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Harbouring beauty in Kinsale

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Lizette Conneely discusses a fabulous project

Conneely Wessels Architects is an architectural practice  based in Kinsale, County Cork.

Their practice aims to provide a responsive, imaginative and professional service, tailored to the aspirations of each of our clients, and to deliver quality results regardless of commission size or type as well as  seeking to develop sustainable designs which fulfil the expectations of building users, address their physical  and cultural context and allow effective solutions for procurement and construction.

Their work includes all types of planning, design and our range of services extends from acting as consultants, providing strategic advice on development, regeneration and conservation, to providing full architectural services for building projects from inception to completion.

They advise and enable clients at various stage of their projects from initial project definition and feasibility through to general estate and facilities management. They also offer clients the cost benefits, ease of management and synergies of a single point of contact for all construction services from project inception through to completion.

Here, Lizette Conneely discusses the breathtaking property that is Ardgwee House.

“There was an existing house on the site that consisted of small cellular rooms and the main living accommodation on the ground floor. This arrangement did not meet the clients’ requirements for modern day living, nor did it make the most of the stunning views over Kinsale harbour. There is a steep slope on the site and that was one of the challenges of this project,” said Lizette Conneely.

“However, it also affords access to the house on the ground as well as the first floor. Therefore, the design solution was to retain the main entrance on the ground floor, but create an open plan living/dining/kitchen area on the first floor to maximise the views over Kinsale, with a separate entrance on the first floor.

“The Lower Ground and Ground Floors of the house are grounded by a stone “plinth” that rises from the garden. The First Floor is “wrapped” by a fold, enclosing the volumes mainly on the North, East and West facades, but open towards the South,” added Mrs Conneely.

“The internal living spaces are extended externally by sheltered external areas. Living spaces on the first floor are generous in ceiling height and is enhanced by clear storey glazing.

The layout is an “upside-down” house, with the open plan living on the first floor and bedroom accommodation on the ground floor. This layout maximises the panoramic views over Kinsale harbour from the living areas,” she enthused.

“A wrap around terrace offers the option of an external entertainment area, accessible from the living spaces. The extreme slope of the site offers the opportunity for the first floor to be entered, via the utility room. The ground floor accommodation includes two bedrooms, a family bathroom and a master bedroom Suite, including a dressing room and en-suite,” Lizette went on to explain.

“The first floor accommodation includes an open plan living, kitchen and dining area with sliding doors onto the “wrap around” terrace. A second “snug” room, study, visitors’ water closet and utility room compliments the first floor accommodation,” continued Lizette.

Conneely Wessel Architects believe in design excellence through carefully listening to their clients needs and goals, not by imposing their overall ideas onto your project. They are here to design a home that works perfectly for their  clients and their family, not a project that will just look great in a portfolio. This can only be achieved by truly listening to what the client has to say, both positive and negative. They adopt an approach of hold your hand throughout the entire design and construction process, taking clients step by step from developing the initial design through the final construction. Throughout their unique process, they can design a home that meets their clients needs, lifestyle and budget, achieving successful results while eliminating the unnecessary headaches and possible projects that can typically arise during construction.

Their design process commences with detailed site analysis that informs initial concept sketch designs. CWA develop several design options for discussion with their clients. They also utilise 3D computer models throughout the design phase to allow clients to visualise the clients new home better and therefore make more informed decisions. This provides the comfort of knowing exactly what their new home will look like, before starting construction, eliminating unnecessary change orders and saving you money.

Through their professional experience and efficient design, they can help their clients maximise their investments by reducing the  cost of construction, reducing energy consumption and potentially increasing the future resale value of their property. They can also streamline the construction process by assisting in the selection of qualified contractors and monitoring the conditions on job sites (when selected.).

The practice works thoroughly throughout the design detailing phase to develop a set of accurate drawings and specifications based on the projects’ exact wants and needs. Their detailed tender and construction package preparation allows them to eliminate the change orders that typically increase cost of construction. They view the lifetime characteristics of the project with equal enthusiasms as the initial commission.

The practice design buildings which are thoroughly worked out  both inside and outside. Internal space will function for their intended use with their objective to exceed the high expectations of their clients and the people and families who will settle in the buildings that they design.

Conneely Wessels Architects bring specific skills to the design process to achieve a quality, innovative and cost effective solution or our clients and these include: project leadership, effective communication, sustainable environment, extended skill sets and thought leadership.

Work on this house concluded in 2018 but were there any challenges along the way?

“The challenge of this project was in particular, the extreme steep slope of the site. We used this to our advantage by providing an innovative design solution of a two storey house that can be entered on both levels. The layout of the house as an “upside-down” house, also uses the steep slope to its optimum, by maximising the views from the living spaces, with the open plan living on the first floor and bedroom accommodation on the ground floor,” revealed Mrs Conneely.

“The wrap around fold captures the panoramic views over Kinsale harbour and also offers a part sheltered terrace for an external entertainment area. Our approach to innovative sustainability solutions on the project was to make substantial environmental benefits from a number of quite simple and straightforward measures to reduce resource consumption.

“These measures ranging from re-using the existing footprint of the original dwelling to reduce foundation works, high levels of insulation and exploitation of building mass through use of external insulated render system with air-to-water source heating, provision of heat recovery system, passive solar control, low energy controlled LED lighting and choice of sustainable building fabric materials and finishes,” she imparted.

“The internal living spaces are extended externally by sheltered external areas. Living spaces on the First Floor are generous in ceiling height and is enhanced by clear storey glazing,” concluded Lizette Conneely.