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Dirk Cove House

Niall McLaughlin Architects

The Atlantic coast of Ireland is buffeted by the, often stormy, weather coming from the ocean. The series of beacons along the rocky coast were once lifesavers for passing shipping. The former coastguard station at Dirk Cove on the wild coast of Clonakilty has been renovated, extended and turned into a private residence. Nestled in the lee of a headland, the house is sheltered from the brunt of often gale-force winds and tides. Architect Niall McLaughlin has renovated and transformed the original buildings. A central courtyard now links these to a new extension. At the top of the launch ramp, a low cottage with one-metre thick, rubble walls now houses the master bedroom and adjacent services. Backed up against the hillside, the former boathouse now form guest quarters, suitably apart from the rest of the house to afford privacy but not isolated. The new extension contains the living spaces. An open plan kitchen, dining room and living room follow on one from the other in sequential fashion. The new architecture is in clear contrast to the existing constructions. Its clean, sleek profile projects out towards the sea. One roof section is set at an oblique angle, underlining the building’s dynamic rapport with its natural setting. Wide glazed lights frame views out over the changing Atlantic scenery that becomes an integral part of life indoors and conversations around the fireplace. Similarly, the glazed walls of the cloister-like corridors internalise the outdoor landscape. The entrance, deliberately hidden and sheltered, gives no foretaste of how the interior layout will unfold into open spaces and corridors offering sweeping views of the horizon over the ocean. The asymmetrical central court is also linked to the sea via a staircase. Facing east-south-east, the new extension makes the most of the sunlight, a precious commodity in Ireland. This part of the house receives direct exposure until the sun sets behind the hill at the rear of the...

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