Suburban Home from County Cork Gets a Vernacular Makeover by Thomas O’Brien

This renovated suburban home can be found in County Cork in Ireland. The house is set on a green field site, and the original dwelling failed to take into account its surroundings – it was simply plonked on the land without any consideration for its context.


This lack of contextual is something the architect attempted to address through the extension. Thomas O’Brien was responsible for the redesign, overseeing the project through to its completion in 2017.



Titled after it’s location, Knockraha, the house is set on a small site measuring just 560-square-feet (52-square-meters). The resulting property takes inspiration from vernacular and minimalist design. The house is built around a concrete frame – an unusual material for residential scale construction in Ireland.



The concrete helps form both the rooms as well as some of the home’s features, like the kitchen fireplace for example. The use of concrete extended to the outside spaces, forming the gardens and courtyards. At intersecting corners, the walls were allowed to extend outwards, forming a small cross from which planters could be hung, or lean against.


Small details reveal the design’s sense of fun, like the oddly shaped roof. From the architect: “I wanted to make the project lighthearted; the roof is deliberately odd… the wet areas are tiled in fossilized Irish limestone, and the color yellow is used extensively to reflect the Australian clients sunnier origins.”

For more small houses check out Narvarte Terrace, a tiny getaway that overlooks the Mexico City. Or, this once dilapidated home that’s been revamped by KAA Studio to serve as a bright holiday home. See all small houses.

Photos © Oliver Smith

Niall Burke

Structural engineer by day, tiny house designer by night. Niall has a keen interest in small spaces, green design, and sustainability. He started developing Humble Homes while studying for his masters degree in engineering. He is the founder and managing editor of Humble Homes.