Peek Inside TV presenter Laura Woods' Dublin home designed by her architect husband
As far as architects around the world are concerned, the Venice Architecture Biennale is widely regarded as the single most important design event on the planet. It's where the globe's leading designers, architects and influencers gather each year to showcase their work.
This year all eyes will be on Ireland when the 16th exhibition kicks off in Venice in May.
In celebration of Irish architecture in the run-up to the Biennale, Independent Property presents a special edition where we look inside our architects' own homes. We present seven houses Irish architects have designed (and in some cases built) for themselves, from a multi-level super mews to a reimagined 8,000sq ft former Georgian bank, to a semi-subterranean eco house. Between them they represent a smorgasbord of what's on offer in homegrown talent and design for any one of us with a budget for a dream home.
House in the woods, Foxrock, Dublin, By Mark Arigho
Dublin architects Arigho Larmour Wheeler describe themselves as a design-led and client-focused cross-border practice that designs and delivers 'well-crafted buildings with a strong connection to their context and particular consideration of issues of sustainability, heritage and material'.
When founding member Mark Arigho created 'House in the Woods' as a home for himself and his wife, TV presenter Laura Woods, and sons Ben and Alex, it was a chance for him to practise what he preaches to its fullest expression.
The Arts and Crafts-inspired 'tree house' built in his in-laws' overgrown garden in Foxrock, Dublin sits one metre off the ground on mini piles, nestled snugly in among mature towering Scots pines, sycamores and cypresses.
"The design is very much dictated by its sylvan setting and immediate neighbour but also the wider context of the Architectural Conservation Area," says Arigho.
"Usually development plans are all about the streetscape; in Foxrock it's about the landscape," adds Arigho, who had to consult with an arborist and design the house's foundations before going to planning with his ideas.
"It was definitely the biggest challenge of the project but it has also brought the biggest benefits."
The role nature plays in the design of the build is evident both inside and outside. It's a house that actively engages and interacts with its setting. Thoughtfully placed windows offer views of the landscape while others open out to within almost touching distance of the trees. A stoop provides a contemplative spot where the family can take in their surroundings.
"It's purposefully not overly complicated or unnecessarily huge either," says Arigho of the 1,991 sq ft home that manages to squeeze in four bedrooms on the upper floor, which has a smaller footprint than the ground level, and an open-plan kitchen/dining room, living room, play room and separate reception below.
The exterior takes its cue from the Arts and Crafts heritage of the neighbourhood without being a pastiche. It's constructed in concrete soap-bar blocks finished with a skim of plaster and white paint and topped with terracotta tiles. "I got the builder to purposefully knock the blocks out of sync to help soften the overall mass," he says. At first floor level, painted vertical timber cladding around the openings further breaks up the massing.
It's every architect's dream to design their own home and Arigho feels he's a better architect for having done it. "It's definitely given me more confidence in my ideas because I know first-hand that they actually work and have a better understanding of clients' needs," he says.
"Good architecture is all about enriching people's lives. I'm very lucky to live in a house that I designed myself."