The School Around The Corner

From school to family home

Story Highlights
  • “ I had a VISION for the PROJECT.”
  • “ The BUILDING was to be DEMOLISHED.”
  • “ It’s a VERY SIMPLE but SOUND structure.”

CraftStudio Architecture took on the project to refurbish, extend and convert the Old Killygarry School to a family home. The project involved the renovation and extension of a 1894 built, two classroom national school in County Ca-van. Abandoned in 1997, after the construction of a new school, it was due to be demolished, having laid decaying since.

The Architect over this project was Ronan Fitzpatrick who also owns this property and he very graciously took time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about his gorgeous family home. Mr Fitzpatrick is an architect, registered with the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland. He is also a Grade 3 accredited conservation architect and is extremely passionate about the restoration and repurposing of our built heritage.

He has expertise at leading project teams to deliver building projects on time and on budget. Ro-nan has studied at the University of Ulster, Belfast and Waterford Institute of Technology. Ronan’s thesis project was nominated for the RIBA President’s Medal Awards.

Having gained experience at leading architectural practices, Ronan established CraftStudio Architecture about eight years ago with the intention to deliver innovative architecture both locally and country wide. “We wanted to maintain the look of the old school but as it had become a bit of an eye sore we were keen to freshen it up whilst maintaining its presence along the road with whatever we did to the building playing second fiddle to that,’’ said Ronan Fitzpatrick. “We began work on the house in the summer of 2016.

Due to the very nature of the building and it being a very simple structure, there isn’t a lot of complexity to the building itself so that is why nothing that we wouldn’t have expected raised its head throughout the building work. “It’s a very simple but sound structure. Work on the project was finished at the end of 2017 and we absolutely love the house and we couldn’t fault the house,’’ added Mr Fitzpatrick.

The design maintains and reinstates the presence of the schools setting, with a new extension retracted behind the formality of the original building. It is composed as a dark geometric volume, its exact shape and size ambiguous from the public domain. The structure is clad in vertical black stained larch, grounding it in its setting, whilst distinguishing it from the traditional wet dash of the existing.

Whilst distinctively modern the new extension is configured to remain subordinate to the original, the form tempered by a traditional pitched roof. Sited along a busy national road, the geometric form of the extension is orientated and structured in direct response to this constraint, maximising privacy for the occupants.

Internally the large classroom accommodates the main living spaces. The floor level has been raised in part to allow views from the kitchen and dining areas, with a snug unobtrusively demarked by a change in floor level.

A living space in the new extension is intrinsically linked via existing opes in the original stone and brick rear facade. A top lit double height volume between accentuates the juxtaposition and draws light into both. The staircase is designed as a sculptural piece, folded raw steel, cranked to sit within the constraints of the existing space. Deep punched windows and recessed opes are deliberately orientated to frame views of the surrounding countryside.

“It’s important when you are doing a renovation project of any nature that the existing building stays at the heart of what you are doing. I would encourage people to embrace it (the project) if they ever get the opportunity to renovate an old building like this because they have an awful lot to offer,’’ enthused Ronan.

As to his closing thoughts on his home?

“I had a vision for the project, I was very hands on and I did quite a bit of the work myself. I was on site every single day bar when I was on honeymoon. “The key part of it was that it was the school that my Dad went to and I also attended the school and it is a building that is embedded in the community. “The building was to be demolished and we were appointed to procure the demolition of it and it was only then that I gave it some consideration and I decided to do it up and make it our home,’’ concluded Ronan Fitzpatrick.


Ronan Fitzpatrick
CraftStudio Architecture,
Aviemore House, 6 Hill Street,County Monaghan.

Words: Emer Kelly Pics: CraftStudio Architecture

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