Stony grey walls of Galway capture hearts and minds of public

Field, Stonewall, House by Taylor Carney Architects stars at Irish Architecture Awards

Field, Stonewall, House, by Taylor McCarney Architects

Field, Stonewall, House, by Taylor McCarney Architects

 

Field, Stonewall, House by Castlebar-based Taylor McCarney Architects is the winner of the Public Choice Award at this year’s RIAI Irish Architecture Awards.

While the awards cover every element of what the profession calls the built environment, a stiff term that covers all construction from hospitals and healthcare, to schools, hospitality, office buildings, churches, and restoration jobs, it is the house category that really resonates with ordinary architecture fanciers. The winning design appears to rise up from the stony grey walls of Co Galway, part cairn, part farmland boundary, a brave use of a common material that helps the house inhabit its landscape.

The stones are everywhere. They had to be back-breakingly removed by hand from the surrounding fields to make them arable, the rocks then laid out in a maze of low walls that box in this part of Co Galway. It pays a gentle homage to that era of hardship and yet is completely modern. For atop the stonework is a Corten steel-clad storey where the owners can watch the weather rolling in.

Field, Stonewall, House, by Taylor McCarney Architects
Field, Stonewall, House, by Taylor McCarney Architects

Principal architect Eamon McCarney explains that the house “has been sculpted into the landscape to give shelter and frame views” – not an easy task, for in this part of the country the direction of the wind and that of the views is often the same. This also means that each exterior Corten facade will weather differently adding to its unique look.

The home is only the second ever to have won this coveted award.

For voters, its win is about living the dream, of escaping the rat race, getting out of the city and into the countryside in search of more space and relative affordability.

This desire, made all the more important as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions, also demonstrates that the self-build dream – another integral part of the Irish psyche, remains alive and well within us.

It seems that the idea of creating something exactly to your liking, that no one else has ever inhabited, the chance to make your mark in the landscape, really resonated with this year’s voters.

The winning house and the rest of the shortlisted designs can be seen on riai.ie; taylormccarneyarchitects.ie

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