Page 25 - Rural Housing Association Design Guide
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Design guide for social housing in rural Northern Ireland Considering the place: Rural Northern Ireland The Irish countryside before the Great Famine included numerous informal clusters of houses and outbuildings known as “clachans”. A small number survive. They integrated harmoniously with their surroundings and formed highly distinctive, pleasant and intimate places. Some have been converted into holiday villages (such as Hanna’s Close, Kilkeel, Co.Down). Often the smaller houses were converted into agricultural outhouses. There are also numerous remains to be seen in upland and coastal areas. Sometimes they are clustered in a dip in the landscape, to protect from Atlantic winds, elsewhere they stretch, what appears to be, haphazardly along main roads. External spaces immediately around the buildings were often communal and shared, sometimes using low level bound- ary treatments such as planting beds, hedges, post and wire fences and a network of stone walls to enclose some private spaces and link buildings together. Traditionally one or two of the site’s boundaries were planted with indigenous tree and hedge species, often on the northern and north western boundaries to provide shelter. Other boundaries were left relatively open and walls, hedging or fencing at these boundaries were kept at a low level. Buildings and landscape define Building forms are varied, however the layout is the path of roadways. unified by limited palette of materials with finishes primarily white washed render, stone and slate. A range of defined and unde- fined spaces around buildings. Landscaping and planting un-manicured and robust. Stone walls linking buildings. The common traits of Ulster “clachans” as seen at Kearney on the Ards Peninsula, Co.Down. Coolanlough, Co.Antrim. A good example of the “clachan”, illustrating all its attributes, pleasantly sited within the Moyle landscape. This is a world away from the repetitive “boxes” of much recent rural housing. 24 25
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