It’s a house fit for a king, an economically friendly king, and it’s just been crowned RTÉ’s Home of the Year.
The West Cork home of retired couple Ita Molloy and Andrew Harvey was designed to fit into the landscape and the split-level passive abode is completely eco-friendly. It has triple-glazed, floor-length windows that let in the sun’s rays and an interior concrete wall that essentially works as a giant storage heater, soaking up heat during the day and letting it out at night.
Andrew Harvey and Ita Molloy
The couple say they have little to no heating bills and only use a ground-source heat pump “in the depths of winter, if there’s snow”.
This ceiling-high bookcase dominates the main living area, and hides secret passageways to other rooms.
The Castletownbere site was previously home to a small cottage that Ita and Andrew would holiday in every year. For their retirement, the couple decided to build a house from scratch. The project was completed last year.
“It was especially nice because my son Donn [Ponnighaus] was the architect,” says Ita. “He not only designed the house but he project-managed the build and did a good bit of the labour himself as well. It took two years and a couple of months to finish the house.
“The whole house is environmentally friendly. Donn is really keen on environmental issues and reducing the carbon footprint. We got on board with that as well.”
Ita says they never expected the house to even get to the final, never mind win the competition, and can’t believe they’ve made it so far. “It was a bit of a shock to us because I really didn’t know what the other houses would be like,” she says.
However, it was the beauty of the house that really won the judges over. In the open- plan house, the rooms are spacious and cleverly laid out. A ceiling-high bookcase dominates the main living area, and hides secret passageways to other rooms.
“For something that’s so bold, it’s up there, it’s elevated, but it’s the perfect shape so whoever designed this has thought very carefully about what they were doing,” says architect and judge Declan O’Donnell.Fellow judges Hugh Wallace and Helen James also praised the house and the designer’s incredible attention to detail.
Debbie Thornton from Screentime Shinawil, producer of Home of the Year, was delighted to have worked with Ita and Andrew, and all the participants throughout the series.
“It was a real treat to have met so many fantastic yet humble homeowners,” she says. “None of them expected to win and some of them didn’t even think their homes were particularly special. But they were and through the show they’ve seen that and have a certain sense of accomplishment.
“Most of the programmes about property nowadays are about people doing up their house because they don’t like it, or are trying to sell their house, or are unhappy with their house for some reason. So these are people who love where they live and have, essentially, put their own stamp on their corner of the world.”
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