design et al are delighted to announce that Purcell have been successfully shortlisted for the Hotel under 50 Rooms Award of the International Hotel & Property Awards 2014. Their project, Ballyfin Hotel in County Laois, Ireland will also compete for the Hotel Suite Award.
Ireland’s finest Neo-classical house, Ballyfin, was transformed through conservation and repair into an exquisite and comfortable country house hotel. The design brief was to restore the house with great sensitivity and a strong understanding of the estate’s significance and refurbish it to serve as a five star hotel following years of dilapidation and its former use as a school. Scholarly research by the architects and historians informed the conservation and skillful restoration of the house by Irish and English craftsmen.
The house features fine dining, wine cellars, a lively bar and a large and comfortable library with books on Irish art, architecture and history, carefully repaired and adapted. Purcell remodelled a modern, four-storey dormitory extension to provide an additional wing, with bedrooms, ballroom, swimming pool and spa. An extensive scheme of repair was undertaken in the demesne. The water courses, fountains and streams were cleared and run through the grounds via a new cascade, surmounted by a small classical temple. Other park features, including a grotto and tower with observatory, were carefully restored for the use and enjoyment of hotel guests.
One of the building’s best features is an iron and glass conservatory, designed by Richard Turner and added in 1851. It comprises a large glass house with half-round apsidal ends and a curved glass roof with lantern above. The conservatory is connected to the House by a curved glass-vaulted corridor. When the property fell into dilapidation, the conservatory was near ruin, covered in rust and the glass almost green from exposure to the elements.
Following analysis of the materials and finishes and their condition, all removable components were recorded and taken down for blast cleaning, repair and repainting off site. The wrought iron frame was cleaned, repaired and painted in situ. The glazing comprised numerous narrow fish scale panes with curved upper and lower edges to direct drainage clear of the glazing bars. German cylinder glass was specified for ease of cutting and appearance. The cast iron perimeter potting shelves and their cast iron supports were also cleaned, repaired and painted. The end result is an indoor/outdoor reception space worthy of a 5* hotel. Guests can admire the 600 acre demesne from within the vaulted glass dome while relaxing on chairs. It is one of the hotel’s most loved rooms.