The expanding University of Limerick campus has extended across the river Shannon from Co. Limerick to Co. Clare but more importantly from the occupation of the more formal estate of Plassey House to the occupation of what was agricultural farmland with field patterns and hedgerows.
The Classical Plassey House is known as the 'White House' and so we chose to make a second 'white house' which was to be occupied by the University President. Given it's setting in the more agrarian landscape, this new house situates itself within the continuity of the Irish vernacular tradition. In our minds were buildings ranging from the austere tower house to what historian Maurice Craig calls 'Modest Irish houses of the Middle Size'.
This tradition is as much to do with small construction details as it is to do with the atmosphere created by the way these houses sit alone in the space of the landscape with subtle sometimes invisible means of establishing the territories around them.
Traditional landscape techniques are used in the forming of a setting for the house and the form is modulated in order to give a distinct vertical emphasis to the building with a castellated roof profile and prominent chimney.
The two houses will have a complementary role in that Plassey House provides a formal reception area while the President's House will provide a more domestic and personalised setting.
The formal rooms of the house occupy three levels facing south. The more private informal rooms and bedrooms are stacked to form a protective wall to the north. Two staircases allow for two parallel worlds to co-exist; that of the private family life and the more formal public role for which the house has to cater. This adds to the intrigue and richness of the house, in the manner of many traditional Irish houses where private or service routes were kept separate from the formal world of the house.
External finishes are lime render with white Wexford sand, limestone window cills, iroko doors and windows and natural slate finish to the roof. Internal finishes are nap and smooth plaster walls, limestone and limed oak floors and stairs, exposed concrete or t&g painted timber boards to ceilings.
Photos: Alice Clancy