The site lies on the southern periphery of Maghera, a small settlement in County Down situated around 3km north of Newcastle, and comprised a small derelict house, and a field. There are fine views south to the Mourne Mountains.
There is evidence within the settlement of a tradition and character pertaining to dwellings and their outbuildings, of simple pitched roof gabled forms, employing masonry walls of render or rubble stone, and roofs of slate or steel. The best of these examples are located such that their gables address the road.
The client, a professional couple and their 3 children, had a brief which called for a bright and spacious home which provided family and social spaces, and which complimented the village. There was a requirement to accommodate a right of way into a field behind their site, and the client was interested in the possibilities of renewable energies.
There were some simple planning constraints relating to the positioning of the building relative to the village development limits and the boundary of a Local Landscape Protection Area. Planning permission for a modest replacement dwelling was already in place.
The proposal is conceived as contributing to the context of the village, by its representation as a collection of traditional forms, casually placed and derived from the positioning and spatial geometry of the structures of the village.
Gables step in plan to accentuate the movement and change of direction of the road, and to reveal glimpses of the landscape beyond. The form of the roof reflects efficient rural construction techniques. The roof pitch of the link imposes itself on the smaller element, creating asymmetry in its gabled form and developing the idea of the roof as a folding plane. Gables are intentionally solid and without first floor openings.
Enclosure and privacy are created on the road side with masonry walls extended from the building, these overlap at the north corner to frame a friendly pedestrian stepped entrance connecting the house to the village. On the country side, the project sits on an embedded plinth which addresses the adjoining ground levels.
Materials are derived from local masonry outbuildings. Rising from a concrete plinth, the walls are render and roof zinc. Windows and doors are timber, painted monochrome to compliment the subdued grey walls, eaves and roof. Construction is masonry cavity walls and simple span roofing. In-situ concrete is employed to create open corners.
The house has level access and generous door widths at numerous points. Large sliding doors provide level access to the landscape. The generosity of space internally, particularly of circulation, promotes comfortable access throughout the dwelling. High quality detailing and materials, generous ceiling heights and tall internal doors, thick walls and warm terrazzo and timber floors, add to the airy comfort and sense of gravitas. In anticipation of the needs and requirements of those with reduced mobility, there is a bedroom and ensuite on the ground floor.