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House in Clonakilty, Cork

  • Architect:
    Niall McLaughlin Architects
  • Award Type:
    Best Building in the Landscape 2005
  • Location: Munster
House in Clonakilty, Cork


Southern Over €300,000

Architect’s Comment
We have converted the old cottage and boathouse and we have added an extension. An asymmetric, cruciform cloister links them. The new arrangement is built around a little courtyard. Sunlight is precious stuff and we have designed the new extension to capture the last scraps of sun as it declines behind the hill in the early evening.

You discover the ocean through the house. The organisation of the building is based on a journey towards a view of the horizon. When you open the front door you see along a glazed passage towards a table, beyond which a window frames a view of a distant beach across the bay. As you walk towards the table, two new spaces open up. One is the main living space overlooking the sea. The other is the view out towards the open ocean to the south.

Dirk Cove means Dagger Cove in Irish. It could take its name from the beautiful shards of metamorphic rock that finger out to the sea from the base of the small cliffs. Between tides they fill with slivers of water giving a strong south-easterly orientation to the grain of the site. The new extension is aligned with this geological undertow and it projects beyond the sea wall, reaching ten metres out towards the water.

This autumn, it survived a one-in-twenty year storm when a Force10 south-east gale and a spring tide lined up together and hurled breakers right up to the projecting canopy of the roof.

Clients’ Comment
Door to Door it takes about four hours for us from our Hampstead home to Dirk Cove. We used to come to this part of the Country quite a bit and thought about maybe buying an old place and extending it a bit, pretty much what we have done. The idea was to find a holiday home that would eventually become somewhere to retire to.

We knew what we wanted, which was simply to maximise the views, let in as much light as possible and build a large living space.

The architect spent days here taking measurements for where the sun was at certain times so he could work out the exact orientation of the building and the results are amazing.

We have become very popular with friends and relatives since the place was finished.

Two stone sheds that stood in the shade and out of the wind are extended by a delicate glass box under a cantilever of improbable scale, straining to capture the last rays of afternoon sun. The inspiration is geological: the site's long shards of metamorphic rock jutting into the sea.