Airfield Estate

Visitor, Education, Restaurant and Farm Experience, Dublin

Airfield Estate, the former home of Letitia and Naomi Overend, is a 42 acre estate that has been open to the public since 1998.

Airfield is a unique fertile and delightful ‘ecosystem’; a family experience, working farm, fecund gardens and much more in the midst of urban and suburban development. City Home, Country Heart has long been Airfields bye line and the diversity, seasonality and enchantment  our clients have long engendered here makes something of an understatement of even this ambitious goal.

Solearth led a multidisciplinary design team, working from previous sustainable masterplans we and others had developed, to create an enhanced landscape of farm and garden activities; eco structures and buildings that make a positive contribution to the unique Airfield ‘experience’; conservation works that will strengthen the architectural character of the existing building stock and the development of sustainable and energy efficient designs based on passive measures. The project was completed in 2014 and has won many awards.

As well as new entrances and car parks, Solearth have created a new shop and entrance pavilion, new waterside restaurant , new facilties for education, car display, new horticultural and cooking demonstration areas,  and a new farmyard complex. In addition, the main house has been restored (this was designed and led by Eunan McLoughlin of McLoughlin Architects).

Design wise, there were a number of drivers: The first was a reorientation of the visitor access into the Estate with a new entrance avenue across Dudley’s Field from Overend Way. A new entrance pavilion with relocated garden centre and café in this position allows both the paid visitor and the general public to use these facilities. The second driver was to expand the visitor experience to the whole site and encourage the visiting of areas to the south east which were little visited. This was achieved by the development of additional horticultural spaces in proximity to the House – reflecting the hierarchy of scale of the existing external spaces. The third driver was to reinvigorate the existing House: the decision to remove the café out of the House to a new pavilion structure to the south alleviates pressures and allows for restoration of the existing building. Furthermore, it presents Airfield with a natural space in which to exhibit the Overend archive.The fourth driver was the restructuring of The Hive, a complex of educational and event facilities to the east of the House itself. This intervention  seeks to re-establish the historic building line and spatial rhythm through the demolition of the shop and timber yard and the provision of a new multi-function teaching and event space that defines a courtyard to the east and garden to the west. Finally, the focussing of the farm activities in a new farm centre (farmyard, dairy and animal barns) provides an important destination for visitors and school groups,  and becomes a further magnet to draw visitors ot  the south eastern fields.

Sustainability strategies underpin and are suffused throughout design decisions from first thoughts to final details at Airfield. Low embodied CO2 materials and passive servicing strategies inform the approach  to each building, while Habitat restoration, water conservation and recovery and the minimisation of the impacts of traffic and nearby development  govern site strategy and approaches to land use throughout.



Contract Value:
€ 11 million
Dundrum, Dublin
The Irish Architecture Awards 2014
Best Cultural Project
Best Sustainable ProjectThe Green Awards 2014
Airfield Evolution Green Building Award 2014