Conservation of Curvi-Linear Glass House
Prospect House, Co. Kildare

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The conservation of this unique freestanding Curvi Linear style glass house in a garden in County Kildare began with research into the history of the various glass houses used in Ireland over the past one hundred and fifty years. Most gardens tended to have lean-to glass and timber sections built of brick or rubble-stone walls.

Richard Turner championed metal hoops and designed some of the world’s most iconic glasshouses, notably at Glasnevin and latterly Kew. It is most likely that the metal hoops used in the construction of this glass house in Kildare were forged in his Hammersmith Ironworks in Ballsbridge.

However, unlike Turner’s works, the glass on this structure was not curved or sitting on the metal hoops. In this case: flat panes, 12inches by 30inches, were attached by copper clips, to 8mm thick round bars on the horizontal that intercepted the vertical metal hoops.  The two front and back elevations were made of painted pitch pine, and the low wall, reinforced with concrete, sat on an old rubble stone foundation.

It was decided to strip the glass house back to a shell, leaving only the metal hoops and timber ridge board in place. The walls were then repaired and plastered with x3 coats of hydraulic lime, and a second entrance was cut into the bottom elevation.

All the old woodwork was deemed to be beyond repair and removed from the structure. A new treated larch wall plate was installed and clad with copper. All the metal work was sanded down and repainted.

A ring drain was dug around the entire perimeter of the structure leading to a new soak away. A perimeter path was then built around the structure and edged with reclaimed limestone cobble. Old granite steps were installed at both entrances with cobble detail between.

Internally a new floor comprising of 12 inch square reclaimed quarry tiles was laid on the diagonal with a fall to both doors.

Two new timber and glass elevations made of Arocco, with narrow paneled double doors, with lattice detail above the doors, were installed.

Electrical sockets were installed and water points set up inside and out for taps.

A cedar wood ridge was installed and painted with a neat groove to hold the original decorative filials. Between these filials, the original metal cresting was repositioned, a small part of which was expertly cast and replicated in aluminum.  

The glass house was then re-glazed, using as much of the original glass as possible. All the original copper clips were salvaged and reused.

The project presented a remarkable opportunity to conserve and work with original metal hoops and glass, and gave the scope to redesign and tighten up a very elegant structure, set in a truly magnificent garden.