Premier Construction   Richard Trainor and Richie Lavery

Grillagh Water House

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Grillagh Water House

credit: Richard Trainor and Richie Lavery

Architect Patrick Bradley developed Grillagh Water House on his farm near the town of Maghera, Northern Ireland, taking advantage of local legislation that allows farmers to build dwellings on their land.

The house, which is made from four shipping containers, was completed in September 2014 after Patrick decided to take it upon himself to complete the project.

Speaking to Premier Construction Magazine, he said: “It was completed in September 2014 using all local contractors and the house was designed by myself and was built for use by myself as an architect and a farmer. It is a very modest house which is a perfect use of space instead of going large. It is also something that is architecturally different.”

Patrick originally designed the house using conventional construction methods but he soon realised that he needed to reduce the cost to meet his budget, so he came up with the idea of using shipping containers.

He commented: “As an architect when I looked at the design and the cost of the project it was out of my budget, so I did a lot of research and looked at the possibility of using containers. In the UK and Mainland, it has never been done to the standard and quality that I have done it, so I just thought why not. The cost to build everything made the project more viable.”

The ground floor of the house holds a utility room, bathroom and two bedrooms, one with an en-suite shower. The guest bedroom looks out over a water filled pond with the main bedroom, even though on the ground floor, also cantilevered over land. The site is adjacent to a stream and has been sculpted by Patrick with stone cut from a buff to form the context of the multiple cantilevers. Basalt Stone forms all of the boundary walls of the landscape setting with the envelope of the house composed of corten steel, expanded mesh rain screen and glass.

Patrick said: “I tried to design a house that was going to educate people rather than just being the type of house that many people seem to copy and paste nowadays. It is nice to live in a house that is much more pleasing and good design makes happy people, so in a way, it was kind of used as an experiment as well.”

credit: Richard Trainor and Richie Lavery

The main contractors on the project were Thornton Roofing, who Patrick says were an “absolute delight” to work with.

He added: “I went to a few contractors prior to the build and nine out of 10 of them just laughed at me and said I was crazy but Thornton Roofing, and Stephen Thornton, the Director, took it all on board. Everything worked out and it was completed in nine weeks which is an incredible time scale. Thornton work in schools and airports but they took this on board as a small project that they could really get their hands on.”

The construction of the property was featured on Channel 4’s Grand Designs last year and Patrick states that the show has opened him up to a world of feedback that he never expected.

“After Grand Designs I received over seventy thousand emails from companies around the world and we got a lot of good reports and attention from all over the world,” he said. “The attention was something that I never expected and Channel 4 have apologised many times because they didn’t expect it to go so global and have said that it was the most popular episode they have ever televised.”

The project has also won several awards and has been short listed for two RICS awards at this year’s ceremony. The project has been short listed for awards in the Design Through Innovation and Residential categories.

Speaking about the nominations, Patrick said: “It is great to be nominated and they are great awards to be nominated for. They contacted me directly and said they would be delighted if we were involved, so it was a pleasure to be asked and to win would be cracking because it is something I never even thought of. The amount of attention and the amount of awards isn’t sinking in to be honest but hopefully in years to come, it will.”

credit: Richard Trainor and Richie Lavery

RICS Awards 2016

Showcasing a collection of inspiring developments and initiatives throughout the UK and Ireland, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Awards 2016 is an industry wide appreciation of some truly amazing projects. The RICS Awards are open to everyone within the built environment, from surveyors and property developers, to engineers, planners and architects, and demonstrate the sheer talent that is in operation within today’s industry.

Last year’s RICS Awards served up an incredibly diverse collection of projects, which highlighted the innovation in this sector. The overall winner of the RICS Awards 2015 was Advocate’s Close, a development situated in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town.

In this month’s edition of Premier Construction, we take a look at projects which made the shortlist for the RICS Awards 2016. Projects include Kentish Flats, Galgorm Resort & Spa, Grillagh Water House and Wilton’s Music Hall, amongst others.

For further information about the awards, please visit:

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