The site is within what was originally the estate of a large house in south Belfast known as Longhurst, which appears on the early editions of Ordnance Survey mappings, and which has recently been divided into a number of large residential plots. The site is approached along the laneway which leads to the original house, and the plot slopes steeply away from the lane. The boundaries are generally dense groupings of mature broadleaf trees, and there are views southward to the Lagan Valley Regional Park.

The clients, a couple and their 3 children, had a requirement for both family and separate guest sleeping areas, and generous living and entertaining spaces. Outdoor living was to be facilitated, and there was a requirement for privacy from the common laneway. There was a previous planning approval of the site which required the house to be integrated with the sloping topography, and there was a restriction in place which limited overall roof height.

The dwelling is conceived as two masonry forms, offset in section and plan to reflect the sloping ground, to articulate both the functions of the internal spaces and the external terraces, and to create both public and private spaces.

The upper form is single storey but on 2 levels, and comprises the entrances and guest facilities, gym and study, and integrates with an embedded parking court and detached garage. The 2 levels are separated by a courtyard which is designed to bring natural light deep into the plan. The lower form is two storey and contains all of the private spaces, bedrooms above and primary living spaces below. The upper level maintains a roof datum with the main entrance level, and is connected visually to the lower level through the stairwell and other voids which link the internal spaces volumetrically and which permit natural light to penetrate deep into the interior. To the south of the lower block is a covered dining area which reflects the rhythm and materiality of the building.

The two slipped forms rest on a stepped embedded plinth which negotiates the levels from public laneway to private garden, ensuring minimum impact on both the laneway and on neighbour's views, and permitting low volumes of cut and fill, whilst still engaging with the sloping ground.

Externally, the elevations are carefully composed with deep reveals, courtyards, and large areas of walls without windows, to help achieve privacy, and to avail of the long views south. Employing a combination of frame and load bearing construction techniques, horizontal elements (and chimney) are expressed in board-marked concrete, wall panels rendered, and windows stained hardwood. Floor surfaces are mainly polished concrete, and a zinc flat roof with roof lights helps retain a low profile and flood the interior with light.

Completed 2022.

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