This project, a single family house on the remnants of a small farmstead near Saintfield, is nearing completion.
An existing derelict barn establishes a datum for a series of masonry walls creating enclosures and supporting simple metal roofed volumes which reference agricultural forms.
The painted brick walls and stained timber windows are carefully composed to frame the views of the rolling landscape.
Lecture, Queen's University Belfast
These images are among the many which we selected to illustrate our recent presentation to the Masters Architecture Course at Queen's University Belfast on Architecture and Photography.
The pictures are 'found' examples of that tension (or taughtness) in composition which interests us and influences our design.
The three photographs were all taken in Siena, Italy.
The project comprises 2 existing terrace seaside houses previously combined into a single family home. Each of the original houses has a modest rear return and the front of the terrace faces north to Belfast Lough.
A new form negotiates the reconfigured returns of the existing houses providing a series of family rooms and outdoor spaces which engage with the private garden to the south. Natural light is captured deep into the plan through a raised volume between the existing parts, retaining the feeling and lightness of the original yard. The existing houses are further opened to reveal views of the lough from the private garden.
Compositional model of the new intervention in card.
Gable and tree at Ballyscullion.
This project, a house set within an 18th century part walled demesne in mid-Ulster, is located on the edge of an ancient woodland of oak with views across the classical idealised parkland setting, and is being slowly crafted by its owner.
The project speaks of a developing language within the chronology of the practice, where the arrangement of spaces within the form has led to a particular condition of volume, relating to the thickened wall, the open corner, threshold, and edge, and through this language the project starts to relate to the landscape, framing particular views of this remarkable picturesque setting.
Here the single window is placed on the very edge of the thickened gable, one reveal chamfered to orientate the occupant to a distant view of Lough Beg.
Belfast Design Week
McGonigle McGrath will be presenting some of our work, interests and methodologies as part of Belfast Design Week, at the Ulster Museum on Saturday 04 November 2017.
Image of Maghera House.
We are seeking a talented and experienced individual to join our team.
Candidates should have excellent design and construction detailing skills, strong technical expertise and knowledge of current construction methods and regulations, the ability to coordinate and produce high quality production packages, and experience of leading projects and overseeing delivery of construction projects to a high standard.
Candidates should be highly motivated, and have excellent organisational and communication skills. Proficiency in Autocad and experience of Adobe Creative Suite essential, 3D representation and model making skills an advantage.
Competitive salary commensurate with experience.
Applications including cover letter, resume and portfolio in PDF format by post or to email@example.com no later than 17 November 2017.
Malone Park Belfast
Work has completed at this project in south Belfast comprising a sensitive restoration of an existing and previously extended 3 storey detached Victorian villa, and 3 interventions to provide improved entrance and support spaces, along with living rooms to connect to the existing mature and private garden.
This is the canopy and family entrance, part of a 2 storey intervention adjacent to the rear corner of the original house.
House South Belfast
Work is nearing completion on this dwelling in south Belfast.
This is a lightwell deep in the plan, which illuminates a ground floor circulation space, a bathroom, and a first floor circulation space, from where the image is taken. The glazed screen reflects a ceiling light behind the camera.
The Atlantic coast of Donegal is a rugged and often barren glacial landscape of islands, inlets and sounds.
This site is on an exposed headland at Lunniagh, now an existing house in poor condition within a cluster of dwellings and former turf sheds, with coastal views west to the islands of Gola and Inishmeane, and inland east to the Derryveagh Mountains. The owners have a strong connection with the site and with the existing form.
We have been commissioned to design a single dwelling to replace the existing house.
Progress at Ballyscullion Park.
Flush pointed grey brick walls to the north elevation enclose circulation and service spaces, and natural light is carefully controlled. The patinated zinc roof is precisely set out to coordinate with both roof and wall apertures, and roof windows are flush with the surface of the roof. There are no roof projections.
Grey stained hardwood windows provide glimpses of the ancient woodland between the house and road.
House Belfast Lough
Front elevation from the Lough
House Belfast Lough
This site for a single dwelling is on the southern shore of Belfast Lough, a natural sea inlet providing shipping access to the Port of Belfast. An existing deep plan garden, its narrow side addresses the road and faces north-west with views of the lough and the Antrim hills beyond.
The plot incorporates a natural steep rise in the local topography.
The project is conceived as a singular linear masonry form, placed perpendicular to the shoreline and against the natural rise in the terrain.
The forms are stepped, eroded and appended to take advantage of natural light and views.
Travels / Offida
The beautiful church of Santa Maria della Rocca sits on an outcrop above the vineyards which surround the commune of Offida, central Italy.
It is one of the most significant buildings in the whole Marche region. It is a large brickwork construction in Romanesque-Gothic style designed by Albertino in 1330.
The building comprises a tall upper church, a single hall, above a multi-arched crypt chapel. Both chapels are decorated with important frescoes.
Terracotta stairs connect the two churches, the point at which the spiral stair and a straight flight meet is particularly elegantly resolved.
In the earthquake of 30.10.2016, the church suffered serious structural damage.
Open House Belfast 2016
Interior of Tedford's Sail Loft, Donegal Quay, Belfast.
Constructed between 1760 and 1790, this warehouse once stood adjacent to the dockside and is where ships sails were made. The historic character of the interior of the building remains largely intact.
We have been commissioned to restore and reuse the Sail Loft Building as a new restaurant for Belfast chef Niall McKenna.
The building was part of the Open House Belfast - Architecture & Engineering Festival 2016.
Travels / Istanbul
For more than six centuries the Gate of Salutation has controlled access to the second courtyard of the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul: the courtyard in which ambassadors were received and justice dispensed.
In that time the marble threshold has been worn into an undulating almost organic form.
Domes International Review of Architecture
House Maghera featured in Domes International Review of Architecture, issue 03/16.
These simple and typical Ulster outbuildings provide storage and workshop relating to a large period country dwelling about 10 miles south of Belfast. Our practice extended the main dwelling house 17 years ago, and the same owner has now asked us to replace the outbuildings with a new dwelling, connected to the existing dwelling which will be occupied by family members.
The replacement buildings are of the same footprint occupying 2 connected walled enclosures, one arrival courtyard with parking, and one private courtyard off the living spaces.
Forms are inspired by the language of the existing outbuildings, but simplified to 2 elements, connected and skewed in line with the previous geometries. The skew of the smaller block impresses on the gable of the larger one, creating a simple tension in the plan.
Home from Home BCH has received a 2016 RIBA Northern Ireland Regional Award.
One of a series of 'Homes from Home' for this cancer charity. This facility offers the families of children undergoing treatment in the nearby Regional Cancer Centre free accommodation for the duration of the treatment. It also, separately, accommodates the charity's local office. This accomplished restoration and extension is a well detailed and thoughtful project. The collaboration between architect and client is evident. The contemporary expression fits perfectly in the context of the conservation area.
The project, the second in Northern Ireland for CLIC Sargent, also received the RIBA Regional Client of the Year Award.
Liam McCormick Prize / RSUA Design Awards 2016
McGonigle McGrath have been presented with the 2016 Liam McCormick Prize, the most prestigious architectural award from The Royal Society of Ulster Architects, for House Maghera. The award was bestowed at the biennial RSUA Design Awards ceremony in Belfast.
The practice also received RSUA Design Awards for House Maghera, and for Home from Home BCH, for Clic Sargent NI.
House Maghera is one of only 5 projects to receive a 2016 Architectural Association of Ireland Award.
The AAI Awards are internationally peer reviewed architecture awards involving a distinguished panel of judges. They seek to encourage higher standards of architecture throughout Ireland, to recognise projects that make a contribution to Irish architecture culture, and to inform the public of emerging directions in contemporary architecture.
The winning projects have been curated into a specially designed exhibition at Dublin Castle, from Saturday 14th to Saturday 28th May.
Belfast International Airport
An ongoing project comprising the radical redesign and expansion of public restroom facilities at Belfast International Airport.
Planning is rigorous and functional, employing access without doors to bright generous restrooms and compartments. Materials are robust and of high inherent architectural quality including bronze, mosaic, terrazzo and corian. A simple cubicle and panel system in dark grey laminate is employed throughout.
The design is characterised by simplicity and careful detailing. Services are precisely co-ordinated with the architecture.
RIBA Regional Awards Shortlist
Home from Home BCH has been shortlisted for an RIBA Regional Award.
A thorough refurbishment and extension of a B2 listed townhouse within Queens Conservation Area, to provide the second Home from Home for Clic Sargent in Belfast, and their offices.
The integrity of the listed building is protected, with conservation of period features and details. New additions are distinct and compliment the retained elements.
The Home from Home occupies the retained period building, accessed from the street, and the office is accessed from the lower level mews to the rear. The massing of the added elements comprises a diminishing series of simple blocks which spiral away from the retained building. New elements have carefully proportioned openings and wall thicknesses.
Travels / Japan
Incense holders stacked on an intricately jointed timber table at the Kofuku-ji Temple in Nara.
This commission is for the re-use and extension of the modernist and recently listed former War Memorial Building in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter to create a bespoke hotel with associated conference and leisure facilities.
Under this proposal, the external fabric of the listed building is restored, windows and screens are renewed in bronze and a new simple concrete canopy is constructed in line with modernist precedent, signalling the public entrance.
The new building is derived from the original, emphasising it's rhythm and proportion, executed in grey brick with concrete expression of floor edge, creating a simple repeated pattern of voids. Where these voids light bedrooms, decorated bronze panels provide the requisite privacy. The use of brick piers as the expression of the vertical structure acknowledges the tradition of structural brick warehouses in Belfast, and references the spirit of the modern movement, handsomely retained in the existing building.
A new brick walled outdoor space completes the composition, and serves as a central garden courtyard providing access to the series of public spaces and rooms within the retained and new buildings. High quality surfaces reflect the rigour of the adjoining elevations, and a single mature tree provides colour.
The site is in Ballylesson, a small village located about 5 kilometres south of Belfast, on the edge of the Lagan Valley Regional Park, a mosaic of countryside, urban parks, heritage sites, nature reserves and riverside trails. The proposal is for a replacement dwelling and garage to meet the needs of the present owners of the site.
The new dwelling is located within an existing clearing, allowing retention of the mature landscape, and is expressed as 2 brick elements, offset from each other and negotiating the sloping topography. The roofs are formed as a low gull wing along the length of the elements, reflecting both the spirit of the previous dwelling and referencing the surrounding rolling landscape.
The house is orientated as the previous dwelling, presenting its long elevation west to the valley. A third element, the garage, is orientated at right angles to the main dwelling, and comprises a timber structure set within it's own brick walled garden, again in the spirit of the existing arrangement.
The new forms and walled enclosures are arranged with existing hedgerows and landscape to form 3 distinct gardens.
Planning permission has been granted.
Travels / Sabbioneta
The land between Parma in Emilia-Romagna and Mantova in Lombardy is dead flat. The road never rises more than a few metres and only then to cross a railway line or one of the numerous slow moving tributaries of the River Po.
Grain silos and the steeples of churches in distant villages can be seen from miles away.
Rising from this flat marshy land, dramatically and unexpectedly are the defensive walls of Sabbioneta, massive, impressive and almost miraculously intact. They exhibit that precise military engineering aesthetic redolent of Renaissance Italy.
The small city and its walls were constructed between 1554 and 1591 on the instruction of Vespasiano Gonzaga, a visionary Duke who built his own utopia in the marshes.
The complex geometry of the walls, constructed in battered red brick encompasses the entire town, broken only by the two beautiful gates: Porta Imperiale and Porta Vittoria.
Within the walls lies the miniature 'ideal city' of Sabbioneta.
An intervention within an existing rural cluster which responds to the design, massing and materials of the existing dwelling and its outbuildings, and explores the contemporary manifestation of vernacular domestic forms.
Walls extend from the new elements to create yards, and to allow the new elements to nestle into the rising topography. Materials are from a vernacular pallette and are simply detailed , responding to the existing dwelling and to the metal roofs and white walls of the remaining buildings in the cluster behind, and in the fields beyond.
A deep set gable window is placed to one side in the Irish tradition, which along with the strong masonry chimney, seeks to achieve a sense of belonging in the casual nature of the Ulster countryside.
Planning permission has been granted.
Travels / Bergerac
Simple timber shutters close on an abandoned shop within the medieval core of Bergerac, a commune in the Aquitaine region in southwestern France.
War Memorial Building
Card and pencil model of the former War Memorial Building, Waring Street Belfast.
Constructed between 1959 and 1961 to designs by J. Michael Bowley, an English architect practicing largely in Glasgow at that time, this building was the winning entry in an architectural competition for the official permanent War Memorial Building in Northern Ireland, on the site of buildings obliterated during the Belfast Blitz. Although some historic detailing has been lost, the original modular, unembellished character of the Modern Movement has survived.
This project at the foot of the Mourne Mountains has received full planning permission.
Sited on the banks of the Shimna river as it leaves Tollymore Park, the house is organised as a collection of large stones or boulders, placed on a stepped plinth which negotiates the slope of the river bank. The spaces between the stones are linked where the forms touch, through open corners and steps, reflecting the composition of the river boulders below, and allowing external circulation to flow between courtyards to establish the transition between road and river.
Stirling Prize Midlist 2015 - House Maghera
Our project at Maghera features in the final stages of reviews for the UK's most prestigious architecture prize, reaching the midlist of the RIBA Stirling Prize 2015.
The midlist represents the best of the RIBA National Award winners, which are further reviewed for consideration for the RIBA Stirling Prize. The shortlist was announced on 16 July 2015.
Serpentine Pavillion / RIBA National Awards
The 2015 Serpentine Pavilion is designed by Spanish architects Jose Selgas and Lucia Cano.
The pavilion is a flimsy thing, colourful and taut, wrapped up with bright ribbon. It is at its best when the low sun shines through it. In the dusk, lit from within, it glows like an amorphous Chinese lantern.
In strong sunlight the opalescent external skin reflects the landscape and the observer.
We visited the pavilion recently for the RIBA National Awards Ceremony.
Open House Belfast 2015
Thank you to all of you who visited us at our studio at Portview Mill on Saturday 18 July 2015 as part of the inaugural Open House Belfast Architectural Festival.
We enjoyed your company; we were impressed by your knowledge of the practice and heartened by your encouragement.
Ballyscullion Site Visit 2
Brick panels at Ballyscullion.
The bricks are made to order in southern Denmark using the same coal firing process that has been used for more than a century, each brick of unique dimension and hue.
A single mason has carefully selected and placed each of the 35000 bricks used in the first of the two parts of the house. Mortar is flush with the faces of the brick, simply cut and un-tooled. Window openings are deep socketed and the roof is precise zinc sheeting with no edge projections.
Ballyscullion Site Visit 1
The part walled demesne of Ballyscullion Park is situated on the western shores of Lough Beg, and was the location chosen in the late Eighteenth Century by Frederick Augustus Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol and Lord Bishop of Derry, for his second palace in the country, the first being at Downhill on the north coast. Commenced in 1787, the original extravagant palace was never completed, and is now denoted by rubble in the woodlands, having been mostly demolished.
It's portico now graces St. George's Church in High Street in Belfast, supposedly it's stones first brought by horse and cart to Lough Neagh, and from there travelled by the first cargo barge to make the journey to Belfast on the new Lagan Canal.
A later house by Sir Charles Lanyon in 1840 now commands the demesne. Built for Admiral Sir Henry Bruce (a younger son of the Rev. Sir Henry Hervey Bruce, an heir of the Bishop) who at the age of 13 had fought at the Battle of Trafalgar and went on to command the British fleet in the Pacific. Ballyscullion Park remained in the possession of the Bruce family for a century before being sold in 1938 to Sir Harry and Lady Mulholland, and shortly afterwards the estate became a World War Two military base, firstly housing British forces, then US Military personnel in training for the D-Day landings in Normandy.
Sir Harry's grandson Richard and his wife Rosalind live in the house today and maintain the property with respect and appreciation for its distinguished and colourful history.
Our Ballyscullion project, a new dwelling in a natural clearing of an ancient woodland of oak, shares the dramatic landscaped demesne with both the Lanyon House, and the ruined palace.
RIBA National Award
House Maghera has received a 2015 RIBA National Award.
This family house is on the edge of a clachan, a small grouping of farmsteads, on the leeward side of the stunning Mourne Mountains in County Down and is composed of two linear traditional building forms that continue the existing settlement pattern; each discrete form being displaced and slightly rotated in relation to its neighbour. The principle of this formal move is simple and also routinely attempted, but the achievement here is in the subtlety and control of the resulting composition: that which might have been the mere consequence of the contingencies of site and fit is here elevated to a taut and charged relationship of form, scale and alignment. Eschewing a naive dependence on the diagram, the two forms are welded together by the extension of roof slopes. The resulting silhouette anchors the house to the ground and fixes it in the landscape with the memorable profile of the Mournes looming in the middle distance. There is real talent and judgment at work here and a deftness of hand that goes far beyond a re-imagined vernacular or the pedantry of formal diagram.
The secondary moves of walls, steps and plinth foreground the building in its immediate environment. The front entrance yard has a cool tension reminiscent of the Mexican architect Luis Barragan, albeit without the colour, and is authentic in its context and meaning. The entrance hall leads to a music room, a trapezoidal volume complete with piano and enclosed by a pair of folding and sliding barn doors. A guest bedroom to the east occupies the end gable of the shorter building form - a wonderful cavernous volume with a large singular window and timber planks for a floor. The longer range of west-facing living rooms with serried overhead bedrooms all gaze outwards at the Mournes, the pattern thwarted by the cantilevered living room corner acting as foil to the linear diagram. In the second living room the diagram is subverted by a tall clerestory window reaching through the first floor to scoop morning east-light into this otherwise west-facing space.
This is a family house providing an empathetic framework of beautiful spaces for its occupants, opportunistically using the site and appropriate technologies to achieve an eminently habitable and sustainable home. The quality of construction is very high, exemplary and demanding detailing executed with evident local skill and obvious pride (who said craft was dead): a credit to architect, client and builder.
A new double house composed within an existing arrangement of Georgian terrace, strip garden and mews coach house, located inside the planned street pattern of Warrenpoint. The terrace extends an historic promenade, and looks south-west over Carlingford Lough towards the foothills of the Cooley Mountains. The existing buildings are run-down and have lost a lot of their original detailing and clarity.
The existing dwelling is restored in the spirit of the original terrace, while the remnants of the coach house are conserved with new balanced insertions. New additions are embedded inside the yards and enclosures of the assembly, each relating to an orchard formally planted in the connecting walled garden.
Cast and Crew
The former Trustee Savings Bank on Queens Road in Belfast's Titanic Quarter is a modest building. It is understated, but its dynamic canopy, flat-roofed form and slit windows are redolent of the 1960's.
For years it was dwarfed by the industrial buildings which surrounded it but now, surplus to the bank's requirements, it sits in relative isolation surrounded by vacant development sites and car parks. The huge yellow cranes of the shipyards, Samson and Goliath, rise behind it, emphasising its unassuming scale.
The building will soon re-open as Cast and Crew, an informal restaurant and the latest addition to the Niall McKenna culinary empire.
House Maghera has received a 2015 RIBA Northern Ireland Regional Award.
This family home, in a small grouping of farmsteads at the foot of the Mourne Mountains, reinterprets the traditional building forms - but manipulated and rotated to produce a formally strong contemporary family home. Two linear forms are brought together by the extension of their roof slopes, producing an assymetrical but balanced silhouette that echoes the line of the mountains beyond.
A stark courtyard defined by low white walls negotiates the move from the public realm to the private. Once inside, voluminous spaces face west to the view, with bedrooms serried above; one large clerestory window in the living room facing east to pull in strong morning light.
Quality of construction is high, with exemplary and demanding detailing carried out with evident skill and pride - the design is a credit to the aspirations of architect, client and builder. The result is a striking, modern family home that is not only comfortable but designed with beautiful spaces internally that serve to frame the stunning views beyond.
Yeats 2015 Architecture Competition
Rachel Delargy, a Part 3 Architectural Assistant within the practice, has been Highly Commended in the Yeats 2015 Architecture Competition, which received international interest.
Text from her competition entry;
A contemplative space on the Isle of Innisfree.
The construction of the building is derived from the method of building referred to in W.B. Yeats' poem The Lake Isle of Innisfree. A timber frame is inset with clay filled panels, whilst the woven nature of the wattle is expressed in the roof structure where two beams cross to support a folded timber roof.
The building is intended to reflect the musical, almost hypnotic, quality of the poem. The hexameter structure of the first three lines along with the tetrameter form of the final line of each stanza produce a sound akin to a chant. Subtle aspects of construction communicate the form of the verse. Within the space, the ABAB rhyme is suggested by a slight recessing of alternate infill panels, while outside the installation of these panels reveals a proportional system derived from the metre of the poem.
Timber will be treated with an organic paint termed as pine tar. An earth pigment known as purple ochre will be added to the paint and clay of the walls, while the wooden roof will be painted silver grey in order to catch the light from afar. The colour choice, which mirrors the turn in colour of the heather of the surrounding landscape, is intended to evoke the passing of time.
A house on the north bank of the Shimna river at Tollymore Park, one of the foremost eighteenth-century landscaped demesnes in the British Isles, developed from an original deer park and hunting estate created by Lord Limerick following his return from the Grand Tour in the early 1720's.
The house is organised as a collection of large stones or boulders, embedded on the slopes of the bank and each lightly touching another. The spaces between the stones relate to the function and orientation of the spaces within, and these external spaces are linked where the forms touch, through open corners and steps, reflecting the composition of the river boulders below, and allowing external circulation to flow between the courtyards.
The elements are made as robust blocks with openings in wall and roof, retaining a simple approach to form and massing. Openings are generally to the south and west, maintaining a discreet presence to the road, and embracing the river and views on the garden side.
RIBA Awards Regional Shortlist
House Maghera has been shortlisted for an RIBA Regional Award.
The Work of a Small Practice
An exhibition by McGonigle McGrath
This exhibition explores the processes of design and construction of projects including private houses and residential works for the charity Clic Sargent.
Representation through drawings, models, construction information and photography.
David Keir Building
Opening 6pm 12th February 2014 until 13th March 2014
Home from Home BCH
A thorough refurbishment and extension of a B2 listed townhouse within Queens Conservation Area, to provide the second Home from Home for Clic Sargent in Belfast, and their offices.
The integrity of the listed building and terrace are protected, with retention and restoration of period features and details.
New additions are distinct, and diminish in scale as they step away from the retained building, creating secluded enclosure and addressing the rear mews.
The new elements are made in brick, simple in form, and have carefully proportioned openings, wall thicknesses and glazing arrangements. Detailing of the roofs in relationship to the walls is crisp and precise.
Work has now commenced on site with an anticipated completion in the Autumn.
Texas / Spring 2014
A visual essay on the decay of rural Texan towns.
Aidan McGrath's photographic observation now in 'Practice/Photography'.
Pedestrian entrance sequence to initial courtyard at Maghera house.
A walled garden to the rear of a listed house in Donaghadee provides the context for a new terrace of 4 dwellings.
The entrance from the main road is marked by gateposts which establish a threshold from the street to a reconfigured courtyard contained by the listed house, adjacent outbuildings and new brick walls. From this initial courtyard, there is another threshold to the partially walled rear yard and garden which opens up behind the listed house, and in which the terrace is placed as an object.
There is a careful sequencing of spaces within the project; the initial courtyard, arrival yard, enclosed living rooms and individual gardens are experienced in a progression of scale from that of the town through to the street, yard, house and garden. The essence of enclosure that a traditional walled garden provides is retained through the simple arrangement of the terrace and the order of the spaces within.
Travels / Mogno
The church of San Giovanni Battista Decollato in the tiny Swiss hamlet of Mogno was built in 1626. In 1986, along with many of the village houses which surrounded it the church was destroyed by an avalanche. A new church, to replace it, was built in 1994.
It is to visit this new church that so many students of architecture follow the torturous road into the mountains above Locarno in Ticino.
The new church of San Giovani Battista by Mario Botta is a beautiful thing: a dazzling geometric composition of black granite and white marble; a testament to the craft of the architect and of the stone mason.
A greater revelation to the visitor to Mogno, perhaps, even than Botta's beautiful chapel, is the consistent, masterful use of stone in the ancient houses which surround the chapel and in the contemporary and recently restored houses scattered among them. Stone is omnipresent in the roofs, the walls and in the paving. The sense of these houses being the product of the mountains in which they are set is inescapable: these buildings might have always been here under the earth, waiting only to be uncovered.
Describing Architecture 2014
Describing Architecture explores how buildings and spaces are designed and documented.
The annual exhibition reveals unseen aspects of architecture as a creative practice, alongside its critical relationship to the visual arts and the work of artists.
The subject of this year's exhibition is 'Memory and Place', and the work considers how a sense of place is registered and recorded in collective and individual memory, and further asks how a narrative of place both real and imagined can develop.
Our exhibit comprises four case studies of dwellings in rural sites in Northern Ireland.
City Assembly House, Dublin, 17 October - 08 November.
James Street South
Belfast chef Niall McKenna has been at the forefront of modern cookery in Northern Ireland for over 10 years. We have undertaken a number of restaurant projects for Niall, including James Street South, The Bar & Grill at James Street South, and Hadskis.
Recently, we have completed a refurbishment and complete transformation of his original restaurant, James Street South.
Travels / Ascoli Piceno
For centuries the great civic and religious buildings of Ascoli Piceno (in Marche in Central Italy) have been built from Travertine Marble, sometimes relieved with a little yellow brick. In many of the gracious town squares both the buildings themselves and the pavements are constructed from this honey coloured stone.
The quarries from which the Travertine is hewn lie in the hills above the city: some of the quarries are visible from the very piazzas in question.
Sculptor Guiliano Guiliani, a son of Ascoli, a son of a stone mason and a friend and collaborator of Mario Botta works in the same material.
Using his father's ancient tools Guiliani Guilliano wrests travertine blocks from the very same quarry face as did his father. From this stone he creates beautiful sculpture. In his hands the material exhibits the same permanence as the medieval architecture but with a fluid quality, a fragility and almost a translucency which is not evident in the historic monuments in the town.
A composition in cast plaster represents a series of yards and walls creating both internal and external enclosures. Establishing an existing barn wall as a datum, the yard spaces and internal rooms are arranged according to function and topography, creating a series of plinths with inherited or new walls which instil a monolithic quality to the project.
Casting the spaces was a process congruent with the construction of the architecture.
House Maghera nearing completion.
Photography - Michelle Reuter
Travels / Convent de La Tourette
The Convent de La Tourette was built between 1953 and 1960 on a hillside near Lyon, and is the last major work of Le Corbusier in France.
The building is evidence of the originality and single mindedness of the architect but more than that it is about the artisan and the integrity of simple, rugged and unadorned construction, which evokes the minimal existence of the Dominican monks who live there.
Tedford's Sail Loft - Interior
Interior of Tedford's Sail Loft, Donegal Quay, Belfast.
Constructed between 1760 and 1790, the interior of the building remains largely intact.
Original massive single piece timber beams span between brick walls supporting thick timber floorboards, marked and patched over time.
Hatchways used for moving materials though the building remain as created. Openings in the external walls and roof are functional for access and ventilation, and only sometimes for light.
We have embarked on a full restoration for re-use of the building.
Photography - Michelle Reuter
The first civil air traffic began at Aldergrove in 1922 with flights flying newspapers from Chester, and a regular passenger service started in 1933.
Since then Belfast International Airport has undergone many changes and the terminal buildings have been altered and extended beyond recognition.
Later this year we shall undertake a major enhancement of the facilities at the International Arrivals area.
Travels / Santuari de Lluc
Detail of the stair to the Porxets in the Santuari de Lluc monastery.
Founded in the 13th century, the sanctuary is located in the Serra de Tramuntana mountains in north-west Mallorca. The Porxets was built as an extension to the sanctuary to provide lodging for pilgrims with stalls below for their horses.
A single dwelling on the remnants of a small farmstead near Saintfield.
New elements are arranged in relation to a derelict barn, to create the enclosure associated with vernacular clusters, and to permit connection to the rolling drumlin landscape to the south.
Forms and materiality are derived from the language of local agricultural outbuildings, simple pitched roofs of corrugated steel on masonry walls creating courts and yards, referenced to the datums set by the retained and re-used barn.
Travels / Albi
Window reveal at Cathedrale Sainte-Cecile, Albi, France.
First built as a fortress begun in 1287 and under construction for 200 years, it is claimed to be the largest brick building in the world.
Travels / Castelnaud
Floor detail in the Artillery Tower, Chateau de Castelnaud, Aquitaine, France.
Construction commenced during the 12th century.
House at Lessans
Enclosure created by the arrangement of outbuildings around simple dwellings, the sheds, barns and walls necessary for agriculture, have long defined the expression of vernacular clusters in Ireland.
This assembly of barn and shed with double yard are the remnants of a small farmstead, the original farmhouse now a neighbouring plot. Approached by an overgrown lane, the enclosure only becomes apparent when at the building, the predominant view from the lane being of the rolling drumlins beyond.
The integration of these remnants and level of enclosure provide a contextual reference for a new single dwelling.
RSUA Design Award
Home from Home RVH has received a 2014 RSUA Design Award.
'The sophistication of this entry makes it stand out as an example of the integration of a new use and a new building into an existing streetscape. Respecting all of the language of its surroundings, it makes a clearly contemporary intervention, which serves its brief exceptionally well'.
A derelict agricultural barn at Lessans near Saintfield, functional in design and constructed using the absolute minimum of materials. There is an economy and elegance associated with the steel frame, block walls and corrugated steel, originating from the frugality of farm outbuildings.
This project, on a former pig farm on an unscheduled rath near Magherafelt, has been granted full planning permission. The informally arranged single storey 'barns' are influenced by the animal buildings and yards which occupied the site, of which a single derelict shed remains, and by an earlier dwelling house on the site evident only in historic mappings.
The new barns are constructed throughout using monolithic dark coal fired brick, reflecting the presence of the existing structure, while internal insertions are robustly detailed oak. The rath will be restored.
The project was thoroughly embraced by the planning department as a sensitive approach to a dwelling in this part of rural Ulster.
Home from Home RVH has received a 2014 RIBA Award.
Intrinsic to the success of this building was the attitude of the client, CLIC Sargent, who shared our aspiration for quality throughout the project.
We have relocated.
310 Newtownards Road
Belfast BT4 1HE
+44(0) 28 9046 0838
A single speculative house of modest scale in the garden of its builder.
The plan form is derived from the site geometry and from the constraints of adjoining properties, and the design is an investigation in cost effective construction.
The roof forms relate to the almost casual eaves configurations and inclines evident in simple local vernacular housing and farm buildings.
Strand Mill Belfast 2
The Castaldi Sosia suspension light is a classic of industrial design, the original product that now has countless imitations.
Founded by Enrico Castaldi in 1938, Ing. Castaldi became specialised in manufacturing industrial, watertight and explosion proof lighting appliances.
The company now produces fixtures that are not ephemeral, expressing through the innovative technical contents and the precise industrial design, ethical and aesthetic values. Fixtures that teach. The design philosophy of the company can be summarized in two simple rules.
Never copy, innovate.
Castaldi Sosia Box fitting at Strand Mill Belfast. Our preparations there are almost complete and we hope to relocate at the end of the month.
Construction is progressing at this dwelling within its austere parkland setting.
The dwelling is sited on the edge of one of a number of large tree clumps which form a classical idealised landscape.
A long low window frames a particular view of the landscape of the historic demesne. A concrete frame engages with the corner and permits the view, the modulations of the window free from structural interruption.
Tedford's Sail Loft
Tedfords Ship Chandlers, Sail & Tentmakers, was started by James Tedford in Donaghadee, moving to Donegal Quay in Belfast during the 1850's. Tedford expanded into ship-owning; his ships travelling to South America and the Caribbean.
The warehouse adjacent to the shop was an earlier building, reputed to have been built between 1760 and 1790, and is where ships sails were made. Gable fronted and of plain stucco, it has a projecting roof over hoist doors at first and second floor level which until recently bore a painted ship's figurehead, said to have belonged to one of Tedford's brigantines.
Both shop and sail loft once stood adjacent to the dockside.
The building's interior is uncompromising with no concession to decoration, entering the building one is met with the intoxicating odour of old timber and preservative.
We have recently received a commission to restore and reuse the Sail Loft Building.
Home from Home RVH
This project for the cancer charity CLIC Sargent on Belfast's Falls Road has recently reached completion.
An insertion into a double site within an historic but degraded Victorian terrace, the new building does not mimic architectural devices of the existing terrace, but seeks to build a harmonious relationship by rigorous respect for its core character.
The plan is set back at the rear to create a courtyard. Openings in the masonry skin are deeply recessed to the front elevation offering protection from the busy street, and flush with the robust brick facades to the rear in response to the surprise of the open views of the hills.
Strand Mill Belfast
Strand Spinning Mill in east Belfast was once the largest flax tow spinning mill in the world, however the steady decline of the UK textile industry forced the mill to close at the end of 1983. The mill was reinvigorated during the 1980's as Portview Trade Centre, providing useable workspaces for small businesses.
B101 is on the first floor, and has fine views north west over saw-tooth industrial roofs and workers terraces towards Belfast dockyards and Blacks Mountain. The memory of the mill remains in the painted brick walls, and in the worn and stained light terracotta floor.
We will be relocating our practice to B101 during March.