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Knocktpher Friary by ODOS Architects, Knocktopher, County Kilkenny, Ireland

ODOS unite friary and church with a new residential cloister. Photography by Ros Kavanagh

Readers with keen eyes will note that this project has already featured in the AR. Entered for the 2007 Emerging Architecture Awards, the scheme was not selected by that year’s jury, but it did hold their attention and remained in contention to the end of the deliberation process.

This led to it being selected by the editors for eventual publication as part of an issue on houses (AR March 2008). The scheme is extremely subtle and deserves close scrutiny. Such scrutiny came this year; having re-submitted the scheme, ODOS Architects has finally been rewarded as one of this year’s four main prize winners.

Easy to overlook when skimming the images, the plan shows the masterful way in which the architects have unified friary and church with a new residential cloister. Stripping away years of incremental expansion and adaptation, while negotiating their case with heritage officials, the architect’s cloister establishes two new axis: one horizontal, extending the floor level of the church across the entire precinct, and one vertical, with the western range of the cloister neatly engaging with the eastern facade of the friary and linking through to the back of the church. Through these two key controlling lines, ODOS’ trademark use of simple forms and stripped back materials has been applied to produce a harmonious new order.

Darrell O’Dononghue, co-founder of Dublin-based ODOS, describes the design rationale: ‘Our desire to keep things a simple as possible, to keep the parapets as low as possible and to provide simple, unadorned elevations both inside and out, resonated with our client’s need for a series of calm residential spaces.’

Architect: ODOS Architects, Dublin, Ireland

Associate architect: O’Shea Design Partnership

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