Polyurethane Free Construction – Old & New

The existing house dates back to the 1790s when natural materials prevailed. Taking inspiration from this era, the repairs to the existing house are carried out using only natural materials and the new extension too. This is achieved in the new extension with the use of FOAM GLASS GRAVEL for underground insulation, POROTON CLAY BLOCK construction for the walls and WOODFIBRE BOARD, SHEEP WOOL INSULATION & NATURAL SLATE for the roof – achieving a POLYURETHANE FREE CONSTRUCTION!

Design Concept for refurbishment & extension

The substantially deteriorated and originally poorly designed & built lean-to annexe is replaced with a new extension. This new building addresses the road frontage and its approach with a new face (façade) of architectural merit. It is shifted by approx. 3m to the south to allow views of the original farmhouse from the road. The proportions of the existing house are repeated in height & width & roof outline in the new extension to give a sympathetic response to the protected structure. Modern & Old compliment each other in a balanced way with carefully selected natural materials such as the wood cladding façade which also emphasises the contrast the building methods of different eras. The function of the extension is furthermore interwoven with the existing main house by the shared staircase creating interesting split levels. Most importantly however, the extension accommodates the modern services such as bathrooms & kitchen which will bring Ballyhogan House back to life and fit for modern use in the 21st Century.

Historical Background

Ballyhogan House is an interesting example of how houses used to be placed on the site / land. In this case the house is orientated to the most picturesque views of the rolling landscape. It was also an understanding of that time that direct sunlight damaged furniture & interior fabrics such as wall paper & rugs. This was due to the furniture seals being of natural materials as were the dyes in the fabrics, as opposed to now where there are many synthetic materials which are unaffected by the ultra violet rays of the sun. Therefore large windows were orientated towards the north east which would only get the weakest morning sun, as is the case in Ballyhogan House. Another criteria for placing a building was using the attributes of the thermal mass of stone. This was achieved by maximising solid stone wall surfaces on the sides of the building which received the most sun. Ballyhogan House illustrates this with its south elevation having no windows and hence acting as a solid wall storage device for passive solar heat gain. Finally many houses and cottages of its time were orientated to protect from the wind, on the one hand for shelter on the other to prevent heat being swept away. For example most homes were of a rectangular shape and were placed so as to deflect the prevailing winds from the front long elevation. In the case of Ballyhogan House by having the main entrance facing in the north easterly direction direct shelter was achieved and heat loss from the south west prevailing winds was minimised when using the entrance.

The above are just some examples of the extent and importance that was placed on getting the building to fit into the site. Now-a-days modern building insulation & air-tightness standards have allowed us to not require the same thought processes. But did we ‘throw out the baby with the bathwater’? Why are most modern dwellings in the countryside standing to attention and stoically facing the road – disregarding all views, shelter and passive solar gain opportunities. Ballyhogan House has its back side facing the road. It immediately makes you wonder did someone get something wrong here? But when applying the above listed criteria it becomes a perfect fit.

The proposed development of removing the deteriorating lean-to annexe and its replacement with an extension that creates a façade / formal elevation to its approach from the road marries modern and old thought processes. The extension is sympathetic and respect to the old farmhouse by copying its shape & proportions. Additionally it evokes interest in the old building to onlookers from the road by being off-set by 3m permitting a direct visual connection which was previously not achieved. It is my opinion that the new extension and refurbishment works to Ballyhogan House will greatly ameliorate the visual presence from the public road views, facilitate new life in the house and generate public interest in the above mentioned merits of how well Ballyhogan House is placed in the landscape.

Design Team

EPA upgrade – John Delaney of Geoenvironmental Consultants, Thurles www.geoenvironmental.ie

Structural Engineer – Hilliard Tanner of Tanner Structural Design Ltd, Fermoy, Co. Cork www.tsd.ie

Landscape Architect – Bernard Seymour of Bernard Seymour Landscape Architects www.bslarch.com

Mechanical Consulting Engineers – Overy & Associates, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary www.overy.ie

Link to public website:

Planning Permission received 2015 – Planning ref. no. 15600471 www.eplanning.ie

Currently on-hold