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Touching the ground lightly

West Cork

Developed in close collaboration with the client, a talented designer, this project is for the development of a single dwelling on a sensitive site in West Cork. The sloping site is densely wooded and affords long views out over the Atlantic Ocean. The site contains the ruins of an old fishing village and is bounded to one side by a graveyard and a church.

The ruinous cottages of the old fishing village and overgrown scrub offer the existing site an archaic and romantic nature. Conceptually, the proposal seeks to maintain and reinforce the existing sense of place and charm that is afforded by the site. Accordingly, the proposal takes its cue from the ruinous and overgrown nature of the site. Given the sensitivity of the site and the significance of the ruins we conceived the project as a house that would “touch the ground lightly.”

The base of the building is a new “ruin” that is conceived as an extension of the exiting escarpment. The ruin contains the houses vertical circulation and “servant” spaces. Resting on the “ruin is a framed element that houses bedrooms at the upper level and the living spaces at lower level. The framed element is conceptually conceived as a lightweight frame of a timber boat that has become snagged in the tree and ruins.

Developed through a series of intense workshops with the client, the resulting design delivers both an innovative solution that meets the client’s aspirations and is assimilated into the sensitive site.