There was a small house on this site in the shadow of Mount Leinster. Fairly typical of what you might find anywhere in rural Ireland, it had recently been built by a father for his son, who was working abroad. It faced on to the road, ignoring wonderful views in two directions – of the mountain to one side and a long valley on the other.
When it came to adding a much-needed social space for the house, Ryan Kennihan first studied the traditional farmhouses there in the foothills of the Blackstairs Mountains, noting the loose informal relationships that exist between vernacular buildings of different periods. “Some are linear, but others snake along in response to the contours, with a wonderful asymmetry. I wanted to make a simple thing, as if it had been designed from the start,” he says. “Not a cottagey thing with an addition tacked on, but a unified project.
“We stripped off the twee porch and decorative plaster quoins, reducing the existing house to simple gables, punched windows and a pitched roof, while keeping the internal layout. Then we hinged the new room about the gable to take advantage of the views. We took the ridge height, roof pitch and building depth from the original. We extended the eaves, so you can walk around outside under cover. And we gave the new room more dramatic openings – long bay windows that appear to hang from the eaves.”
The plan of the extension, which is primarily one big room zoned for different uses, is a double square. Three of the four bays are full-height, while the end bay contains a small patio porch, a wine room and a stairs to a gym and sauna in the attic space: this unusual arrangement has resulted in a quirky, charming and thoroughly memorable gable elevation.
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