Niall Smith Architects who are based in Cavan were commissioned to design a new dwelling for a young family on the Louth-Monaghan border. The house has traditional vernacular elements with a contemporary twist. The living spaces are flooded with natural light and take advantage of the vast countryside views which the site offered. The dining area is double height with an open-plan modern bright kitchen.
Cariona Tuite, the project architect, is a registered architect with Niall Smith Architects. This Kingscourt based architectural rm is a young, award winning, design orientated practice. Their goal is to create quality buildings and spaces for the people who use them, which are well detailed, energy efficient, accessible and cost effective, formulated by optimising light, space, views and materials. They are registered with the Royal Association of the Architects of Ire- land (RIAI) and are also Grade III Conservation Architects. They have a wide range of projects but specialise in bespoke one o housing, schools and conservation projects. Their projects span the counties of Cavan, Monaghan, Louth Meath, Dublin & Sligo.
“Built on family lands, this house at Ballykelly, on the Louth/Monaghan border, was designed with the rural vernacular in mind. Stephen’s family were from the area, and he and his Mayo born wife, Irene, decided to settle there, where Stephen was heavily involved in his local GAA club, Annaghminnon Rovers. They have two children, Ella and Connla and baby number three is due in November,’’ said Cariona Tuite.
“The site was in an existing, undulating tillage eld, within close proximity to the original homestead and family farm. This cluster of buildings helped to minimise the impact of the house on the landscape. Surrounded by lots of mature trees, the site offered spectacular views across the rolling countryside.
“The design challenge when the front of the house is facing South is to achieve a public entrance at the front door, while also creating a private open space which maximises the path of the sun. This was achieved with a set back patio space that the dining room opens on to,’’ added Ms Tuite. The property’s pitched roofs at differing heights, and narrow plan is designed in accordance with the Rural Design Guide.
“It was important to design a house that suited the site while maintaining a traditional/verna- cular scale. The narrow, single room depth aspect to the layout gives the dwelling dual aspect, maximising all views to the living spaces and bedrooms,’’ she explained. “A mixed palette of traditional and contemporary materials were used. Natural stone, which was from a stone shed on the family farm, on the site, was re-used in the house, which has rooted this housermly to the this site.
“The natural blue/black slate roof covering with render was chosen to blend harmoniou- sly with its rural setting and compliment the surrounding area. The interior is contempo- rary, with vaulted ceilings which allow natural light to flood into the space. A muted palet- te of colours is used throughout the interior, which has given warmth to the spaces. The high gloss white kitchen is in contrast with its dark base units. There is underfloor heating throughout the house and a dual aspect re between the dining area & the family room,’’ imparted Cariona.
“The tillage fields around the house have been re-sown and over the past season, they have been nestled in a golden ocean of barley and currently the roof is just visible from the road above a eld of maze. This is literally a eld of dreams,’’ concluded Cariona Tuite.
“Would we do it again? Yes! The architect’s didn’t just design a house, they designed a home, that has the wow factor! They built a 3D model of the design at sketch stage, so we knew exactly what it was going to be like. All the design decisions, down to the colour of our gorgeous windows, they were there. The mechanical & electrical company were also great. Alan Duffy of Allbrite was always available if we had any queries with our heat recovery system, underfloor heating etc. He was so enthusiastic. We can’t recommend them both highly enough. Anthony’s Mason- ry re-worked the stone from an existing stone building on the farm and we thought they were excellent and very meticulous,”said the homeowners Stephen and Irene Finnegan.