Green team scoops top architectural awards

Green was the colour this week as a talented team of architects scooped enviable prizes for energy efficiency and innovation. 

It’s proving to be just a short stroll from the drawing board to the red carpet for the professionals in question, Simply Architecture, Cork — not only did Simply Architecture scoop the coveted overall prize and Designer of the Year title at the 2019 Isover awards last Thursday but the following day it won the Future Award at the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) Irish Architecture Awards presented in the Mansion House, Dublin.

The announcement of the Isover winners comes as the urgency for addressing climate and environmental change reaches unprecedented levels.

These awards recognise the most energy-efficient building projects across Ireland. Simply Architecture won the top prize for its one-off residential property, Steep Wedge House, The Fairways, in Douglas, Co Cork. A new-build project, the family home was unveiled as the winner at the Isover awards ceremony at the Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin. The judges were impressed by the sustainability and design of what they described as “a stunning residential property that achieves the passive house standard”. “The design responds ingeniously to an extremely challenging suburban site to prove that world-class energy performance can be achieved with show-stopping aesthetics, utilising low embodied energy materials,” they added.

Simply Architecture was set up in Cork by Gareth Sullivan in 2009 and he is joined in the practice by architects Ailbhe Cunningham and Andrew Kirwan and office manager Barbara Sullivan.

The project team found a steeply sloping site, previously a builder’s yard, traversed by three way-leaves. “It looked implausible; three way-leaves ensured only a small wedge in the corner of the site could be developed and the steep slope made access difficult,” said Gareth.

Creative curve

Planning restrictions on the ridge height and south-facing windows to prevent overlooking ensured the house design was “a response to a variety of obstacles”, noted the architects. “Given the unusual shape and the steep slope, aesthetics, orientation and access all became issues that needed to be carefully considered,” said Gareth. “Additionally the house achieved full passive house certification. The compact building form ensured the slope could be negotiated quite efficiently, and south-facing, high-level windows provide sufficient solar gain while avoiding any overlooking issues.”

No stranger to the limelight, Steep Wedge House was featured by Irish Examiner property editor Tommy Barker as the cover story in the recent Irish Examiner ‘Home’ magazine.

Another Cork company scooped the award for Excellence in Commercial Renovation, with that gong going to The Passivhaus Architecture Company for St Joseph’s Woollen Mills, Co Cork, while the prize for Excellence in Commercial New Build went to Ceiling and Allied Ltd for the Maldron Hotel, Cork.

Casting his spell

Known as the “wood magician”, West Cork furniture designer Joseph Walsh is expected to conjure up huge excitement at a prestigious exhibition in Spain from next week. Irish design and craftsmanship will be celebrated at a stand-alone showcase in Barcelona with 24 Irish craftspeople and designers displaying their work to coincide with Barcelona Design Week (June 12-20).

Joseph is self-taught and made huge leaps in the international design scene in London, New York and Milan. Entitled Surface Matters, the exhibition is presented by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland and features new work from the 24 makers selected by an independent jury.

Surface Matters takes place at the Centre D’Artesania Catalunya following a successful run at the OPW’s Coach House Gallery, Dublin Castle, earlier this year.

Curated by Liz Cooper, the exhibition runs in Barcelona until July 21. It will then return to Ireland and show at the National Design & Craft Gallery in Kilkenny from November 2019 to February 2020.

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