Cornagall, Co Monaghan

Co monaghan

Building On A Slope.


A steeply sloping site accessed via a narrow lane in rural County Monaghan had an existing planning permission for a detached dwelling when purchased by my clients. My reaction to the existing design was clear: it was an anybody, anywhere house, was oversized, poorly laid out and largely ignored the characteristics of the site.


To realise a decent house within the available budget would require a much smaller and better designed home. There is a belief, especially with rural properties, that bigger is always better. If you are to spend your working life paying off a mortgage on a property, make sure you get the property you actually need, with adaptability for the future.


Site conditions and aspect should inform every design and they were the starting point here. Multiple forms and configurations were investigated for the house, but ultimately the budget dictated as compact and efficient a form as possible. To that end, it was proposed to create a narrow shelf in the slope on which to sit a compact rectangular 2-storey dwelling. Surrounding earthworks would avoid the need for expensive retaining structure.


The site slopes down to a small stream and has commanding views of unspoiled countryside. To maximise those long panoramic views it was decided to place the living spaces ‘upstairs’—due to the contours of the site, the house is entered as this level. Designing the living spaces in an en filade arrangement minimised the amount corridor internally. These living spaces flow toward a south-facing terrace with steps down to the garden level. Accommodated at the lower level consists bedrooms and bathrooms—each with the ideal easterly aspect.


Stylistically, the house seeks to avoid all connotations with ‘suburban’ architecture—the aesthetic of having being ‘dropped’ onto a site, regardless of location. It might be described as ‘contemporary vernacular’—it is instantly recognisable as a familiar rural form.

area 183m2
status Planning Granted, Autumn 2014.