Gumuchdjian Architects


Think Tank for a private client, County Cork

Set on the banks of the River Ilen, near the town of Skibberreen in West Cork, the building was conceived as a cross between a thinker’s retreat and a bird-watcher’s hide. The architectural references are to both boat-houses and barns. The design resolves these references into a simple expression of roof, frame and screens, making it appear timeless, almost a ‘found’ object in a stunning landscape. The openness of the structure is tempered by cedar slatted screens which provide shade and contain the views. The judges described it as a sophisticated yet primitive hut. It very successfully fuses the tradition of vernacular building with sharp and precise detailing. The design process was an excellent collaborative effort between the local builder, with his knowledge of materials and weathering, the well-informed vision of the architect, the London-based specialist contractor and an unerring sense of simple decorum on the part of the client. The materials were selected to juxtapose ‘stable’ elements, such as glass and stainless steel, with materials that weather, like the cedar roof planks, slats and decking. There is a lot of constructional invention that would be appreciated by architectural theorists from Laugier to Rykwert. The low walls and the overhanging cedar roof provide physical and psychological shelter from the volatile weather with its sudden and dramatic storms, while the transparency of the glazed wall panels sets the occupier within this most beautiful river setting. The hybrid structure of timber encased steel piers and timber roof trusses and edge beams speaks of a close dialogue between engineer and architect in the struggle to create a simple, timeless object.


Gumuchdjian Architects
visit project site

Simon Conder Associates

Cottrell & Vermeulen Architects