RIAI Regional Award 2006
The site is situated in an extremely exposed location adjacent to Coliemore Harbour in Dalkey. It is bounded by the sea and Dalkey Island to the East and Coliemore Road to the West. The challenge of the brief was to design a building closer in form to a lighthouse than a conventional house with the complex site geometry and level changes down to the foreshore. The intention was to design a modest, insignificant entrance pavilion with an open garden/terrace that does not prepare the visitor for the unique drama of the seaward elevation.
To protect the house against the sea a reinforced insitu concrete framed structure, was anchored to the bedrock and incorporating a granite faced concrete breakwater to create a tidal rockpool. The breakwater, which is submerged during the twice daily high tides, has stepped access to the pool and into the sea.
The house itself is designed at two levels. The two storey section containing the entrance block, living, dining and sleeping areas is connected vertically via central toplit double height stair hall to a screening cinema, guest accommodation and spa that extend across the full length of the site at the lower level. These lower level rooms are very private spaces and are linked directly to a continuous terrace overlooking the tidal rockpool and Dalkey Island. This subterranean level has a cave-like section with a deep plan and darker rear retaining walls on one side and floor to ceiling glass towards the sea views. We introduced natural light along the length of the rear walls using precast concrete glass block rooflights and a clear span toughened glass rooflight to the two storey stair well. The concrete sea retaining walls are re-clad using old granite rocks from the site to create a continuous, uninterrupted sea wall.