Runner Up: Raised on a datum of traditional stone walls, this contemporary house offers sweeping views over the Irish countryside
This rural house explores a contemporary response to the contextual tradition of object in the landscape, as historically manifest by the farm dwellings and mid-sized houses of County Wexford in south-east Ireland. The site, a former farmstead, is enclosed by rough, low walls of random rubble. Now restored, these eloquent, archaeological fragments define a new walled garden that formed the starting point for the project.
The house is set within the orthogonal embrace of the walls and garden, which will eventually be planted as an orchard. Carefully negotiating levels, thresholds, privacy and orientation, it eases into the site. A slightly sunken entrance courtyard leads to the lower floor containing a trio of bedrooms overlooking a paved terrace, pool and the walled garden beyond. The boundary walls establish and sustain an intimate relationship between house and garden.
The piano nobile first floor, which contains living, dining and kitchen spaces in a single fluid volume, is supported above the datum of the garden walls and enjoys the privilege of its elevated position with views of the wider landscape. This response is developed in section. The roof is split into four parts, two of which rise to an oculus. Zenithal light illuminates the two floor levels, percolating sensuously through openings, stairs and voids. Vertical space is stacked through the section and punctuates horizontal space opening up to the landscape.
Services and storage are embedded in thick external walls. Deep timber frames support glazing at the outer section of the wall to form intimate window spaces and allow unimpeded views over terraces, garden and landscape. Furniture and lighting are employed to divide and cross internal spatial boundaries, defining and amplifying active and still spaces. The jury was struck by the sobriety and clarity of the architecture, as well as the thoughtful relationship of object to site and the handling of light.
Architect: Steve Larkin Architects
Sanitaryware: Duravit, Bette
Wall lights: Artemide
Ironmongery: Karcher Design
Photographs: Alice Clancy