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February 7, 2008

Sleeping giant huddles into the landscape

This is a house of contradictions and counterbalances, and it causes the mind to wrestle with these right from the first view of it: it is a large abode, at 500sq m (5,398sq ft), and yet it closely hugs, and flows over its hollowed rocky site. Also, because it is first seen from above (before descending its steep drive), it it is distant and interesting rather than in-your-face overwhelming. This is what design guidelines have been begging people to do with houses: respecting the site and its contours rather than heralding from the hilltop. Another counterbalance is between the building’s heaviness and lightness, provided by varying textures in the walls: from the structural rock at the base of the walls, to the varying shapes of glass above and the concrete roof panels which sparkle from the granite within them. Both outside and within, the building is busy and yet calm at them same time. Staircases narrow and widen, many working as secret passages reached through unexpected doorways. Rooms connect to rooms they are not conventionally meant to (except now you realise that they should: it makes sense that a child’s bedroom has a tiny door into the kitchen for early morning wake-ups and quick access to parents and cereal). The ceilings slope upwards and downwards bearing little relation to what the spaces below it are doing.

The Irish Times

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