Donegal man wins €100,000 to build wheelchair-friendly treehouse! – Donegal Daily


A Donegal-born architect has won a $100,000 prize to design and build a wheelchair-accessible treehouse in his home county.

Pol Gallagher, from Ballymacool, Letterkenny, was one of 100 winners of the $10 million Airbnb OMG Global Prize! Funds.

He is a lecturer in interior design and architecture at University of East London (UEL) and runs his own architectural design business, ZAP Architecturein Stratford.

A former pupil of Scoil Cholmcille and student at St Eunan’s College, he studied architecture at the Glasgow School of Art.

The $100,000 OMG! Funds was curated by Airbnb, an online marketplace that connects people with short-term stays and experiences.

It invited tens of thousands of entries from architects and designers who pitched their plans to create vibrant, creative homes in locations of their choosing.

Pol’s winning entry was titled ‘Caislean Oir’ (The Golden Castle) – a reference to local West Donegal folklore.

These drawings and designs encompass Pol’s first idea to design a breathtaking retreat in Donegal that would have all the drama of a treehouse, yet be wheelchair accessible.

This all-inclusive design aims to retain the architectural drama and magic of staying in a treehouse without ever feeling clinical or the appearance of the structure resembling a “disabled device”.

‘Caislean Black’ by Pol Gallagher. Photo: ZAP Architecture.

Paul said Donegal Daily he had imagined that the winning entry would be located in or around the Rosses/Dungloe area.

“I spent a lot of my childhood there and the scenery and people are hard to beat! I haven’t identified a specific site for this (treehouse) yet, but somewhere with a view of the water is a must,” he said.

He said this design is important because often people with physical disabilities are ostracized or made to have “quirky experiences” using very clinical and institutional looking assistive devices.

“I feel like this thoughtless design ‘device washing’ is hurting experiences on an emotional and immersive level. Good design should make inclusivity invisible to everyone – so that’s the goal here,” he continued.

The folded steel origami structure opens up dramatically like a flower to allow the bedroom to rise within – offering sweeping views of the ocean and the Donegal landscape beyond.

The special bonus of this architectural gem is the adjacent luxury Jacuzzi – which exaggerates the feeling of rural seclusion and tranquility. This moment of stillness is about retreat, mindfulness and appreciation of the landscape.

The ‘Cislean Black’ hot tub.

Pol will now start working on his pod design with ZAP Architecture.

“It’s amazing to win this because we often put so much effort into design competitions and sometimes you never appear given the number of quality submissions,” Pol said.

“It’s the culmination of many design ideas from previously failed competitions that prove to me that nothing is wasted; previous ideas are kept in a mental locker for their next release.

“The next step is to organize a team to build this. There are many moving robotic parts, so we need to engage with specialists in this discipline.

“This quirky Airbnb add-on will bring visitors to my often remote and rural village in Ireland, where the scenery is stunning and the opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city is available to recharge our stress and energy levels. anxiety.

“This project concerns a reconnection with nature from an ambitious architectural intervention”, he concluded.

For more information, see the list of OMG Fund Winners.

Donegal man wins €100,000 to build wheelchair-friendly treehouse! was last modified: October 18, 2022 by Cronan Scanlon

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