Presenting a United Front

 

Highly Commended at the Irish Architecture Awards 2014

 

Offington Lawn,Sutton, Dublin 13

 

The challenge set in the brief was to convert a cold dark seventies bungalow into an accessible energy efficient light filled home for the clients, one of them a wheel chair user, and their young family.

 

The existing house required significant modification to make it comfortable both for a young family and a wheelchair user. This presented an opportunity to reverse the existing layout and take advantage the site’s orientation; the living spaces were re-located to the south and west whilst bedrooms and bathrooms were moved to the north and east

 

Floor space was added providing additional accommodation required by the active young family whilst also allowing generous space for comfortable wheelchair use throughout the house. Two extensions positioned to the front at the east and west ends of the existing house are built up hard against a building line established at the front with the space between forming a south facing courtyard which addresses the street.

 

Positioning the extensions to the front and sides of the existing house resulted from the clients’ desire to have a large secure play area at the rear of the house where young children could be easily monitored. The existing house with its large front garden was adequately set back from the street to accommodate this move and a building line was established across the site running from an adjacent garage on one side and a high level boundary wall on the other.

 

For privacy the courtyard was enclosed by a garden wall at the front creating a layered hierarchy of spaces from the public area on the street, to the semi-public front garden, through to the semi-private courtyard and culminating with the private interior.

The internal layout had to be fully accessible in a meaningful way. We worked closely with the clients to establish exact spatial requirements for everyday activities and to create bathrooms and a kitchen which did not have a specially adapted feel.

 

The existing house’s suspended timber floors were approximately half a meter above ground level. These floors were removed and a new floor level was established close to ground level to facilitate threshold free access from the outdoor spaces.

 

Generous circulation requirements coupled with the dropped floor level resulted in a spatial quality you wouldn’t normally associate with a house of this type. The ceilings along the southerly portion of the existing house were also raised creating double height spaces in the newly positioned living areas. These spaces are filled with light from south facing roof lights over which also play a vital role in the natural ventilation strategy throughout the summer months.

 

The fabric of the house is super insulated; insulated floors run through the extensions into the existing house, exterior walls are wrapped with external wall insulation whilst the roofs incorporate warm deck insulation throughout. Cold bridging is eliminated throughout by robust detailing; the EWI system is taken up and over the parapets to meet with the flat roof insulation, alu-clad external doors and windows are positioned within the thermal envelope of the wall insulation and existing soffits and gable overhangs have been cut back to facilitate the continuity of wall and roof insulation in the existing house.

 

Technologies and construction methodologies including solar water heating, a condensing boiler, smart heating controls, wood burning stoves with external combustion air feeds, air tight construction and heat recovery ventilation helped achieve a BER rating of B1 which represents a significant improvement on the original F rating.

 

This project was featured in the following publications:

 

Architectural Review Vol. 5 - please click here to view

 

Architecture Ireland Issue 277 - please click here to view

 

Sunday Times supplement - please click to here view 

 

photos by Isabelle Coyle Photography