Steve Larkin Architects makes innovative use of sash windows to open up a house in rural Ireland
Steve Larkin Architects
Hacketstown, County Carlow, Ireland
Steve Larkin Architects’ recently completed house in County Carlow, Ireland, is an intelligent modern interpretation of a traditional local typology: part traditional farmhouse, part Aldo Rossi-esque.
In form the building is close to its vernacular sources — a simple long house with a pitched roof and the end gable facing onto the adjacent road. In appearance the house is also suggestive of its neighbours, with roughcast natural finish render walls with a slate roof.
While the typical local type is nestled within a cluster of buildings, the Ballyedmond house stands isolated, the crisp profile of its roof framed against the distant Wicklow mountain range.
The house is modest in size and the basic layout is accordingly simple, a ground floor with kitchen/dining room, sitting room and a bedroom and a first floor with a study, two bedrooms and a bathroom. The first-floor access corridor has been widened and fitted out as a library to house the client’s book collection.
However, the clients for the house were returning to the area after a time spent in Dublin and the detailing of the building’s remarkable sash windows betrays a parallel interest in the Georgian windows of that city that, combined with the local typological awareness, has created a richly rewarding project.
The site is butterfly shaped and the building is located at the pinch point, neatly dividing the site in two and bringing the clients into close daily contact with the wildlife of the perimeter ditches and hedgerows. The siting also allowed the creation of two distinct outside areas for the clients, who are keen gardeners: a kitchen garden to the north-west and an orchard garden to the south-east.
Single-storey walls extend out from the compact plan in all directions, connecting to the north to a rainwater pool and to the south to an as yet unbuilt gatehouse and framing views, forming protected micro-environments and connecting the small house with the landscape of the mountains beyond.
Source: Alice Clancy
The house is entered through a colonnade. Once inside, full-height windows line the north and south sides of the kitchen/ dining room, while a single internal concrete column divides the space, suggesting the way ahead and up to the first-floor accommodation, or through and into the habitable space.
Source: Alice Clancy
The windows on either side of the room are in fact full-height hardwood sash windows, detailed so that when opened they recede into spaces within the first-floor wall thickness. The realisation of this fact helps one understand the building’s facades better; the characteristic alternating of solids and voids on ground and first in elevation suggesting where window openings and housings are.
The window detail allows the client to open the building up completely, the textural similarity between the roughcast render pilasters and the concrete with its coarse aggregate and needled finish allowing the ground floor to read as an open colonnade. The house no longer separates the two gardens, becoming instead an open-sided columned room that connects the outdoor spaces to either side.
Architect Steve Larkin Architects
Client Breandán Mac Cormaic and Máire de Paor
Structural engineer Peter Brunner & Associates
Main contractor Carbery Construction
Windows & doors supplier PJ Dunbar Joiner