An 18th-Century Coach House Is Reborn as an Assisted Living Residence

Once upon a time, this historic space was part of a larger Irish estate. Now, it welcomes new residents to celebrate its fascinating past.

When Ireland–based design group DHB Architects was challenged with transforming an 18th-century coach house into an assisted living unit for a disabled young adult and her parents, the team sought to preserve the integrity of the building as much as possible.

With its courtyard and walled garden, the abandoned structure was once part of a larger Irish estate that included an early 19th-century home.

To avoid blemishing the original architecture of the coach house, the team has designed a new structure to be inserted within the existing rubble stone walls. Thanks to floor-to-ceiling glass paneling, the volume allows the residents to view the home's remarkable 18th-century stonework. 

"Concrete ribbon stairs" with timber cantilevered steps have been inserted to create a modern contrast to the building's original un-plastered walls. The staircase has been designed so that it didn't touch the exterior wall. 

While the original walls were also cleaned up and repaired with lime mortar by a stone mason, they still retain their historic patina with layers of plaster and paint. Doorways and window openings in the original coach house were left as is, which lets the residents view the landscape through the former apertures.

Here, a walkway overlooks the gym below. "Inside this building, you can sense and see its past," says the homeowner. "You don't forget that you're living in an old coach house." 

On the ground floor, living spaces and a gym have been designed for the residents. There is a also a two-bedroom guest apartment with original timber beams spanning the width of the structure on the second level. 

In the upstairs apartment, a neutral color scheme complements the earthy tones of the coach house, while also letting its original architectural features shine.  

Other unique features include the dramatic "concrete ribbon stairs" in the main entrance, along with exposed 18th-century architectural details, like the trusses with king posts.  

The upstairs apartment includes a contemporary kitchen and dining area.

To adapt the space for the disabled resident, seamless transitions have been created to connect all ground-floor rooms, including exterior spaces like the terrace and garden lawn. Additionally, a custom hydraulic lift has been installed in the bathroom to eliminate the need of hoists. 

The home's original structure can be viewed through the glass panels of the new unit.

Project credits:

Architect: DHB Architects 

Builder/general contractor: Clodagh Construction

Structural engineer: Frank Fox & Associates

Stairs: AJD Stairs



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