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2007 – Knocktopher Friary, Co. Kilkenny

Architect: ODOS Architects

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A friary extension and refurbishment in Co. Kilkenny, the project unifies friary and church with a new residential cloister. The original collection of extensions and lean to structures to the rear of the Friary building and adjoining Church were demolished and a new master plan for this small complex of buildings was conceived around a new central courtyard. The masterful way in which this has been carried out is obvious in plan but could be overlooked when looking at the images. After removing years of incremental expansion, and after negotiations with heritage officials, the architect’s cloister establishes two new axis. The horizontal axis extends the floor level of the church across the entire precinct, whilst the vertical axis from the western edge of the cloister to the eastern facade of the friary links back to the church. Through these two key controlling lines, the use of simple forms and stripped back materials has been applied to produce a harmonious new order. Full height panels of treated cedar wood boards, board marked in situ concrete and clear double glazing sit on a plinth of fair faced concrete the top of which extends the datum of the Church floor throughout the site. These materials sit on a simple bed of white gravel in the courtyard with the added focus of a mature olive tree set to one corner. The detailing of all external skins helps to accentuate the choice of materials, frames are recessed and the board marked concrete walls extend into both the reception and dining room areas, blurring the transition between internal and external areas. Ventilation panels to all rooms and external doors are set flush with the surrounding cedar wood cladding and when not in use both disappear from view. All new living accommodation provides carefully framed views of the surrounding countryside and the building itself when viewed from a distance sits comfortably into the landscape carefully wrapped around the original structure.

Photographs Copyright: Ros Kavanagh