An Aluminium Clad property in Grangegorman in North County Dublin which is owned by bike enthusiast Alec Darragh has received a lot of attention in recent times thanks to its appearance on the RTÉ show ‘Home of the Year,’ where it made quite an impression on the shows judges Declan O’Donnell, Deirdre Whelan and Hugh Wallace. The property was designed by the Founder and Creative Director of ODOS Architects, David O’Shea. The building is essentially two living plates over a workshop connected by a vertical service and circulation core. The breakup of the buildings main elements defined in elevation by the horizontal structural lines, help to identify the structure and functions contained behind. Mr Darragh had originally planned on building a garage but he ended up making the decision to build an entire house.
“Alec is serious bike enthusiast and he would be interested in both bikes and motorbikes. It was to be considered within the brief (when it came to us designing the house) that he wanted his bike and motorbike collection to be housed within the building,” explained David O’Shea as to the design concept behind the house.
“When building the house we kind of built the living room around the bikes and it had to be on the ground floor obviously to get them in and out off the street, he also wanted his office in amongst his bikes as well so there is this sense of him and his bikes and there is also this lovely courtyard at the back of the house which is very nice.
The building profile is further strengthened with a deliberately weighted treatment to the openings at first and ground floor level adding to the aura of secrecy as to what’s contained within. An external terrace area has been provided at the front section of the upper floor, increasing the visual and physical depth of the open plan living accommodation. This is further emphasised by the full height frameless fixed glazing sections, visible on the front and rear elevations. The external screen to the deck area has been fabricated using vertical aluminium fins to match the satin-anodised aluminium cladding to the fixed and opening sections below. The irregular spacing of these fins gives this screen a semi-transparent appearance, particularly when viewed from a westerly direction and during the evening when it is illuminated from behind. This reduces the perceived bulk of the building, depending on the viewers position and alters the appearance of the structure over a twenty four hour period. The elevations become more transparent as you move from the ground floor up terminating in the upper floor external terrace.
“The pivot doors open out so you can actually open the whole house out which is handy for him as he rides the bikes in and out. Basically it was about creating two additional floors above the garage. The middle floor is where the bedrooms are and the top floor which has the best views across the city and out over the old Grangegorman Hospital are home to the living area,” added Mr O’Shea. The home is inviting, encouraging visitors to climb up a bright, light-filled wooden staircase lined with book shelves upon entering the house. A key feature of the home is its floor to ceiling length windows, which allow the sun to pour into the bedrooms and living area. On the top floor, there are a lot of simple materials and timber flooring used to create a modern kitchen. The kitchen overlooks both the front and the back of the property and a wood-burning stove proves to be the focus of the minimalist space.
“It’s a very simple three storey town-house and we thought it was fitting that it would be made of metal because obviously he is a biker enthusiast and we felt that the materiality of the house should be in keeping with that biker feel,” enthused David. “The grilles on the top of the property form one part of the court yard off of the living room and they resemble the grilles of an engine so it has the look and feel of a mechanical house. Alec has great style and a nice collection of collectables that enhance the property. The house has a warm interior and it is very nice,” said Mr O’Shea as he went on to explain the design process. The building is entered under a canopy, which extends internally to create a ‘suppressed’ area inside the front door, emphasising a triple height stairwell beyond. This circulation volume extends down to the ground floor providing access to the lower garage area, the walled back garden behind and the paved front garden facing the street. The enclosed back garden to the rear of the property, is seen as a landscaped courtyard which opens directly into the ground floor volume and is partially sheltered by the cantilevered structure above.
“The house was on-site for about 10 months, Alec lived in the house next door and he bought the site beside his old house and then we started building. It was an easy build and there were no problems encountered along the way. Whilst the house is clad in aluminium it is a very warm and highly insulated house. All of the panels on the outside of the property are highly insulated and there isn’t a problem with the insulation given that the house is metal. The house functions like any other house it just looks a bit cooler. The house would be an A3 standard property. The windows are double-glazed, there is plasterboard used just like normal buildings and the doors are all full height, solid wooden doors, iron mongery was also used,” he explained.
“Alec saw his house as a portfolio piece because it’s like his bikes and his art. He wanted to invest in good value as well as investing in a collectable piece that is like one of his bikes and he was just interested in something different and something unique that no one else had and that is where these types of houses come from. “The home owners see it as a chance for them to build something unique which is wonderful for us,” concluded David O’Shea.