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Friday18 August 2017

Technical study: Larkfield Road, Dublin

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Tom de Paor has created an expansive network of interconnected spaces next to an end-of-terrace property in south Dublin, writes Hugh Strange

Numerous doors allow a multiplicity of connections between the various spaces

Source: Joseph Carr

Numerous doors allow a multiplicity of connections between the various spaces

Project Larkfield Road
Architect Tom de Paor
Location Dublin

Built in the 1930s as part of a garden city development to the south of Dublin, the houses along Larkfield Road were, though disguised by a coating of pebbledash, constructed wholly in mass concrete. The extension that Tom de Paor has recently completed to an end of terrace property on the street counterpoints the compact solidity of the existing building with a timber-framed structure that establishes an open and expansive network of interconnecting spaces.

The existing two-storey house has been wholly given over to the family’s bedrooms and bathrooms, with the parents on the ground floor and the children upstairs. To the rear of this, the new structure extends backwards, in one form or another covering the entire site. Passing to the side of the old building one enters the house via a new entrance space that connects the two structures. This generous hallway leads through to the primary spaces of the house: a living room and, further back, a kitchen / dining room opening out onto the garden.

Next to and between these two rooms are a series of smaller spaces, notably two compact inner courtyards, but also a lobby, shower room, utility room and WC. Numerous doors allow a multiplicity of connections between the various spaces, but also a capacity for the house to close down and suggest adjacent and interconnecting rooms, or open up and provide a single, open and perforated territory. At the back of the site a rear garden, housing a pond, pergola and constructed planting beds, suggests a continuation of the new structure all the way through to the end wall.

The gravelled garden acts as an extension to the house

Source: Joseph Carr

The gravelled garden acts as an extension to the house

A series of stepped forms in concrete blockwork punctuate the space

Source: Joseph Carr

A series of stepped forms in concrete blockwork punctuate the space

The impression of a series of interconnecting internal and external spaces is to a great extent formed by the repetitive structural frame, which allows an open spatial character.

Five floor-to-ceiling, factory-made glulam trusses span the space, providing the primary structure, with vertical posts interspersing the space. A ground and polished concrete screed forms the floor throughout, with the doors, posts and thresholds all constructed in ebonised hardwood. Above these the ceiling and the top section of wall are clad in birch plywood. The join of wall and ceiling is beaded with timber, and the junctions between the plywood wall panels are covered by ply slips. This detail is mirrored on the external cladding where hardwood cover strips lap the joins between ebony stained MDF panels. Throughout, the sense is of practical issues of tolerance having been developed to form a coherent constructional language.

Floors are in polished concrete and ceiling and the tops of walls are clad in birch plywood

Source: Joseph Carr

Floors are in polished concrete and ceiling and the tops of walls are clad in birch plywood

Built from concrete blockwork, a series of figurative elements punctuates the space. These complex, stepping forms comprise screen walls in the two larger rooms that each incorporate hearths and chimneys, with two other configurations forming external stores next to the entrance and a kitchen island. Unpainted and with bag-rubbed joints, the blocks have a heavy roughness at odds with the delicate refinement of the timber enclosure. Articulating the journey through the space of the house, creating diagonal routes and lines of view, these masonry elements playfully disrupt the regular order of the frame and puncture the rigour of the grid.

Larkield Road roof detail

Click on the image above to enlarge

Larkfield Road plan

Click on the image above to enlarge

Project team

Project architect Anna Hofheinz
Structural engineer Casey O’Rourke Associates
Main contractor Marvel Restoratio

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