Last edited 07 Feb 2021

Main author

CIAT Website

The Black House

The Black house completed CIAT 625.jpg

Marty and Chris bought a 1970s bungalow on the edge of Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland, solely for the stunning location and spectacular panoramic views. The pebble dashed bungalow, which had been poorly added to over the years, did not represent their way of living as top Northern Ireland food bloggers. They wanted a house where they could entertain and provide a space large enough for their legendary invite only ‘dish you were here’ supper evenings, while also creating a bright family home.

2020 Architects were tasked to take this small roomed, poorly insulated, dark existing house and, on an incredibly tight budget, create a dramatic modern home. The build brought a little theatre to this stretch of the coast while providing bright, open-plan living spaces. It was quickly concluded that the shell of the original house was reasonable to adapt in terms of costs and the existing form – which sits comfortably on the site; however, the extensions and alterations to the original shape were helping to create the insipid and uninspiring 1970s house.

Black House CIAT 800.jpg
The bungalow before the works started.

2020 Architects stripped the house back to its core; the layout was simplified to provide a generous living space with maximised views by adding a wall of glass. The existing window openings where replaced with minimalist fenestration or frameless glass where possible.

The original roof structure within the living/kitchen/dining space was retained and the ceiling vaulted to use light in this area without incurring severe cost implications. The obligatory walk-in larder and utility space was added at the rear as a discrete flat-roof extension.

Black House after CIAT 750.jpg
The Black House after completion.

The bathroom layout was re-designed to exploit the dramatic views, with high quality tiles and sanitaryware incorporated to transform the space. The master bedroom was wholly changed to include a walk-in wardrobe, en-suite and sauna. Frameless glass was used in place of a standard window unit to obtain full advantage of the sea view.

The house was well insulated and wrapped in black corrugated metal to complement its surroundings; rainwater goods were reduced and hidden to set off the dramatic form. Initially a polished brass door was specified for the main entrance. However, to maintain budget, the clients opted for a yellow PVC door.

Marty and Chris are now turning their attention to the garden and grounds. They intend on creating a garden room complete with a fire, patio and landscaping to include flame red flowers set along the black backdrop.

[edit] About this article

This article was written by Robert Barrie MCIAT. It previously appeared in CIAT’s AT Journal, Issue 129, Spring 2019. It can be accessed HERE.

More articles by CIAT on Designing Buildings Wiki can be found HERE.

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki


Designing Buildings Anywhere

Get the Firefox add-on to access 20,000 definitions direct from any website

Find out more Accept cookies and
don't show me this again