Contemporary cool in Dublin 4
This award-winning four-bedroom period house has been completely contemporarised by Taka Architects, while retaining its period character
What’s involved in the refurbishment of a period two-storey-over-basement property? It’s a question many house hunters would like answered, especially those attending auctions, where the price of the house can drift out of your budget range in nanoseconds. Many examples of this style of period home coming to market are in original condition and until the builder starts digging you don’t know what the real cost of upgrading it will be. And that may be after your architect’s ideas failed to win over the planners.
Striking a balance between introducing cool contemporary areas and maintaining the period personality of the property as a Dublin grande dame home is difficult. Many buyers leave the “good” rooms, the interconnecting rooms at hall level, as they were when the house was first built.
Number seven Morehampton Road is a house in which all that hard work and hassle is already addressed. It has been completely contemporarised whilst retaining its period features. Designed by Taka Architects, a small practice offering really fresh thinking, that, in addition to participating in the Venice Architectural Biennale in 2008 and co-curating the Irish Pavilion in 2010, received an Irish Architecture Award for the refurbishment and extension of this Victorian redbrick.
Elegant period features
The listed building’s elegant period features include plain coving, decorative ceiling roses and matching marble fireplaces. These remain in place. But the formal interconnecting reception rooms at hall level have been reconsidered.
An opening replaces the door to the front room. It echoes the shape of the original interconnecting arch, a form that also frames the huge picture window to the rear, that replaced the original sash window and through which you can see the copper-clad extension and on out to the garden. It’s a clever way of refreshing these classically Victorian rooms. Some people may find the open-plan aspect too, well, open and you could install a floor-to-ceiling glass inner door that would psychologically and physically divide the rooms without destroying the sense of flow that currently exists.
The listed building has double-glazed sash windows throughout that dull the ambient traffic noise on Morehampton Road, a busy bus corridor, to barely audible levels.
A study on the return, painted terracotta red, has a gas stove and overlooks the garden. This could also be used as a fifth bedroom.
Taka totally modernised the garden-level layout, creating an open- plan space, with polished concrete floors, that is divided into four areas. A pared-down stainless steel Binova kitchen divides one of two lounge areas from the diningroom where lunch takes place around an altar-like concrete slab table. Laminated Douglas fir beams clad the ceilings above.
Both lounges have copper-clad open fireplaces. The overall effect is stark without sacrificing warmth although some may find the beams overwhelming – again these could be removed but they are one of the firm’s strong signatures.
On the hall return the spa-style family bathroom has slate flooring, a freestanding tub and a shower big enough for two.
There are three bedrooms on the first floor. The two principal rooms are designed like his and hers rooms. They have an interconnecting door that contains a rectangular brass peep-hole, a stylish looking idea that in practice may not appeal to most couples. The third bedroom is a large single or small double.
The fourth bedroom is on the first floor return. At its entrance is a utility area where a washing machine and shelving have been installed, putting an end to lugging laundry up and down several flights of stairs.
The south-west-facing brick- paved garden was designed by Thirty Three Trees. It is small because a mews house to the rear has claimed much of the garden. But the locale is well served by green spaces. The 332sq m (3,578sq ft) property is close to Herbert Park and just a stone’s throw from the grounds of the Royal Hospital, a secret green space at the end of Bloomfield Avenue.
The house has an AMV of €1.5 million through agents Property Team O’Mahony. The auction is on Thursday, July 3rd at 3pm in Buswells Hotel, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2.