Design Guide for Rural Northern Ireland
Traditional Qualities: Siting and Boundaries
Traditional builders knew their landscape and their weather. The concept of view from the house was unimportant when placing a dwelling; much more important was the concept of shelter. The tops of hills were cold and unfriendly places to build, and buildings were carefully sited down the slope, out of the wind, and often with a shelter belt of trees as well.
Traditional Siting. Building integrated with lanscape.
House nestles into slope.
Dwelling houses normally nestled in sheltered positions using the landscape and planting as protection. A deep understanding of the sites had been gained over many summers and winters and dwellings quite sensibly shunned the prevailing cold winds and hugged the contours to increase comfort and use less fuel for heating.
The traditional rural house was a working dwelling; here the occupants lived and worked. The work may have related directly to the land around about - fruits and vegetables would have been grown and crops or animals may have been raised on the land around the house.
Cottage industries, too, would have been carried on in rural dwellings. Spinning, hand weaving, butter and cheese making were part of the Northern Ireland countryside and the lands surrounding the dwelling houses would have reflected these activities.
As part of the rural economy these buildings sat naturally in the rural landscape - so different from the suburban forms of development which are seen now. Modern designers should show a similar understanding of topography and the traditional approach to siting.
The edges of the site, with their drainage ditches and hedges merged naturally with the adjoining fields forming practical, low maintenance boundaries in harmony with the countryside.