Field of Dreams: One of Ireland's most unique dwellings on the market for €700k
Dreamfield is one of Ireland's most unique dwellings
When Michael and Heather Rice imagined their dream home for a site at Deerpark outside Mountrath in Co Laois, they threw away all the rule books except one - Mother Nature's.
The Rices dreamed up a five storey over basement home with nine bedrooms (egg- shaped rooms for the children), an all-seeing viewing tower with an office at the top, a vast undulating waved roofline, veneered domes and cathedral-like ceilings that suggest the inside of a giant nautilus shell.
The house stands at 10,000 sq ft with enough room to house the floor space of almost 10 standard city homes inside it.
Michael Rice is both an architect and an instructor in sacred geometry, who travels the world designing buildings that follow its principles - largely community and holistic centres.
Sacred geometry practitioners hold that nature itself is the best designer - with millions of years of evolution on its side. Nature makes its forms using curves rather than the squares, right angles and linear forms so favoured by modern architects. Central to the philosophy of sacred geometry and that of natural creation is the mathematical ratio of 1:1.618 or 'phi'.
Michael demonstrates using his arm: "Extend your arm and hand out in front of you and take a good look at it. The ratio of the size of your knuckle to the length of your finger, and the ratio of the length of your hand to that of your arm is the exact same. It's a ratio of 1 to 1.618."
The so-called "golden ratio" applies to the make up of petals on flowers, the wings on birds, the spirals of sea shells and the swirls of hurricanes.
Ancient builders knew all about it and medieval churches, mosques, tabernacles and Egyptian temples were also built based on this proportional ratio.
So when Michael and his wife Heather bought an 11 acre site at Deerpark near Mountrath, it was clear from the off that a 'regular' home was not for them. The resulting property which emerged circa 2010, after five years of construction, has hints of the Moorish and Gothic about it.
However, the couple separated amicably some time ago and Michael has gone on to teach in Europe while Heather, a photographer, wants to trade down in Ireland. The property has been put on the market for €700,000 - around €500,000 less than the €1.2m Heather estimates was put into it.
"While this house may seem very unusual, remember it was designed as a family home and workplace for life and also as an international architectural school which would be housing guests," says Heather. "So the ideal buyer for it will be someone who wants a home and space for guests."
The house is built of standard timber frame based components which are in widespread use in countries like Canada. While construction ceased some years ago, some aspects of the property remain to be finished.
Completion includes finish items which could cost as little as €30,000 or as much as €100,000 depending on the specification.
The property needs a kitchen and a main bathroom, ramp steps are required to lead up to a first floor office, the geo thermal heating system needs a heat exchange unit to make it operational and, while the house is wired for solar heating, the roof panels have yet to be installed.
There are two operational heat recovery systems installed and the owners estimate that completion would bring the well-insulated home's BER to a high B1 rating.
Accommodation includes a large basement currently unused, a "shamanic" space reception area, a dining area, a living area, an entrance hall, studios, a library, a main reception room, an office, guest rooms, kitchen, pantry, a "green room" and nine bedrooms, many of which are en-suite.
The house is five miles from Mountrath and roughly an hour's drive from Dublin.
"We called it Dreamfield because it was a field for our dream when we found it. Now it's waiting to be someone else's dream," says Heather.
Deerpark, Mountrath, Co Laois
Asking price: €700,000
Agent: DNG Kelly, (057)8623880