Saltpans Cottage | Rathmullan, Ireland | 2022
[Pasparakis Friel]
Photography by: Peter Molloy 

Set on the edge of one of Ireland’s three glacial fjords this mystical twelve acre site contains several ruins. Wallsteads and faint remnants of formal landscaped gardens peak through an otherwise wild setting. The land has been in the Delap family for over 300 years. The site was a centre of salt production during the eighteenth century. The project realises the family’s desire and dream to reoccupy the site again after having been unable to for almost 40 years.

A twenty metre long and three metre high wallstead partially hides the living quarters from the road. The only break in this wall is a small, curious door leading into the yard. The ruins of an eighteenth century saltworker’s cottage formed the southern edge to the yard. Only the stone walls of the cottage remained.

Great pride was taken in the construction of these walls over 300 years ago. The lime render which would have once caked these walls has long since washed away. Finely built walls have been exposed. Solid cornerstones have ensured their longevity. Covering these walls with a new render would have hidden the craftsmanship and robbed the walls of their warm, natural tones and textures. Joints are now patched with natural lime mortar, whilst internally the stone walls have been lined with corkboard insulation and lime render. Floors have been reconstructed using foam glass insulation and limecrete slabs. By choosing not to render the cottage externally it remains materially and tonally part of the suite of wallsteads and ruins that are scattered throughout the site. The existing configuration of the cottage has been reinstated; a living space, a bedroom, and a small loft overlooking the living space.

A Quiet Intervention
In order to be subservient to the eighteenth century cottage form, the new single storey extension occupies a gap space between the cottage and within the adjacent wallsteads. The roof plane of the extension is expressed as a thin green line resting atop the existing stone walls. The arrangement of this new element within the wallstead has formed a small courtyard into which a new bedroom and bathroom look.

Tonal Coherence
The new interventions preserve and celebrate the discreet and bucolic character of the existing structures and setting.  The tones, materials, and textures employed do so too. All new interventions are Fern Green; a singular colour which tonally ties all the elements together in a calm, cohesive whole and one which references the wild and vivid context of this rural, coastal setting.

Curating the Light
Inch thick, triple glazed, floor to ceiling glazing  form the walls of the cooking and dining area. Light filters through this space all day. In contrast the stone walls of the existing cottage are two foot thick. Light penetrates into these spaces in an equally dramatic, but different manner by means of the small, existing apertures in the walls and a series of carefully placed new rooflights.

Place for Reflection
The kitchen table occupies a key position on the site. A seat at it offers a visual history of time and communicates the story of this site; the old cottage, relics of the saltwork production, 300 year old oak trees, and the Lough. The three varied modes of openness of the adjacent half doors add drama to the space. In fully open mode the boundaries between inside and outside blur. Text description by the architects | Visit to read more about the project.

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