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FRIDAY 19 DECEMBER 2014

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Dwelling House, Dublin, Ireland

Friday 06 Jan 2012
 

Dwell on it

 
Ross Cahill-O'Brien 
 
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Award Entry

Dwelling House looks out towards the sea on a sylvan hillside. 

This house stands near the summit of a sylvan hillside, facing southeast towards the sea. The site was once part of the former grounds of a large nineteenth century villa. The Victorians had terraced and planted the grounds, and so, the gardens were carved into the hillside, producing cuttings or walls of natural granite slabs. The Granite being particular to this hillside, as surrounding lands is made up of sedimentary slate. These stone slabs was quarried and much sought after in former times, being used to build military structures, such as the ‘Martello Towers' and port harbor walls. Nearby, a granite quarry, now lies aged, wooded over and has cliff like edges and surfaces of exposed slabs. This has inspired the firm to build the building as if it grew out of the bedrock using granite ashlar, arranged in large angular walls, sculpted out in the direction of the sea. Planning restrictions protected sea views over the top of the dwelling, so the height of the building was limited to that of the rear boundary wall. While the use of granite integrates the dwelling with the bedrock, the team wanted to use a sedum planting on the roof, to continue the effect of a green carpet of the gorse and heather hilltop out towards the sea.

The client wished for a contemporary house that would sit comfortably with the larger, older, Victorian and Edwardian dwellings nearby. Fine edged steel capping, protects the timber and stone walls from weathering, hides the guttering and thickness of the roof buildup. These capping's express the lines of the building also point out to sea, as if they were the modern day stringcourses. Large ashlar stonework, full solid corner stones and lime mortar joints, continue the tradition of building stonework found in the harbor walls, and towers nearby.

The form of the dwelling being ‘T' shaped splits the site into two distinct gardens, the motor court to the outside and the private enclosed grounds to the inside. Approaching the house from the roadway below, the front door comes into view, at the top of a granite stair to the side of the Motor court. Climbing up the stair, feeling the sheer walls of the building, the wall begins to sweep at the top, to draw you in towards the entrance vestibule. This sheer wall is set at an angle 4 degrees, to the otherwise orthogonal building walls. It provides drama to the entrance stairs, giving a sense artificial perspective. It is also co-planar with the outside wall of the entrance vestibule. This acts as a notional threshold line, as one seamlessly passes from outside to inside the walls of the dwelling. Continuous shadow gaps are maintained between steps, floor and walls guide one along to the entrance.

Once inside, breathtaking views carry you eye out, to far reaching sea and mountains beyond over a plate like green garden podium. The walls bounding this garden gets softer with painted timber panels and large glass sliding pocket screens, replacing the granite and blurring the inside/outside divide. Curved glass screens add softness as they play with the otherwise rectangular building lines, popping the inside spaces out to take advantage of views beyond.  

Key Facts

Status Completed
Value 0(m€)
Were you involved in this scheme?
Cahill-O'Brien Associates
 
Vola
ECOWAN
 

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