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Bohermore House by Boyd Cody Architects, Graiguenamanagh, County Kilkenny, Ireland

COMMENDATION AR HOUSE 2010 Large expanses of glazing open up Boyd Cody’s rural retreat to the surrounding countryside. Photography by Paul Tierney

The County Kilkenny town of Graiguenamanagh is a lyrical elision of three separate words. Their meaning is ‘village of the monks’, and today the somnolent settlement has expanded to just a thousand inhabitants. Of their number is Peter Cody - co-founder of the Dublin-based practice Boyd Cody Architects - who designed Bohermore House for himself as a rural retreat from metropolitan life in the Irish capital.

The architect has chanced upon a wonderful spot to escape the onset of urban enervation. The field is only a short walk from the town, but slopes away from the lane that leads there; gently declining to the south, it offers cherished views across meadows towards Mount Brandon.

The design accentuates these attributes, closing it off to the road and opening it up to the surrounding landscape. Completing at the beginning of 2009, at 100m² the house uses under half of its 15 x 15m footprint. Its simple yet inventive plan alternately shifts five single-storey volumes off the middle axis to create a series of open-sided courtyards between the rooms.

Rather than a corridor, this central route creates an enfilade that progresses from kitchen to bedroom, dining, and sitting room. These programmatic variations are only subtly spatially articulated, with internal widths increasing from 1m to 5m and heights - following the site’s natural topography - from 2.1m to 2.7m. The road-facing facade and the end-walls on the east and west are all closed rendered block-work. But all other elevations are glazed to frame views of the courtyards and the outlying verdant countryside.

Architect Boyd Cody Architects, Dublin, Ireland

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