© MacGabhann Architects

Ever thought about grazing sheep on top of your house?

The Venice Biennale is on at the moment in... well, Venice. I've been reading about the Irish entries to the exhibition - and it's all very interesting. At first glance, the architects seem to be creating a kind of construction haute couture - but when I looked deeper, they seem to be both practical and imaginative in addressing the burning issues of day. Ireland's population is growing rapidly, and the infrastructure and housing market are only barely keeping up. And while there's demand for housing, a certain well-off strata of society maintain countless holidays homes on the beautiful west coast that remain empty much of the year, adding to the hellish 'Bungalow Blitz' that has quite a few people upset.

Indeed, while I sit here in a house in on Ireland's west coast right now, I'm surrounded by empty houses that have lain dormant since the end of August.

Now, however, two County Donegal architects, Antoin and Tarla MacGabhann, have come up with a novel way of 'hiding' houses - using hydraulic systems to hide holiday homes when not in use...

"Holiday homes are killing the Golden Goose of tourism. Tideaways, based on an analysis of the Rundale system, includes seasonal homes in the sea on a pontoon that are towed into derelict Donegal harbours for winter storage and hillside 'sinkable' houses on a hydraulic system, linked to the pontoon, that rise and fall with the tides. When nobody's at home, the empty sinkable house collapses on its hydraulic ram, disappearing from sight into the ground. Its grass roof becomes part of the landscape you can walk over."

MacGabhann Architects - Tideaways »

"Removing blots from the landscape could become far easier thanks to an improbable vanishing act conjured up by a team of Irish architects: their houses simply disappear into the ground. Tackling "bungalow blight" is a priority in an increasingly wealthy country desperate to preserve its tourist industry but littered with more and more second homes. The single-storey dwellings being developed by two County Donegal architects, Antoin and Tarla MacGabhann, could provide the solution, satisfying rural planners and environmental campaigners, as well as those who admire ever-changing coastal views."

The Guardian: Vanishing trick for Ireland's second homes »

Sinkable homes could solve bungalow blight»

And while we're on the Venice Biennele:

Here's another interesting idea from Henegan Peng architects:

"Dublin-London is the world's second busiest air route. Short-haul flights are fuel-inefficient and may not be viable by 2030. Using oil-rig technology, build a bridge from Rosslare to Fishguard: high-speed trains travel Dublin-London in 2.5 hours and on to Paris. The power of this 'magnet' turns Dublin into an elastic, stretched city along the Irish Sea, instead of a blob spreading out over the midlands."

"As a trade-dependent island, air travel has become a necessity for Ireland. The Dublin-London air route is the busiest in Europe and the second busiest in the world. We propose a bridge and high-speed rail connecting Ireland to Wales and, via London, continental Europe. The immense pull of this linear attractor would be such that the city would recreate itself around the link, bringing housing development and infrastructure together. By creating this bridge, Ireland would be putting in place a catalyst for the reconfiguration of urban sprawl and the formation of a stretched city, an ElastiCity."

More: ElastiCity »

More Irish entries to the Venice Biennale here »

And more examples here on »