New build by the sea in Donegal, Ireland

In an inspirational coastal setting, this contemporary take on a traditional Irish home was designed to embrace its surroundings and be a sociable space for three generations of family.

By Hannah Fenton | 29 September 2017

In an inspirational coastal setting, this contemporary take on a traditional Irish home was designed to embrace its surroundings and be a sociable space for three generations of family.

New build by the sea in Donegal Ireland 5

Set on an elevated site in Donegal on Ireland’s north-west tip, Tony and Mary Bateman’s house boasts a stunning vista that overlooks Gola island and the other islands in the archipelago of Inishfree Bay. When you first encounter this strikingly modern home you are immediately impressed by the clean crisp angles of the exterior and the flow of light that is channelled through the internal space.

Designed by MacGabhann Architects, it was built in 2009. The brief was to come up with an innovative design that would capitalise on the views and allow as much light into the house as possible. ‘The first consideration was the location,’ says Tarla MacGabhann of MacGabhann Architects. ‘The weather can be very changeable here; as we walked about the site to decide on the location, within the space of a few hours we had driving rain, strong winds and bright sunshine.’ ‘So ultimately it was the weather that helped influence the decision on the positioning of the house. It’s nestled near a rocky outcrop which is to the east of the house and offers some shelter from the harsh, variable conditions.’

New build by the sea in Donegal Ireland 2

The Batemans were keen that the house would also workwith the landscape. They didn’t want it to be at all conspicuous; it had to be harmonious with its dramatic surroundings, so the angles and lines of the house were derived from the jagged forms of the local terrain. ‘Tony and Mary were keen to bring in the latest in architectural thinking and connect this to the Donegal vernacular, as they wanted torespect the landscape,’ explains MacGabhann. ‘Thankfully, our practice is familiar with the stringent planning regulations so we were careful to make sure the design met all the local requirements to prevent any delays.’

The house was designed to utilise natural materials, drawing inspiration from the traditional farmhouses in thearea. Its whitewashed render and corrugated roof are reminiscent of an agricultural barn meaning the modern structure sits perfectly in the surrounding landscape. ‘The property is quitenarrow, similar to a traditional Irish long house,’ says MacGabhann. ‘It’s one room deep, so by incorporating largewindows on either side of the main rooms the light floods in from the west and the east and theviews can be enjoyed to both sides simultaneously.