Before and after: bungalow blitzed to capture superb views

A 1970s hillside bungalow in Killiney, Co Dublin, moves to a new level

In terms of transformations, usually there is a discernible thread connecting what once was to the post-surgical present. Residual features endure and still resonate, regardless of the severity of intervention. Amazingly, this was once a dormer bungalow. Hard to believe given the nature of what now sits atop this hill, which finally has a home worthy of its location.

The existing property was a 1970s bungalow with a dormer attic conversion and a crumbling single-storey extension to the rear. It was, however, situated on a sloping site with stunning sea views and hillside vistas. The sloping site, a great testbed for any architect and a challenge most would relish, had obvious potential. The site sloped towards the front with magnificent sea views, and the rear had a sheltered south-facing garden with similarly glorious views towards the rolling hills. The stage was set.

The brief was to remodel and extend the house to provide a sustainable and contemporary family home with direct access to outdoor living space for a family with two young boys. This required the aforementioned major surgery, and DMVF architects were at hand to provide the expertise to not only lead the way in terms of refurbishment and extension, but also to literally bring this home on to another level.

Unique sea view

In terms of design moves, the building was brought back to its shell. This meant removing the existing roof, dormer and rear extension in order to work with the existing footprint to start building it back up again. Each bedroom is located at first-floor level to the front in a projecting anthra zinc-clad box with a large picture window in each bedroom framing its own unique sea view.


A new zinc-clad first floor with full height glazing to the front was introduced to take full advantage of the panoramic sea views. A spacious new family room at ground-floor level with large glazed openings, opens up to both the private south-facing rear garden and to the front with a new cantilevered terrace area to provide further sea views. While logical, there is still a strength in the boldness of the design here that evidently placed firm priority on the elevated site, and the easy on the eye views.

The obvious place for the outdoor living space and garden was to the rear to avail of sunlight throughout the day, and the natural shelter it offered. However, the sea views were located to the front of the house so there was a problem to resolve here. The solution was to run the new kitchen / living / dining area from the front of the house to the back so it connected with both the rear garden, and also the sea views to the front – which unlocked the potential of this site.

A large pair of sliding doors allows the living area to open directly on to the rear garden and they also allow transparency from the rear garden through the building to the front and the sea views. The sloping zinc-clad roof projecting beyond the rear wall of the house provides a canopy, for shade in hotter months and additional privacy to the family room. This isn’t form-making, or ad hoc shaping – it’s responsive architecture, for the benefit and comfort of those who will reside within its walls.


Concentrating on sea views one way, and hillside views the other – if you ever felt the need to look directly up, rooflights to the rear frame views to the top of the adjacent landscape. No vista was left unloved.

Within such settings, a natural palette of materials is best suited to tie everything together. The darling material of most architects – polished concrete floors – is used on the ground floor, into which the architect added mirrored glass chippings so the floor twinkles in the sunlight, a reference to the sparkle of sunlight off the sea. External finishes are high quality, varied yet complementary. Zinc cladding, along with a mixture of oiled hardwood cladding to external soffits and black-stained larch cladding to the external walls, complete the picture. Back from the brink – and looking better than ever.

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  • Declan O'Donnell is an architect and founding partner of ODKM Architects, and occasional television presenter
  • Credits: DMVF Architects