This extension, on a corner site on a quiet residential street in Dublin 6, is part of the great Dublin project all architects are engaged in to enhance and revitalize our old housing stock for living in.
As a composite and overlapping project this may be the greatest legacy we architects of the twentieth and twenty-first century bequeath back to the living city – the myriad of tiny fragmentary adjustments of fabric, piercing with light and drawing new spaces together, all over the dense urban tissue of Dublin.
The project floats a new singular roof plane over part of the rear of the site to create a sunken garden room enclosing a calm courtyard, proportioned on a golden section ratio. A rooflight over the steps to the new room – similarly proportioned – generates a diagonal conversation between open and closed spaces. Dissolving boundaries between inside and outside space and integrating living rooms with garden spaces by creating an undulating ground plane under a floating single plane, it reinforces the idea of the traditional Dublin type, the single storey villa with its ingenious split section. Here sectional elaboration continues, sinking the garden room and terrace below the hidden courtyard between old house and new, then raising the garden to its original level, to create volume and spaciousness as well as privacy and intimacy. This type – familiar all across the city with its careful projection of a modest gentility - flights of granite steps to the door, ‘good’ room to the front and split section behind sheltering the dense complexity of family life – is as familiar to our modern eyes walking through the city as it was to James Joyce, whose extended family inhabited houses of exactly this type on Fontenoy Street and Glengarrif Parade on the other side of the city.