An Tearmann

Meaning 'retreat' in Gaelic, a series of wood pavilions form accommodation in an abandoned walled garden

Project date


Project location

Dublin, Ireland

Massy’s Wood is little more than a short drive from Dublin city center into the Mountains, yet lies solitary and forgotten. Once the walled gardens of a great house, the overgrown site now becomes a sanctuary, an Tearmann. 

As the river through the forest offers an continuous path of movement and sound, so water is redirected through the site to connect four individual profiled bars, which connect to, soar above or nestle against the original garden walls. From foot or horseback, angled glass windows reflect either glimmering tree canopy or forest floor along the timber bars, framing their own patch of forest.


School of Architecture, Planning & Environmental Policy


University College Dublin



A rapid flowing stream winds next to the north wall of the site providing the sound of running water amongst the rustling tree leaves. Following the natural levels of the garden, a new man-made path of water is introduced;    running from the stables at the upper-most level, through the accommodation court, and down into the common hall where it provides irrigation to the low-lying greenhouse boxes. Finally it passes under the hall to a reflective water garden for tranquil reflection under the canopy.

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An overgrown garden

Once the controlled pleasure garden of the nearby 'big house' the walled enclosures had been given over to the wild of the surrounding wood. This allowed saplings to take over, unhindered by mature trees and led to a uniquely dense young tree-coverage, especially through the upper area. The three walled gardens grew to have distinctly different light conditions - something to be protected and celebrated in the new retreat. 



As the forest canopy catches, filters and redirects rain, so the roofs of An Tearmann catch rainwater and direct it into the new reflection stream. 

Soft north light is invited into the accommodation interiors - capturing views directly into the surrounding tree canopy, and allowing the movement of the forest be experienced from within. 

The angled glass facades play with reflected light, so one cannot be sure if a surface will reveal sky, forest floor or be a window into an interior world.

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