During my years of undergrad studies at the University of Ulster, I was contacted by Clare Jordan who wished to build a new house close to the family farm in which she grew up in. The house was for herself and her daughter Norah.
We arranged a meeting and from quite early on the qualities of the project were already becoming quite clear. The agricultural family farm demanded a traditional, quaint and natural response. The house was not intended to appear like it stood for decades but to feel new, however, with a respect towards the countryside and farmyard context.
The house would not only be a home for Clare and Norah but also a creative art studio and open studio forClare Jordan Ltd. Clare’s website below gives us an insight into her passion for vintage and handcraft, and how growing up on the family farm has influenced her artistic directions.
At the time of the design process, meetings with Clare and planning meetings I was researching for my third year dissertation. I was researching Hassan Fathy’s notion of the ‘Trinity’: which proposed that a successful building isn’t designed solely by the architect but rather the perfect collaboration between the architect (designer), the user (client) and the craftsman.
I tried to understand this idea in the light of the project, and rather than meet Clare with plans of what I thought was the perfect house, instead, adopt an approach of meeting after meeting and allow Clare’s creativities and interests to take centre stage as well as eventually providing a professional and technical set of ‘blueprints’ for these visions of home and work to be built by the labourers, tradesmen and stonemasons.
The design process led to the planning application and construction of a 3 bedroom, dormer style, solid granite exterior wall finished dwelling, with ground floor design studio and garage. The external wall finish is locally sourced solid Carlow granite and one of the few Carlow granite houses built in previous decades. The ground floor plan is an elaboration of the old Irish farm house plan of central staired hallway to the front and bathroom to the rear, with two main spaces either side, with additional studio space and covered evening terrace areato the rear corner. Each upstairs bedroom has a front dormer with the 2 larger rooms provided with an additional rear skylight for cross ventilation and a small bright gable window puncturing through the granite walls.
This project will always hold the special place as my first completed building as designer, and with Clare’s exceptional job in co-designing, project managing and interior and exterior decoration it may be a long time again before I can associate to something so sweet, modest and beautiful.