CONTEMPORARY DESIGN rooted in the local

high-function with a low impact on the site and locality.

house at parkswood

This house is a contemporary interpretation of the vernacular dwellings of this area of east Waterford. Adjoining Parkswood House and local farmhouses provide inspiration for our design. The scale and design of the house has been set to be appropriate to local tradition and setting.

The house is arranged in a vernacular clustered building form — which helps to reduce the overall scale of the house by the creation of a number of small elements. This cluster of buildings dictates circulation around the different elements of the building. It defines entrances to the site and to the buildings themselves.

The functions of the house are defined by the breaking down of the house into its different elements, i.e.

  • the creation of a small garage utility block to the rear
  • the creation of a vernacular long house containing the sleeping and living accommodation for the house
  • and allowance for the future creation of a contemporary summer living block as the family grows.
House at Parkswood

The clustered form of the new house creates protected spaces between the different elements of the building and provides protection from the prevailing winds and the northerly winds of the inclement Irish weather.

House at Parkswood designed by Diarmuid Reil Architect
House at Parkswood - evening

Design principles

The building forms are informed and defined by the orientation of the site. The utility block is placed to the most north-easterly part of the site, as this is a non-habitable space and requires the minimum of heating and solar gain. As such, the use of this low amenity end of the site is ideal for such a function. The long house follows on this principle with glazing kept to a minimum on the north-east & north elevation to minimise heat loss through this cold elevation.

As the building turns to face from south-east to the west, the elevation begins to open to allow for the maximum utilisation of natural light and solar heat gains and follows the daily passage of the sun and also allows the occupants of the house to enjoy the surrounding views. The same considerations are taken on board in the design of the house from the perspective of shelter from the northerly winds and the prevailing winds. This is created by the orientation of the utility block to the north-east corner of the site and also the creation of natural tree shelters in this area. To counteract prevailing winds, to the south-west of the site, is the creation of a wind break with both the planting of native tree species, the reinforcement of existing hedgerow and also the creation of a planted berm to help form shelter from the prevailing winds.

Minimal impact

The sustainability approach to the house can best be described as minimal impact. The buildings are small forms which can be built using either renewable or traditional local building methods. The scale of the buildings and the spans of the structure and technology involved, are what would be typical of this area and of the history of vernacular building in Ireland. As such, no building systems solution is required for this building and it can be built using both local skills and materials wherever possible. The building orientation allows for minimal heat loss through the building and also maximise passive solar gain. This is to enhanced by the use of high levels of thermal insulation, well in excess of the current building regulations, to minimise the heating requirements of the building and by the use of high performance glazing and door systems throughout. The heating requirements of the building are provided by use of a ground source heat pump.


The material pallet which has been selected for the new house consist of materials which are the vernacular materials for this area including: nap/lime plaster render finish; the use of natural slates to roof surfaces; the use of sandstone walls to the garden walls of the house; and the use of timber to the joinery elements of the house, which would have been used typically on these old farmhouses. 

Interior design of House at Parkswood
Plans of sustainable home design at Parkswood Waterford

“Every home or work space is different. The appropriate design is discovered through understanding the site, the views, aspect to the sun through the day — and the client’s particular needs & lifestyle”

Diarmuid Reil | Architect

Diarmuid Reil MRIAI RIBA is a Registered Architect