The rolling hills of Ireland's County Cork has a bold new intervention courtesy of the Swiss. Tacked onto an unassuming cottage is an extension that overcomes and positively takes advantage of the topography. It's the work of Zurich firm Markus Schietsch Architekten, and was commissioned by a member of the founder's family.
Ireland is peppered with small houses, often built on family-owned farmland, that have evolved over the years with a series of add-ons. 'In Ireland it is normal to build new houses next to the old ones,' says Markus Schietsch, 'The old houses get abandoned and function as stables, stone pits or just become ruins.' This house on the outskirts of the village Inchigeelagh was last expanded in the 1990s. But while the Irish are used to seeing all manner of architectural forms and tastes amalgamated on a single plot, Schietsch's design has significant stand-out.
The extension, which is no higher than the chimney of the existing property, travels from the main house along the flat ground and then curves up into what the architects call 'an expressive sculpture'.
The architects pulled off this feat by borrowing from boat-building techniques. 'A wooden rib structure was erected, onto which multiple layers of plywood were applied.' Schietsch explains. To add to the hull or funnel reference, the structure was covered with a slate-grey coating of liquid plastic.
The upshot is fabulous views of the wild countryside from the upper storey master bedroom, and a house embedded 'even more strongly into the surrounding area,' adds Schietsch, whose firm completed another intriguing roof design in the summer of 2014 at Zurich Zoo's Elephant House. As well as the master bedroom, the 150 m sq extension houses a partially-subterranean bathroom and large living space the width of the structure, which has large glazed sliding doors on either side.