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Jeffry's House offers views of rural Ireland


August 14, 2014

Jeffry’s House, by architect Thomas O’Brien and artist Emily Mannion (Photo: Emily Mannion/Thomas O’Brien)

Jeffry’s House, by architect Thomas O’Brien and artist Emily Mannion (Photo: Emily Mannion/Thomas O’Brien)

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One could be forgiven for taking the view that the Irish countryside cannot be improved upon with the addition of any man-made structure. That said, you'd be hard-pressed to come up with a shelter more sympathetic to its surroundings than Jeffry's House, a rural installation by architect Thomas O’Brien and artist Emily Mannion that's located at Ards Forest Park, Co. Donegal

Reminiscent of Scotland's Lookout in purpose if not form, Jeffry’s House was commissioned by Donegal County Council and the Irish Architectural Foundation (IAF) earlier this year, following a competition by the latter body. The structure is open to the public and believed by its creators to be Ireland’s first architecture installation in a forest park. It is hoped that similar structures will follow in its wake.

Jeffry’s House measures roughly 18 sq m (193 sq ft), and was built on-site by architect Thomas O’Brien and artist Emily Mannion. It takes its name from Jeffry’s Lough, a lake which O’Brien says was once nearby and can be viewed on older maps but has since disappeared.

The installation comprises a wooden frame structure covered by thatch, and rests on stilts to be sure that the ground beneath is not unduly disturbed. It is located toward the edge of a forest, offering visitors shelter and views of the nearby sea, sand dunes, and distant mountains.

"Jeffry's House displays a great consideration to craft and an intriguing architectural narrative," said Nathalie Weadick, Director of the IAF. "Thomas O’Brien and Emily Mannion have given us so much more than just an object on a site – they’ve created the potential for a magical conversation between the folly, the landscape and the public."

Source: Thomas O'Brien Architects

About the Author
Adam Williams Adam scours the globe from his home in North Wales in order to bring the best of innovative architecture and sustainable design to the pages of Gizmag. Most of his spare time is spent dabbling in music, tinkering with old Macintosh computers and trying to keep his even older VW bus on the road. All articles by Adam Williams

I think it is a nice shelter but I am not sure I would call it a house.


I have heard that thatch is fairly fire resistant but I still wouldn't want to be in a house like this in an Australian bush fire. It looks like it is designed to burn.


Please just for the fun of it, give us your definition of,"house."


I can see how one could possibly make it into a tiny house (a loft could be installed in the upper area reached by a ladder, put doors on the front and back and have the lower area with a tiny rest room and a combo kitchen / living area). I think it is (currently) more like a gazebo than anything anyone could live in.


I've seen the Natural Beauty of this area, and it's magnificent. I just fail to see what this structure adds to, or what it functions as beside a shelter in an emergency. I love architecture, and no doubt this is a Grand Design, but for me it loses something standing on stilts, and looks more of a backyard Child's Hide-a-way. None the less, I will go have a look see in the next few months as maybe the pictures don't do it justice.

Rickey Morris

By my definition, that is NOT a house, and as for being sympathetic to the surrounding countryside, in South Africa maybe !

Martin Hone
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