Featured in – The Irish Times & The Irish Independent February 2016 and on the cover of – Mein Zieglehaus

View Island Dwelling photos by Philip Lauterbach on www.plpix.com.


For this Island Dwelling on the Aran Islands, Co. Galway, we developed the designs from the simplicity of the landscape; working with the given contours, solar orientation and making reference to traditional design. The living area located on the upper level allows spectacular views of the Cliffs of Moher. It is connected to a terrace which is so orientated as to create a sun-trap and catch the sun from late morning until the last of the evening sun rays are obscured by the above lying escarpment. The views from the road are shielded by part of the house, creating the private and sheltered outdoor space. Fortunately the escarpment acts as a wind break for the prevailing westerly winds ensuring great use of this outdoor terrace in most weather conditions.

Sustainability in Design – Working With the Land!

This design follows the contours of the land and at the same time creates an elevation from the north which is typical of rural traditional design. The house is located towards the north end of the site to place the maximum area of garden on the south side of the house which is also the direction of the finest views. The main entrance to the house is on the lower level with the two double bedrooms. A staircase, following the slope of the hill, leads upwards to the living level containing an open-plan kitchen, dining and lounge area and third bedroom / study.
Behind the main house of 104 square meters, accessed via the stairs landing, is a studio space of 30sqm with its own bathroom and private outdoor terrace. In the garden some stone walls have been relocated. This allows two fields to be closed off and used for agricultural purposes such animal grazing, while the land surrounding the house can be used for domestic and ornamental gardening purposes. The car parking is placed to the north end of the site as not to intrude on the setting of the house in this beautiful landscape.

Sustainability in Materials

The dwelling is constructed with special honeycomb structure clay masonry building blocks – Poroton. Clay is naturally a very good material at regulating humidity, absorbing and releasing moisture readily. The clay blocks work by being ‘breathable’, i.e. being able to transfer moisture from inside to outside, thus eliminating the need for the cavity used in ubiquitous concrete block walls. Whilst being an ecologically sustainable product it provide excellent thermal and sound insulation, thermal mass heat store, breathable healthy living environments, long-lasting airtightness and fast construction. Given the high moisture content of the Island environment this product is ideal.


This project has been featured in a number of publications. A few are featured on this site:

Mein Ziegelhaus 2015 – Wall Building Material for a Rough Island Climate

European Journal of Masonry – Mauerwerk June 2016

Irish Independent – Stunning Galway home commended at International Architecture fair

A New Generation of Irish Architecture