Design comes out of the box in West Cork home

There are both stark and Starck reminders, of very different times, at this one-off West Cork home on the verdant banks of the Argideen River.

Design comes out of the box in West Cork home

An infamous eviction took place here in 1886, at Castleview Mills near Clonakilty, when the Hurley family unsuccessfully resisted being moved off their land in a still-recalled act of brutal house repossession.

In the event, the Hurleys’ neighbours, as an act of decency, built them a timber cabin in a nearby field, by a river crossing. Fast-forward almost 130 years and, by sheer coincidence, or some sort of serendipity, the very same field now houses a contemporary twist on the wood cabin.

Now, there’s a top-notch quality home entirely built of wood and modelled on a home conceived by one of the 21st century’s ablest designers, 65-year old Frenchman Philippe Starck. The lot, including 3,000 sq ft cosy home, work studio, garage, sheds, organic gardens, pond, and river frontage, is for sale for €595,000, for its down-sizing owner.

Bucolic Castleview is a few miles on the Cork side of Clonakilty, home to the stumpy remains of an old castle, as well as a 19th century mill complex, now housing a funky forge and creative ironworks called Mojo. It’s across the river Argideen from the famous Lisselane Estate and golf course, about 5km from Clonakilty, and about the same from Timoleague, where the river gets to greet the tides coming up from Courtmacsherry.

Mojo aside, Castleview must be a creative spot, as the house now up for sale was built and lived in for the past 15 years by a top commercial photographer, Andrew Bradley, who’s now about to downsize with an emptying nest and lots of work travel commitments.

Design-savvy Bradley had been inspired by images he came across by Philippe Starck, who’s designed hotels, furniture, kitchenware, houses, bikes, boats, and toothbrushes, among a vast repertoire. Starck spent some time in Japan, and that may have given him the outline for a modest, pagoda-ish two-storey timber dwelling, with verandas and pop-up upstairs rooms.

Back in 1994, Starck had made several hundred copies of what he called ‘3 Suisse; House in a Box’, with scaled 1:50 drawings available in a specially designed presentation case, complete with instruction video, a French flag for topping out ceremony, and a hammer to use along the way.

In the late 1990s, Bradley went in pursuit of one set of the so-called House in a Box to build out on his two-acre West Cork plot. Starck’s original design was for a house with just two bedrooms upstairs; he knew he needed more, so he contacted John Desmond of Cork-based Cygnum, specialist timber framers now also working in the UK, for advice.

Between them, they came up with a modified, and easier to build, design — now seen here, on a matured site, and what’s more, it’s up for the taking. Estate agent Martin Kelleher in Clonakilty has the sales instruction, he also loves the package, and is looking forward to who he’s going to meet on viewings, having given a few sneak previews over Christmas.

Mr Kelleher reckons that the property is different enough — and sweet enough by its river setting — to attract an international buyer or a relocator who mightn’t even know what they want....until they see this.

If you are a sufficiently romantic frame of mind, the shallow ford river crossing (occasionally used by farmers in tractors to get to fields on different sides of the Argideen) could put you in mind of painter John Constable’s classic ‘The Hay Wain’, and there’s also the slenderest of pedestrian bridges over the river for entirely dry crossings on foot.

The price, at €595,000, is at the upper price echelons for Clonakilty right now, and it’s got a river aspect instead of a seaside setting — but it is a retreat. And, the price does pale a bit in comparison to that attached to its riverside neighbour, the chateau-esque Lisselane Estate.

Lisselane came for sale on more than 300 acres in summer, now guiding at €6.9m via Sherry FitzGerald in Clonakilty and Dublin, but the price has since been sharply dropped to €2.9m if a buyer just wants the house and garden on 58 acres. So Castleview is a snip, all things considered.

In an enthusiastic introduction, Mr Kelleher says: “Throwing off the shackles of mediocrity, this postcard pretty property offers incredible lifestyle value, privately located and occupying a unique, beautiful riverside setting, on two acres.”

The property was briefly up for sale around 2000, featuring in these pages when its grounds were far more bare, but the Bradleys remained in situ, and since have added a studio and car-port linked garage, whilst planting extensively and sensitively.

Apart from gracing the Irish Examiner’s pages back then, it also made RTÉ’s House Hunters at that time, along with a slew of interior, construction and design magazines.

Now, 15 years older, it’s looking as good as new, or even better in many ways, and its timber cladding has all weathered down in many shades of greys and silvers.

The main house is finished externally in Douglas fir, and the separate, stand-alone quality 600 sq ft studio (also built by Cygnum) is faced in Canadian Redwood, with 70-year frame guarantees, notes the selling agent.

The main house is sort of a square within a square, being cocooned within a larger veranda overhang which goes around all four sides, while its upstairs four bedrooms and bathrooms poke up from the main walls beneath.

At ground level, it’s all quite open plan, with main rooms or living spaces spiralling off a central, curved staircase, with open-tread olive wood steps, and build and joinery levels seem uniformly

Clonakilty, West Cork €595,000 284 sq m Bedrooms: 4 Bathrooms: 3 BER: C1 Best feature: Unique mix

VERDICT: A visual treat by knowing eyes

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