Nic Downs & Carolyn Merrifield

Products Used

When it came to Ty Oriel (‘Gallery House’ in Welsh), the brief was ambitious.

Architects Nic Downs and Carolyn Merrifield wanted something sleek but striking. Eco-friendly, but instantly classic. A family home that was angular and modern, but that could simultaneously blend with its more conservative suburban surroundings.

And they were that demanding for a very good reason. The house wasn’t just for anyone. It was theirs.

Clean and minimalistic, the resulting build is stylishly open-plan, incorporating an office and an art studio as well as four bedrooms, all south-facing to maximise natural light.

And to honour its location, it’s been made as much as possible from natural materials – lime, render, zinc timber, and, arguably most important of all, slate.

Two hundred square metres of SSQ’s Del Carmen Celtas slate were used on Ty Oriel’s roof and to clad its walls.

Where most slate suppliers only offer a choice of a few off-the-shelf specifications, here SSQ provided something entirely bespoke. Slates in eleven different sizes, all custom cut and holed at an SSQ depot, contrasted the building’s sleek lines with a more rugged, rustic aesthetic.

Without it, the house would’ve looked too modern – too brash and outlandish for its sleepy outer Cardiff location. But with it, Ty Oriel achieves that incredibly difficult balance between traditional and contemporary – providing Nic and Carolyn with a thoroughly modern, high-performance family home, without clashing with its surroundings.

A key consideration when deciding how to roof and clad the building was the infamously soggy Welsh weather, as SSQ’s Head of Marketing Dora Kotzeva explains:

“Wales is one of the wettest countries in Europe, and Nic and Carolyn wanted something they could guarantee would withstand a lot of rainfall. Thankfully, longevity is an area where Del Carmen excels.

“Taken from one of Northern Spain’s most celebrated quarries, Del Carmen is of such a high quality that it’s one of extremely few imported slates that’s been used in areas as historic and culturally important as Snowdonia National Park.

“We guarantee it for up to 100 years – and there’s never been a single recorded failure of a Del Carmen roof anywhere in the world. That combination of outstanding performance and stunning natural aesthetics made it the perfect choice for this gorgeous development.”

Carolyn Merrifield of Downs Merrifield Architects commented: “We’re absolutely delighted with how the project turned out, and 100% satisfied with both Del Carmen and the service we received from SSQ.

“We’ve used it on several projects since – and we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for a beautiful, natural, and extremely robust roofing and cladding solution.”