The Irish House

Reviving historic farm buildings in the Irish countryside the Irish House seeks to replace the existing family house with a crafted retreat, a place that celebrates the heritage of both the site and family as a working farm. Accepting that with retirement, the family are now looking for a place to be together and enjoy the surrounding landscape they have long called home.

How can a cluster of agricultural buildings be re-invigorated with a new purpose?
Project & Environmental Data

Project Info

  • Location: Comber, Northern Ireland
  • Cost: £1.6
  • Designation: Area of Outstanding Beauty, Agricultural Rural Countryside
  • Image Credit: Axson Office

Environmental Data

  • Energy Efficiency
    1 2 3 4 5 6
  • Insulation
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
  • Thermal Mass
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7
  • Airtightness
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
  • Solar PV
    1 2 3 4 5 6
  • Embodied Carbon
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
  • Heating/Hot Water
    Electric Gas Ground Source Air Source
  • Solar Thermal
    Yes No
  • Rain Water Harvest
    Yes No
  • Ventilation
    MVHR Natural
  • Energy Storage
    Yes No
Contemporary Irish home in the AONB rural countryside

"My house is my refuge, an emotional piece of architecture, not a cold piece of convenience" - Luis Barragan

Crafting a house whose materiality and Irish vernacular are reflected in the contemporary replacement dwelling starts with the strong-pitched form and roots the home into its landscape both near and far. Whilst the bold colours of the metal roof celebrate the identity established by the existing barns on site. Deep punctures into the open plan space frame the long vistas out across the valley, drawing the outside in and providing critical solar shading. Re-wilding the working agricultural courtyard gives it back to the landscape and enhances the native biodiversity of the area. Also giving this back to the family as a place to gather in serenity and retreat. 

Development sketch of Irish House

The open-plan layout connects the replacement home into the historic barns, which are housing a homework area, pool and guest annexe. The orientation provides a dual aspect to the kitchen, dining and living spaces allowing them to integrate with the landscape. The rolling hills beyond and the intimate farm courtyard which has been re-landscaped to provide a sheltered space for a retreat in nature. The pitched roof form is punctured with a contemporary take on a dormer allowing the master bedroom panoramic views out, the quiet morning coffee spot as desired by the client.
The muted and natural interior palette celebrates the landscape framed in the picture windows. Clayworks provides a soft and natural backdrop and works sensitively with the historic barns. The striking red standing seam roof draws on the existing pop of colour which is prevalent in the rural vernacular of the area, a nod to tradition.

Here we questioned what home means, past, present and future. What is it that connects the generations of a family whilst also allowing them their own space and chance to retreat.

We question. We work hard to realise the narrative potential in every situation. Each project we undertake is bespoke, responding directly to your needs and the wider project context. We have a wealth of planning experience and practical knowledge, delivering unique homes including Paragraph 80 (formerly Paragraph 79) developments. Although our private work is predominantly focused on new-build houses, we also breathe new life into old, working with existing and historic buildings. We are committed to making joyful places to be, using less energy and enhancing their setting at all levels.

Natural interior for farm retreat