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Gleneagles House by Hall McKnight

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5 houses by 5 practices: Gleneagles House by Hall McKnight.

Overlooking the Queen’s Course at Gleneagles, the project is sited within a constructed landscape of golf course and housing development.

Despite views of distant mountains and the generous presence of mature trees within and around the site, the context of development plots (for large single houses) and golf course is man-made. For us, this lack of natural context is a challenge; the site cannot be viewed as either genuinely rural nor, despite its pattern of individual sites for large houses, can it be understood as suburban. The development of the neighbouring sites has proceeded without similarity of approach; each house defines its own reference points to ‘traditional’ house forms.

The design development of this project coincided with our competition entry for Meath County Council civic centre - a project where we were also dealing with the challenges of an ambiguous territory, on that occasion on the edge of a county town. Our response was to develop the conceptual idea of the large building as a hilltown; the building creates its own townscape as a series of forms and internal and external spaces. This project at Gleneagles has developed in a similar way. The house can be read as a distinct dark brick base, which relates closely to the gardens; this base expresses density and material richness, while maintaining controlled visual permeability. Above this restrained base is a more expressive cluster of forms which present an artificial topography or profile redolent of the nearby mountains. The project allows these elements expressing ground and hills to coalesce - with the expressive upper level becoming the dominant image of the project.

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Gleneagles House by Hall McKnight. Photography by Dave Morris

While the main living spaces (at first-floor level) are arranged in an open-plan manner, each is articulated through the angular geometry as a more variable sequence of spaces - each space taking on its own specific qualities of daylighting, ceiling height and view.

The ground floor, characterised with darker finishes, houses four bedrooms, some utility spaces, and a big circulation and living space with generous views out over the private garden.

The character of the upper level is lighter and loftier, addressing the views out over the golf course to the distant mountains. The eroded form of the upper block is smaller in area than the base, thereby creating a series of external terraces.

Alastair Hall, partner, Hall McKnight

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