Dublin based ODOS Architects have remodelled a farm house in Ireland, integrating the natural landscape, an old structure and the new built mass without compromising on functional requirements.
Renovations and remodelling can sometimes be big architectural challenges, since the designer is playing with a setting that already exists and often has to reshape the building’s identity without ripping out its soul. To renovate architecture dating back centuries in a setting where the surrounding natural splendour is breathtaking is certainly a big ask. And this is exactly what Dublin based design firm ODOS Architects had on their plate when they were commissioned for the renovation of an 18th century farm house nestled in the beautiful woodlands of Longford County, Ireland.
The existing farmhouse is a typical building of the 18th century with a sloping roof, arched fenestrations and a material palette consisting of stone, brick and slate. The building encloses three sides of a courtyard while an old crumbling stone wall completes the fourth side – the entire frame resembling an old postcard. The clients wanted to refurbish and extend the farmhouse and stable complex by replacing the old wings and create a dramatic contemporary addition to the building.
ODOS Architects went about this brief by adding a 450 square metre single storey wing, skewered into the existing plan, together with en-suite bedrooms, bathrooms, a studio and other living spaces. The new addition pierces the old wing and is raised off the ground. It creates an open-plan where the spaces – living, kitchen and dining area, interact with each other in continuity.
At the far end of the new block the floor plate has been extended beyond the dining room translating into a terrace, creating a connection between the inside space and the surroundings. The old building, with its stone walls and small openings, failed to connect with the external elements, and hence in the new wing the architects have tried to explore a more constant dialogue between the interior spaces and the external landscape.
The walls of the new wing are mostly transparent – large openings of frameless glass that give uninterrupted view of the woodlands.
These openings and terraces create the much required ‘inside-outside’ connection. The master bedroom addition at the rear of the building too ends in a glazed surface where the vertical cedar siding on either side engages with the surrounding trees.
External facades of the new additions are not similar to the old building, but the material transition is inescapable – textural similarities and familiarity of materials threads the new and old facades. The material palette is a combination of glass, oiled cedar cladding and sand blasted plaster; and while the sand blasted walls relate to the rough textural qualities of the old structure, the wooden cladding takes the edifice closer to the woodlands around it.
Clean lines and simple massing define the design of the new wing and the simplicity is continued into the interiors where the décor is unfussy and surfaces are painted white. The ashen monotony is broken by colourful furniture and accessories; they either contrast with the setting infusing colour, or merge into the ivory tones of the room. The interiors are soft and inviting and do not dominate the architecture which is a transparent bridge to the lush landscape.
ODOS architects use eco-friendly materials and green practices in all their projects. This is evident from the high-efficiency wood pellet boiler used for the under-floor heating and the eco-cem flooring instead of the traditional cement flooring used in this residence.
The Ballymahon renovation exemplifies the adage ‘less is more’, with its delicate balance of many contrasting elements of texture, colour, material, façade treatments and planning styles. The glazed surfaces and rich wooden cladding of the new wing renders the surroundings a warmth and cosiness that was initially devoid in the stone clad courtyard. The architects did not approach the project vernacularly, but sought the client’s needs and bridged the time gap between two different design styles using elements of curiosity and adventure.
The public, semi-public and private spaces have been reassigned, carved in simple lines, forms and rich palettes. Like always, ODOS Architects hit the core of design by remodelling the home to create conversations with the landscape and threaded the new into the old with ease and aplomb.
Text By K Parvathy Menon
Photographs Courtesy The Architects