Architect-designed garden rooms
According to Marcus Donaghy of Donaghy + Dimond Architects - recently awarded the 2016 AAI Downes medal for excellence in architectural design - the advantage an architect-designed garden room is that it is made to measure your garden's shape, size and look. "This is obviously reflected in cost, which will be dependent on size, spec, location and accessibility for builders."
The owners of a Ranelagh Victorian house asked Donaghy + Dimond to design a separate garden room, pictured left, that would give a sense of connection between the house and garden. The remains of the old garage walls were wrapped in glazed brick and a loft was created out of breathable hemp- insulated timber, with framed walls clad in sweet chestnut, supporting a planted roof and hanging gardens.
In the ground floor level, there's a roof-lit shower room that can be accessed from the garden; a plant room with ground source heat pump and log store; and a car space which can also fit a table tennis table.
Above the garage, at the level of the canopy of the old apple tree, is the timber-framed loft. It's lined with douglas fir plywood. "This was designed as a den or tree house, with a covered open air stairs rising directly from the garden," says Marcus Donaghy. "The loft is fitted out with a built-in settle bed for kids to camp out on," he says.
"The garden room or loft-over-garage meant we didn't over-extend the original protected structure," Donaghy says. Owners Susan and David say it's been enjoyed by their twin boys who will shortly be 22. "They used it for band practice, which was great for us - we didn't have to listen to it directly," Susan laughs. "One of them is currently in college in Dublin, ensconced in it while he studies," she says.
"It's an extra space that functions as part of the house, but is separate and offers privacy. Because the living area which is on the middle floor, is open-plan style, and there are five of us, having this separate space was great. It's a super place for teenagers to escape to without being out of sight," says Susan.
"We also have an 11-year-old daughter who is waiting to reclaim it as a den and when the children have all left, we plan to use it as an office. It's very adaptable."