Tuam House, Galway

A lone turn-of-the-century cottage in a field becomes the measure for a new family home. Together with this cottage three additional blocks of similar size complete a sheltered kitchen garden at the heart of the house.

The new house is anchored by a series of dry cut stonewalls. On entering the site to the north one is held between a raised tree bed in front of the cottage and a cranking wall that leads you to the entrance. Three terraced planters embank the house to the south.

A datum line is established by the eaves of the existing cottage interrupted only by the cottage roof, new chimney stacks and a kitchen rooflight.

The modesty of the cottage construction is carried in the continued use of a rendered concrete block. The dressed limestone cills of the cottage encourage the occasional use of dressed stone for steps and wall cappings. To reinforce the heart of the house the kitchen garden walls are painted with deep red mineral pigment. All other walls are painted with a neutral grey.

From the exterior, the new house presents itself as a solid form selectively eroded to allow window opes and to form recessed external terraces to the south and west. A new entrance porch to the north shifts the original entry axis from the existing cottage.

On entering, a flagged limestone floor becomes a level threshold to the house and its kitchen garden. The original cottage accommodates an office and a playroom that will become a library over time. A kitchen/dining area is orientated towards a west-facing terrace. Elements of built-in oak furniture punctuate circulation. A number of steps lead down to the oak-floored living and sleeping areas as well as the terraced gardens to the south.