4 weeks ago

Dublin Underground

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A Pair of Unique Houses is the Result of Six Years of Ingenuity and Archaeology …

Now home to perhaps Dublin’s most ingenious pair of houses, a parallelogram-shaped plot at John Dillon Street in the heart of the Liberties is part of the garden at the church of St Nicholas of Myra (aptly the patron saint of property owners as well as being Santa Claus). When the site came up for sale over a decade ago, architect Tom de Paor was approached to make a planning application on behalf of a consortium who wanted to sell it on with planning  he then decided, with Jay Bourke, to develop the plan himself resulting in the building of two unique houses – 0 and -1 John Dillon Street.

The address says it all – the houses are secreted from the streetscape of one-storey cottages behind a stone wall punctured only by a subtle sliding cedar panel.  As the plot was in the grounds of a listed cathedral, a lengthy excavation revealed 13 burial chambers and two unlined charnel pits and an archaeological dig uncovered artefacts and environmental material dating from the 13th century. With discoveries complete, two-storey shot-blasted concrete volumes were poured into the deep pit of a site, resulting in a pair of courtyard houses that are toplit – the living spaces are all about the sky. Street entry to the houses via the sliding cedar panel in a concrete niche in the stone wall is to a suspended half landing of No. 0, sister house to No. -1 next door. The eye is drawn in different directions: to bright living spaces on different levels, sliding glass panels revealing joinery made from recycled timber, to the communal roof terrace of blue marram grass designed and planted by Andrew Vickery, to expanses of marble – Carrera and Connemara – both inside and out, to the Harry Clarke stained glass window and the cupola of the church of St. Nicholas of Myra. This excavated world is all connected: internal partitions are glazed and slide, all floors, ends and tables are hardwood decks. Tom de Paor has achieved a fine balance between concealment and revelation, entertainment and retreat, between the old and the new.

The terrace, garden and top meadow courtyard with cast-iron steps over the skylight.

The table and sliding wall frame the garden. The turned plywood bowl is by Tony Cullen

The view to the Connemara-marble-lined Jacuzzi which is open to the elements.

The terrace and living room bathed in light from the south.

The master bedroom connects with the Jacuzzi and the second bedroom.

Shuttering holes in the concrete allow for hanging pictures. The white ottoman is by Antonio Citterio and the red Tempo table is by Prospero Rasulo.

The tokonoma above the entrance is a place for favoured things, in this case some soldiers in cast plaster and plastic, a found conch and a Chinese doll.

The burgundy recliner is by Jasper Morrison, the lamp by Achille Castiglioni.

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