These two houses are for a brother and sister, and their respective families, and are located in a very large field, part of an expansive landscape of tillage in Co. Meath. As such, the given context is a gently rolling, although mostly flat, panorama of barley or wheat fields, bordered by mature hedgerows of hawthorn, oak and sally.
The houses are conceived of as merging with this landscape, seeking cover in their form and section, almost like two giant crows resting at harvest, their wings spread. By digging down half a level into the earth, the houses appear low from the approach. The excavation creates sunken garden spaces close in to the houses, and the resulting earth is used to form embankments around these which further reduce the impression of the height of the buildings.
The structures themselves are made in timber, as are the external retaining walls, so that both house and site are considered as a homogenous whole – like a woven basket acting as the base of the excavation and the roof of the house acting as its lid. The roof covering is grass and the external cladding untreated timber, meaning that in time the building will recede totally into its setting.
Within the immediate enclosures of the houses, mediating between gardens and interiors, are double-height glazed walls facing south, which produce significant passive solar gain. Due to the spaciousness of the sites, the opportunity is there to employ sustainable solutions to energy sources such as solar panels, a shared windmill, and a shared water tower – while the timber frame construction allows a very high level of thermal insulation. These houses are imagined as a template for sustainable development in exposed rural sites.