNER
Arigho Larmour Wheeler Architects
Structures & Spaces
ALWA (Architects & Interior Design)
CORA Consulting (Structural and Civil Engineer)
Bernard Hickie (Landscape Designer)
Enzo Michel Landscape Studio (Landscape Designer)
Main Contractor: Wallace Contracting Ltd
Visual Concrete: Gerry Brennan
Fitted Furniture: Jan Watte
Kitchen: Dean Cooper
Electrical Sub-Contractor: Finnie Electrical
Landscape Contractor: Outlook
Photographer: Simon Menges
Lighting: Shadow Light
Tiles: Design Emporium
Timber floors: Amsterdam Flooring
Design Challenge and Design Ideas
The site for the house is on a hillside, high above a village by the sea on the south east coast of Ireland.
The new house replaces an existing two-storey 1970’s home that partially blocked views to the sea from the road above. The dark lower floor of the existing house was cut into the hillside.
The new house is accessed from a quiet road that runs along the hill above the site with views out to sea over the houses below. The challenge was to create a beautiful and comfortable family home that nestles elegantly into this steeply sloped landscape.
The steep topography of the site necessitated that the house would be accessed from an upper ground floor level and part of the challenge of the brief was to ensure that the lower ground floor below this would also be full of natural daylight.
How the brief was fulfilled
Access to the site is from a road high above the house with steps winding down from the parking level to a private entrance courtyard with a framed view of the sea.
The new building is set on the same footprint as the existing house to reduce the excavations into the rock, and the new house has a lower parapet level than the previous pitched roof. The roofs are planted to form a new landscape over which views to the sea are now opened up for passers-by to enjoy.
The site is located near a quarry and the granite is found in most garden walls in the locality. Taking cues from this, the mass of the new building has been broken up into three blocks conceived as granite rock outcrops. These blocks are connected by contrasting glass-walled spaces with a courtyard allowing light to the lower levels.
Though the forms are simple, the gently pigmented concrete walls reflect the local granite tones and add a soft and gentle texture by absorbing the light.
The house needed to provide privacy from the road above whilst also opening up to the dramatic views on the other of the house. Living spaces are gathered on the upper ground floor, with views opening up from framed terraces towards the sea. The bedrooms below face the gardens. The house is designed to appear more closed where it faces the road.
The private garden below is characterised by playful meandering concrete paths and pads stepping down the hillside to a lower terrace, set between biodiverse native planting.
The three concrete elements are lined on the inside in painted plaster while the two linking spaces have lower ceilings lined in oak veneer. The contrast in materials defines these as distinct spaces. The joinery throughout the house is mostly oiled oak veneer to provide a restrained palette and a calm backdrop.
The architecture and interior design were considered as one by ALWA, choreographed as a series of connected spaces, each with its own particular spatial and light qualities, all with a special connection to the landscape beyond.
A magnificently considered architectural response, carefully integrated into the landscape. A contemporary timeless design response; a great example of contemporary Irish architectural design."