Sort It: Forward-thinking to improve period design can create better homes
I visited Google’s offices on Barrow Street, Dublin, recently and, of all the buildings I’ve been inside in the past couple of years, nothing has made more of an impact on me.
It wasn’t the architecture or any individual design idea that stood out, of which there was an abundance. Rather it was the brief glimpse inside the philosophy behind why the offices are designed that way and the thought, research and consideration that produced such an inspirational result.
The Google approach to design is forward-thinking and overwhelmingly inspiring. As a nation we are very conservative when it comes to design and a little afraid to tamper or change anything old.
This is particularly true when it comes to a period property. But how we live now and how people used to live during Georgian times is quite different.
So why try to make our lifestyles fit into the confines of a Georgian layout and expect there to be perfect harmony?
In this spirit Google has looked at the future of working and how its employees want and need to work. The search giant has created a successful workplace and an environment that is wonderful to be in as it suits its occupants’ needs perfectly.
By asking their employees what kind of environment they want to work in Google has created a workplace that is not only productive but is a pleasant place to be.
The one standout finding from a Google employee survey was that the employees wanted their workplace to feel like home. The result is a home from home that works perfectly for Google.
We should apply the same philosophy to our own homes. I’m not suggesting that we put indoor swings and padded booths in our homes but we should really look at what our specific needs are and adapt what we have to suit.
We recently completed a renovation for clients where the Victorian layout was not working.
By adding a small two-storey extension to the rear we were able to bring the house into the present.
The extension added what the home lacked, such as a seating and dining area off the existing kitchen, offering a more sociable dining and living space and better connection with the garden.
On the first floor we added a generous bathroom and dressing area giving better storage and replacing the original bathroom, which was not in proportion to the rest of the house.
The extension was quite contemporary in style but we selected materials and finishes that complemented the original house, being careful to maintain its integrity.
All the original features were retained and the layout reworked to ensure that this Victorian home could be enjoyed to its maximum now and for years to come.
Denise O’Connor is an architect and design consultant. She features in a new series Design Doctors, starting on RTÉ 1 at 8.30pm tonight