We were recommended to the owners of a coastal site in Groomsport, County Down with fantastic views over Cove Bay and Belfast Lough. The Client had originally bought the site with outline planning permission for a 760ft2 house with many onerous conditions and restrictions imposed, however having consulted with 9yards for a preliminary feasibility study we progressed to full planning with a much bolder, technically advanced design to provide the stunning family home which the site deserved
The site was set on the Cliffside sweeping down to the sea and therefore had a very steep gradient. It was accessed from an area with a very predominant character of old holiday chalets from the 1950's and this was a feature that Planning Service were very keen to retain. The site was also L-shaped, with the narrow leg at the higher, access, level. Unparalleled views were achievable but the challenge was to fit a large modern home onto this site whilst retaining the area's established
chalet-style character from the approach road.
The Design Process
As site levels were not only a big issue in terms of gradient but also a great opportunity in terms of views and architectural potential our first task was to produce a site plan with accurate levels and corresponding cross-sections. From this we established that the site was indeed large enough to accommodate a larger house but only if this could be set into the cliff side with the majority of accommodation 'underground'. Working in partnership with Civil and Structural Engineers we established the physical limits available for the house structure in relation to retaining walls, drainage runs, etc and the challenge then became one of achieving the maximum natural light into lower rooms.
Working within the physical parameters set by the site's characteristics we discussed the Client's aspirations in more detail and ascertained that 'upside-down' living would best suit their needs. This enabled us to progress with a design featuring a large lounge – dining - kitchen area on the entrance storey, with vaulted ceiling, fully glazed elevation and corner windows taking in the uninterrupted sea views and leading directly onto an extensive patio formed in part by the roof of the accommodation below.
Stairs to the lower level give access to the sleeping area and also to the lower garden, which can also be accessed by external steps sweeping down from the side garden.
This lower level in itself has a further 'split-level' aspect as, following the site contours, the Master Bedroom is afforded extra privacy and stunning views by being located down a further short flight of steps.
All three bedroom suites feature uninterrupted panoramic views, en-suite shower-rooms and walk-in wardrobes giving a level of luxury that is unsurpassed for a house of this size.
An additional family bathroom, utility room and large store complete this level, all positioned to reserve maximum natural lighting potential for living areas.
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