The high-end refurbishment and extension done to a 1950’s cottage in Dalkey by Mark Arigho of Arigho Larmour Wheeler Architects in the space of more than 18 months is nothing but breathtaking.
Mr Arigho’s clients brief which was to refurbish and extend their cottage whilst making a new kitchen, living and dining space along with a workshop and an artist’s studio all within the parameters of exempted development which limited the heights of the eaves and removed the need to apply for planning permission.
“The way the cottage looks is the pragmatic reaction to the space constraints and the planning restrictions on it. The clients didn’t want to go for planning permission because they just wanted to build something that was exempt so that really informed the design,” said Mark Arigho. “The roof and where the eaves were had to line up with the existing eaves and the existing gutter and everything really sprung from there. The roof is basically a vaulted roof which springs up on the inside. We couldn’t put a slate on the roof because it was too low so a zinc clad asymmetrical pyramid roof with the top removed to allow light to enter into the house was the obvious decision.
“This property isn’t a million miles away from Dalkey Village. It is down a private road off one of the main roads leading into Dalkey and there are only about 10 houses in this little enclave so the property is tucked away in the middle of Dalkey but as it happens the property has some stunning views over Dalkey Island and the sea because the site looks to the East and also to the South,” added Mr Arigho.
Upon entering the house a splayed wall of storage pivots, leading you down the hall and ushering you into the newly configured open plan living space. The kitchen sits in the heart of the house, lit by a roof light above.
“We got the call from the client’s back in 2015 where by they had just bought the house and they were living in rented accommodation and they wanted to get working on the house quickly enough so as they could start living in it,” he enthused.
“The project was done in two phases and the first phase of the project was to only refurbish the existing cottage and the second phase was to build the extension so we actually designed the whole project as one but so as it could be done in two phases. In the design it was agreed that we would maintain the existing cottage as much as possible and then extend at the back of the property as soon as we possibly could.
“We did the initial refurbishment, we stripped out all of the finishes and we insulated the house, we redesigned the bedrooms and the bathrooms and the second phase kicked in about six months after they moved in. We went back to the drawing board to detail the design. The project took about 18 months to complete,” explained Mark.
“When you enter a house a lot of the time you’re walking into a dark corridor because the plan is cellular so it rotates around central access and the staircase which is off that. With this property we could have made a rear view right through to the garden if they wanted to but a lot of accommodation would have been lost so we added a couple of skylights.
“One of the skylights faces South above the stairwell so when you enter the property what is in front of you is a very bright hall with an angled wall which kind of pivots you into the kitchen, living and dining area and that opens up the whole thing and everything opens up after that. Then you are met with the view to the East and to the sea and then as you progress through you’ve got this vaulted ceiling and then the view to the South and to Dalkey Island,” added Mr Arigho.
Upstairs there is a master bedroom and a bathroom. There are two children’s bedrooms downstairs as well as the main bathroom and a living space that is separate from the rest.
“One of the decisions we took was to leave the living room at the front of the house alone as it gets the West light and it is separate to the open place space (the kitchen and living area). Potentially we thought we might join these spaces up but actually it works much better as a separate private space. The plan for the house is quite simple and it is not a whole lot different to what was there originally,” explained Mark.
“You access the house at the centre and then there is a little bit of magic in the middle of the hallway where there is a new roof-light and the wall is pivoted so that pushes you into the extension and that is where it is completely modern as you’ve left the 1950’s workers cottage and you’ve come into a really contemporary, modern space.
“It was about keeping things simple within this project as well as keeping the palette of materials simple down to polished concrete or perm-washed concrete, white walls, a zinc roof and keeping it really clean,” he said.
The first phase of the cottage was dry-lined with XtraTherm dry-lining on the outside and with the new build a concrete block was used alongside an insulated render.
“It’s a Webber system, the insulation sticks directly to the block work and then there is a mesh and render system which is coloured on the outside. There is rendered insulation used on the angled wall of the extension.
“The glazing is South facing so in order for the living space not to overheat, the roof of the extension pushes out slightly and you have an overhang to stop any overheating.
As to any problems encountered throughout the build?
“We used extra steel in the joices in the bedroom upstairs to strengthen up the joices because we found that the floor joices were incredibly springy up there from where someone had converted up there before,” explained Mark.
“When you’re building in Dalkey you are always afraid of hitting a load of rock or granite and we did encounter that. Thankfully it wasn’t lots of rock boulders, it was a huge big rock formation so we could actually cast the foundations on to it, what potentially could have been a problem turned out to be a bonus in that we could cast directly on to the formation that was there.
“The tricky thing with this job was the two phases and the private road as we were trying to keep the neighbours happy. It is a quiet, private road so it was a real challenge to constantly engage with the neighbours. It was a really tight site and it was sort of under the microscope a little bit because of the small community down there as well,” concluded Mark Arigho.