F + M House

The Concept:

Set like a gleaming, modernist jewel amid the traditional homes that overlook the historic town of Kinsale, the 350 square meter F+M House utilizes cutting-edge design, technology and materials to address the harsh realities of Irish coastal living while creating a light and airy indoor/outdoor living space with panoramic views across the harbour & out toward the Celtic Sea.

The Site:

Built on a steep hillside in Kinsale’s most exclusive neighbourhood, F+M House visually recedes into the hillside and creates a sense of privacy within the larger landscape.  A formal arrangement of white walls separate the landscaping elements from the dark grey rendered walls of the house.  Traditional rock walls, distinct to the area, separate house & street while large trees separate water & house and give the sense of living among the treetops.

First Impressions:

The entry courtyard and interior floor are large concrete platforms, linked via bridges.  An intimate, copper-clad entryway opens onto a long, timber joinery unit with hidden storage that guides the flow of space; kitchen and dining room to the right, living room to the left – both with panoramic harbor views.

The Interior:

The interior of the F+M House is defined by these joinery units.  Secondary spaces are hidden behind flush-mount pivot doors & tucked behind free standing units that are placed to focus attention on the spectacular views; James Fort off the study nook, a private courtyard off the kitchen, a view toward Kinsale from the living room.

Indoor / Outdoor Living:

The indoor/outdoor living aspect of the house is created via a covered courtyard that separates the kitchen /dining & living room, with all the spaces flowing onto the terrace running full length of the building.  This terrace, perched above the lower level, gives the illusion of the house being directly connected to the water.

The Family Level:

Behind the covered courtyard, a ‘floating’, under-lit timber stairway provides a sense of both luxury and privacy as you descend to the secondary living space.  Opening directly onto a grass ledge, the lower level features a family room that can be closed off via sliding partitions and five bedrooms, each with its own framed view of James Fort, Kinsale & the harbour entrance.

Light and Air:

Every habitable room in H+M House has a view and all are oriented facing the sun, with the utilitarian spaces built into the hill side, an arrangement that helps the MHRV system move air throughout the house.  In addition, all doors & windows open to assist natural ventilation in the summer months.

Running Costs:

Along with mechanical & passive ventilation the house is designed to maximise winter sun & cut out summer sun via the large overhang of the floating roof. Designed with Passiv House software, combined with high insulation levels, thermal mass & airtightness, the running costs of the H+M House, all inclusive, are very low.

A Few Words from Designer Craig Morrison:

There was already a traditional Irish home on this property when the owners came to me and said they wanted something new.  The house they had was tall, small and did nothing to take advantage of the fantastic site high above the harbor.

We spent a year, over dinners and glasses of wine, talking about everything they wanted in their new home, from the concept and how it would fit into the environment to the number of bedrooms and where to put the windows so they could have the best views of the setting sun and rising moon.  

We also explored the possibilities offered by the new designs, technologies and materials I work with.  Together we designed a new kind of home, one that blends the indoors with outdoors and lets them live comfortably in both.  We paid equal attention to the possibilities of the landscape, re-shaping the hillside to create new levels for gardens and patios.

H+M House was a labor of love for everyone involved and the proud owners moved into their new home in December 2017.

Design Quotes

“Less is more.” — Ludwig Miles van der Rohe

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you. ‘ —  Frank Lloyd Wright

“Disappearing space seems to me to be the most durable and endurable and life-giving quality in architecture.” — John Lautner

“In pure architecture the smallest detail should have a meaning or serve a purpose.” — Augustus W. N. Pugin

“People who build their own home tend to be very courageous. These people are curious about life. They’re thinking about what it means to live in a house, rather than just buying a commodity and making it work.” — – Tom Kundig

“Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.” — Frank Gehry

“Architecture is a learned game, correct and magnificent, of forms assembled in the light.” — Le Corbusier

“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“We shape our buildings, thereafter, they shape us.” — Winston Churchill

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you anywhere.” — – Albert Einstein