‘Starchitect’ farmer builds skin cancer awareness

From a farming background, working in construction, ‘starchitect’ Patrick Bradley is well placed to front a skin cancer awareness campaign.

From Slaughtneil, Derry, he became a global sensation in architecture overnight after he created a home from four shipping containers for Kevin McCloud’s Channel 4 programme ‘Grand Designs’.

Grillagh Water House, revealed as McCloud’s all-time favourite, was constructed over 10 months and is now Patrick’s family home.

Overwhelmed by the massive response to the programme, he had to walk away from the intensity of the demand and focus on an edited portfolio of work while continuing to farm.

I am still farming and I find it a great way to relax and unwind. We have suckler cows and sheep.

“My studio is located within the land we own and I have designed it in a way that I overlook certain areas of the farm and the nearby river.

“My father, James, is still the main boss on the farm, so I believed it was essential to have both the house and the studio located in such close proximity, so if Da ever required assistance that I was close at hand.”

‘Much more enjoyable home’

Patrick’s wife, Victoria, is originally from South Africa and they have a daughter, Eve. His stunning designs – many of them on farms and in rural areas – have won a slew of awards. The ‘starchitect’ is happy to see a change in outlook when it comes to rural house design.

I do feel there has been a change in people’s perspective. People are gradually coming to the understanding that bespoke and designed houses that are based heavily on their brief and their site, creates for them a much more enjoyable home. Also large houses are not as common as people are more interested in good quality design with much more efficient layouts.

“Ireland is one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever seen and I think that people see that opportunity of building a dream home in the countryside. But in relation to design, I feel it is essential that this does not destroy the countryside,” said Patrick, who has been a judge on the RTÉ series ‘Home of the Year’.

“In terms of the visual appearance of the houses, I myself believe it is essential that it respects our surrounding beautiful landscapes and environment. Thankfully, the idea of a big bold mark Georgian property is now gradually becoming a thing of the past,” Patrick said.

“I have a lot of rural projects and designs on the drawing board at present for all types of clients and sites. Every client and site is completely different, so each and every design that we do is completely different,” the ‘starchitect’ said.

Completed project

Slemish House is among his completed projects. Its discreet site, located off a private shared laneway, is defined by stonewalling to all boundaries and sits within an area of outstanding natural beauty. The property enjoys an uninterrupted southerly view of the nearby Slemish mountain.

The broadly linear replacement dwelling can be described as two forms along the same axis augmented by a dividing car port. The main body of the building addresses the dwelling function with the second smaller block forming garages and a games room, surmounted by a first floor balcony wrap.

A material palette has been derived from vernacular cladding such as metal sheeting and timber panels, common on rural buildings. Glazed walls ensure all views were maximised and facilitate inside/outside living.

Serious about risks

Patrick commended Breakthrough Cancer Research for its fun new campaign calling on farmers, builders and other outdoor workers as well as sportspeople to get serious about the risks of skin cancer.

I think this is an incredible campaign as coming from a farming background, working in construction, I believe when it comes to the dangers of sun, despite living in maybe not the most sunniest countries in the world, we all forget about them. When it comes to general safety in both farming and construction and the risks involved, we try to avoid accidents but we never really take into consideration the dangers of the sun.

“I do think it’s in our nature that we may feel that we are invincible due to the personalities of workers on farms and construction sites, so this is the reason I feel this campaign is essential and bringing awareness to the dangers of the sun,” the ‘starchitect’ said.