“The plan goes into a Y shape to negotiate the hill,” he says. “It’s like you get down on your hunkers, and then nudge your head forward to get views out. Once you find your position, it’s clear what to do. You can imagine it as if we got a currach and turned it upside down for shelter, and added a little flip-up roof for views out. The Douglas fir-lined belvedere was not part of the brief but it became one of their favourite rooms. It takes advantage of views you wouldn’t normally get from a bungalow. It’s not a public space within the house. Access to it is by way of a kind of secret stairs. The grandchildren go up there to play.
“All of our clients look for a fireplace,” he says. “The hearth is the destination within the house. If you feature it internally, it is only sensible to express the chimney externally as well. And it adds to the metaphor. If the belvedere may be likened to the bridge of a trawler, then the chimney is its mast or funnel. There are old stone beacons around the coast, and they are the most solid constructions in the locality. That’s where its heaviness or solidness comes from. ;.
“Of course the form is also inspired by the profile of Mount Errigal,” adds MacGabhann. “And the roof is the same colour as the mountain. We chose the colour for the basaltic colour of the local rocks, to tie the house into the landscape. The walls are wet-dashed, which is typical of coastal areas, because it dries quickly in the wind. We liked the corrugated sheeting for that reason too: it also has a large surface area. At the eaves, with their wide overhangs, rainwater drains straight off the roof, without any gutters or downpipes. Lastly, it is a largish house, so the big scale of the corrugations worked well with that. You read it from a long distance, it is not a drive-by house.”