Portrush ‘house of straw’ to feature on C4’s Grand Designs

The house sits on one of the most stunning and picturesque sites on the north coast
The house sits on one of the most stunning and picturesque sites on the north coast

A unique Portrush home which incorporates 300 straw bales in its construction is to feature on Channel 4’s Grand Designs programme on Wednesday.

Situated on one of the most stunning sites on the north coast, the structure of a 100-year-old stone forge building has been transformed into a spectacular modern home.

The house is designed by Michael Howe, partner in 2020 Architects in Ballymoney, who now lives in the building with his wife Michele and children, Rudi, three, and Anna, who is seven months.

Over the past three years, presenter Kevin McCloud and the team from the Grand Designs programme have followed the building’s progress, visiting the site multiple times.

As of this month, eventually Michael and his family can now call what’s been known as the ‘Ballymagarry Project’ their home.

“The site on which our home is located is one of the most picturesque on the north coast,” Michael said.

“I fell in love with the views a long time ago but as it’s an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, I knew that planning permission could be a challenge.”

With panoramic sea views of the Portrush peninsula and Atlantic Ocean, stretching as far as the Donegal headlands, the site was home to a 100-year-old stone forge that had been lying derelict for years.

“Over the years, I’ve become well used to designing homes that are sympathetic to their surroundings and it’s one of our strengths at 2020 Architects.

“I was confident that I could design our dream family home, that would be both in keeping with its beautiful surroundings, yet be a bastion for the best of modern design.”

Michael chose only to use local suppliers for the build and ensured the home was ‘future proofed’ by building it to high modern standards, which included the use of 300 straw bales for insulation.

The house has five spruce ‘glulam’ arched frames that are central to the home’s design and remain exposed within the building’s interior.

“The structure is more typically northern European yet I was determined to use local crafts people to deliver as many elements of the build as possible,” he added.

Grand Designs airs at 9pm on Channel 4 on Wednesday.