Carton Levert which is also referred to as the Greenbox Studio is located in Rathmullan, County Donegal was designed by MacGabhann Architects in Letterkenny in recent years with the design team consisting of brothers Antoin and Tarla MacGabhann, Patrick McGinley and Claire Faulkner.
The property which is located in a picturesque part of North West Ireland encompasses the client’s existing home as well as a designer’s studio and guest accommodation which forms a courtyard with the design of the house and its out-buildings taking inspiration from its surroundings of local farmyards whilst ensuring the property was pragmatic.
Rathmullan which means Maoláin’s ring fort is a small seaside village on the Fanad Peninsula. It is situated on the western shore of Lough Swilly and it is 11km north-east of Ramelton and 12km east of Milford. Rathmullan serves as an important historical village as it was the scene of the Flight of the Earls in 1607 which was a major turning point in Irish history.
“I grew up with the female home owner of the property, then I went on to live in Berlin as did she and when I was there I met up with her and her husband and they moved back to Ireland in or around the same time as I did and upon their return home they approached my brother Antoin and I about designing the house,” said Tarla MacGabhann as to his involvement with the property. “Every project is the result of specific client requirements so with this property the clients wanted a house where the living area was flexible and so that they could move walls easily within the main living, dining and bedroom area.
“At the time of designing the house, they wanted their work studio as a part of the house so for that reason we put all of the fixed elements in the concrete part of the house and then within the timber part of the house, the walls are made out of timber stud and the room (the big box) is sub-divided using shelving and stud walls so it means that it is a flexible space to move around as the home owners require and they’ve already changed the layout,” explained Mr MacGabhann. “The house has two elements to the property. There is the solid concrete part which has the stone slate roof on it and then the other part of the property is the timber part with a corrugated tin roof on it which means the roof is light and flexible,” he enthused.
Antoin MacGabhann Snr. was designing in Ireland since 1975, and his practice of MacGabhann Architects began to expand in 1997 with sons Antoin and Tarla joining. Since then the practice has grown to become an award-winning office with projects successfully completed for public and private sector clients.
At the practices core is client care, which they aim to provide through innovative and exciting design together with professional management and delivery. With every project they take time to understand their clients’ aspirations and requirements and use this as a basis for developing unique design solutions.
The spatial arrangement of the courtyard springs from the typology of the rural building cluster of informal and often unplanned courtyards rather than the classical arrangements of the model farmyard.
When you are inside the concrete part of the property you are very aware of where you are within the property,” imparted Tarla.
“There wasn’t problems throughout the build. We had a very good builder called Con Sheridan working on the project with us. He is also a local craftsman, he was very patient with us and he allowed us to experiment with different things. From beginning to end, the project took 18 months,” said Mr MacGabhann.
The vertical nature of the corrugated cladding contrasts with the horizontal board marked concrete of the adjacent house, this contrast is accentuated by the mass and permanence of the concrete and the transience and delicacy of the corrugated metal. “In the concrete part of the property, high density polyurethane insulation in the cavity and in the timber part of the property, mineral wool is used for insulation. The cladding on the outside of the house is Cedar and Douglas fir is used on the floors inside,” he revealed. “It’s a very warm property.”
The studio itself is orientated to maximise its views and any available sunlight; for this reason the roof is lifted up on one side to get western sunlight into the studio, and while the sunlight diminishes as it moves further west then the aperture of window reduces. This upturned roof also serves to draw the eye to the wonderful views.
“We’re always working on a few (unique properties) and I would like to work on a property like this again,” enthused Tarla.“The style of the house is very unusual,” said Con Sheridan. “There were a lot of challenges with this house as we were trying to join the various elements of the property together and so forth. It’s an eye-catching house. A lot of work was done on this particular project. “Cedar was used at the front of the property and board concrete was used at the back of the house,” added Mr Sheridan. “It was interesting the way the home owners used a mixture of cedar and board concrete on the house. “It was a great property to work on,” enthused Con.
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