Sky Road, Co. Galway
Approaching and entering this house, the horizon exists as a moment of contact between the ground and sky, between the new house and the existing landscape. With a desire to draw its own emphatic datum line panning from the contoured hills either side this house registers and faces the force seaward winds while creating the opportunity for sheltered microclimate within.
A forty-two-metre long cast-in-situ concrete beam spans onto two lower perpendicular flanking wings either side – one of the bedrooms and another of ancillary spaces – enables a clear-spanning living, dining and kitchen space at the core of the house. The resultant primary apertures made by the beam are in contrast to the remaining smaller window openings with their own expressed lintels.
The materiality of the house is primarily restrained in order to foreground the beauty of the surrounding landscape. Externally in-situ concrete, mute grey plaster and granite dressings sit quietly as a backdrop to the lush sheltered courtyard as well as local flora, fauna and fields beyond. Internally oak flooring, panelling and painted plaster are likewise countered by a fireplace wall in local Connemara marble that is map-like in density and scale. Adjacent to the house flowers predominate; further out, massed tall grasses provide movement. Both are knitted together by “streams” of shrubs whose colours glow in the Connemara light.
The layout and landscaping of the sheltered courtyard garden – gardened intensively – make this another room of the house. Large, lichen-covered boulders found onsite, granite patios and local stone walls provide focal points for approaching the house and encourage the use of this space. This exotic and sheltered private garden is anchored by trees and hedging saved when the site was cleared and contrasts with the nature of the far larger, outward-looking landscaping.
The landscape further from the house, forming part of the wider views, is minimally managed as fields, hedgerows, and wild areas that protect and celebrate the local flora and fauna. The main seaward-facing rooms of the house look onto the sloping ground which is managed as a traditional meadow to complement and frame the enormous borrowed view of fields and ocean beyond. 10,000 naturalised spring bulbs of crocus, fritillaries, and native daffodils, followed by summer wildflowers and their seed-heads, and then fresh autumn grass, create a changing near view that blends seamlessly into the neighbouring fields. Finally, a roof terrace accessed via external side stairs offers panoramic views over the sedum roofscape and landscape beyond.