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Grand Designs to feature architect's Portrush dream home

By Stephanie Bell

Situated on one of the most stunning sites on the north coast, an old stone forge in Portrush has been transformed into a spectacular modern home that is to feature on Channel 4's Grand Designs tomorrow.

Designed by its owner Michael Howe, a partner in 2020 Architects in Ballymoney, the spectacular building is now the family home for him, his wife Michelle and children Rudi (3) and Anna (7 months).

Over the past three years Kevin McCloud and the team from Grand Designs have followed the building's progress, visiting the site multiple times to check on developments.

And, finally, from this month, Michael and his family can now call what's been known as the Ballymagarry Project their home.

Michael said: "The site on which our home is located is one of the most picturesque on the north coast.

"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.

Michael added: "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 to ensure the home was future proofed by building it close to passive house standards, which included the use of 300 straw bales for insulation.

By restoring the old forge building and creating an impressive modern extension with double height spaces and floor to ceiling windows, the Grand Designs project is now completed after a number of challenges.

These included the budget increasing and changing of suppliers.

Michael explained: "The structure is more typically northern European.

"Yet I was determined to use local craftspeople to deliver as many elements of the build as possible.

"At the 11th hour, Glenfort Timber Engineering in Co Tyrone produced five spruce 'glulam' arched frames.

"They are now central to the home's design and remain exposed within the building's interior.

"From Kells, Creative Joinery Worx also played a key role in creating the specialist joinery for the windows, floors and staircase, all of which add to the design element of our home."

  • The property will be featured tomorrow night on Grand Designs, 9pm, Channel 4.

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