Photography: Dennis Gilbert + Philip Lauterbach
This is a house for music built on a sound at the mouth of an estuary in the Rosses. The Rosses is a glacial landscape of roches moutonées and drowned estuaries. The site is on a promontory overlooking the confluence of two estuaries or rias. This promontory is at the end of an isthmus joining what was an island of granite back to the mainland. The sandy isthmus is the landing strip for Donegal airport.
The footprint of the building straddles a cleft facing south up one estuary and looking East along the Gweedore River to the quartzite cone of Errigal Mountain in the background. These cardinal points organise the plan around a central kitchen embedded in a hollow in the site giving glimpses out to the surrounding topography while providing shelter from the elements.
A spine of bedrooms lines the house to the North with south facing clerestory entering the section. To the South a sitting room hunkers in the heath by the sea. The kitchen sits between these elements with views of Errigal to the East, the sea to the South. The evening sun enters through the walled and bermed west facing entrance court. The chimney anchors these elements in the landscape and incorporates light shafts and stairs within its girth.
The floor is a concrete raft floating in the sand and peat with a stepped section following the underlying rock. The walls are of heavy masonry with lime plaster from local sand. The bedrooms are roofed with slates given to the clients as a wedding present. The lower spaces are turfed over with sod from the site with steps giving access to the sitting room roof from the entrance court. This roof forms an elevation to the sky, maintains habitat and shelters the space below from the elements around. Roof timbers and joinery elements are of larch. The aggregates and sands in the concrete are local, sandblasted outside and polished inside.
The floor is heated from a ground source heat pump. The materials are disposed for acoustic effect and secondary spaces open off the kitchen to create a rich sound for session music. The sitting room is isolated and skewed for recording purposes. The setting changes from sand to water and back again as the tide ebbs and flows.
ABAUTDONAGHY + DIMOND ARCHITECTS
Donaghy + Dimond Architects was established in 2001 by Marcus Donaghy and Will Dimond, two architects with extensive experience of working on urban and rural design projects in Ireland and abroad. The practice has developed a reputation for high-quality innovative, sustainable design, winning numerous RIAI, AAI and Opus
Awards for their completed projects. Inchicore National School by Donaghy +Dimond Architects was shortlisted for the 2017 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van Der Rose Award and won the the AAI Downes Medal for excellence in architectural design in 2016. Their work has been published and exhibited in Ireland, Europe and the USA.
Projects range from new-build through refurbishment / conservation; furniture and landscaping / garden projects, with clients including The Department of Education and Skills; local authorities, universities; arts organizations such as Create Ireland and WCAC; charitable bodies; commercial organizations and private domestic commissions.
Marcus Donaghy and Will Dimond lecture in Architecture at UCD and conduct thesis units under the topics of Continuity and Ecology.