Traditional Eco Housing Wins Ireland’s “Best Housing” Award
Cox Power Architects were the winners of the 2011 RIAI Awards for “Best Housing” for a small settlement: Kilmeena Village. The brief was to create a new community center and child care space and 14 new houses for the Mayo County Council.
Given the traditional setting in rural Ireland, and since future residents would be drawn from the surrounding countryside, an informal pattern of grouped farm buildings was chosen for the form of the new village.
Although each of the dwellings draws on traditional design, the style is also modern and has a purity of line that draws on the best of both styles. The materials chosen are traditional – slate roofs, stone, traditional damp-proofing using painted render, and concrete. The individual houses are identified by their numbers spelt out in traditional Gaelic names from áon, dó, trí and ceathar.
The community center in the background has been lowered slightly into the ground, which reduces its visual impact, preserving a village feeling. The sunken placement also helps moderate energy use within the building, as the earth moderates both cooling and warming felt outside.
The angles of the buildings create a sheltered town center feeling, suggestive of a village green, with cobblestones used to as a guard against unfriendly mud.
“A novel aspect of the finished project is the construction of a managed wetland using a Willow Plantation to provide tertiary treatment of effluent from the waste water treatment system” say the architects.
“This produces an exceptionally high quality of effluent treatment to protect the landscape, streams, shoreline and environment around the village. The willow crop is fertilised by the nutrients contained in the organic waste and is then managed and harvested for wood fuel bio-energy”.
House depths are narrow to allow living spaces to have sunlight on all sides. This is an important psychological factor in the very green and verdant isles of Ireland, which gets that way because of its very high rainfall.
There is a variety of house designs within the constant of one design aesthetic that draws on tradition. But each of the houses is slightly different, avoiding repetition.
Attics are functional rooms. Because many of the gables are slightly tilted in plan, a sense of physical security is fostered. Surveillance is improved by overlooking from windows in the gables of adjacent dwellings. A central gated communal garden grows community spirit as well.
Borrowing from the layout of traditional villages in the region, with a mixture of house types, sizes, tenures and design, the very high density created hearkens back to a very familiar layout, putting walkability at the center of the project – like a medieval village.
Because of this, Kilmeena Village is a germ of sustainable development to anchor future development, regardless of future growth around it.
Via Arch Daily