New Girls on the Block - The Gloss Magazine

New Girls on the Block

The work of this female-led design practice reflects what is valued in daily life …

Newmark Architects is a design practice established by Sinéad Bourke and Ciara Murray who believe that preserving, transforming and re-using our existing building stock in Ireland is going to become increasingly important in the future. Newmark has successfully completed projects on a number of protected structures in sensitive heritage environments around Dublin city and county. Bourke refers to how liberating it is to have a degree of insight into assessing and understanding “the bones” of an older property: “It can be daunting to see a structure laid bare unless you know how to unlock its potential.”

Newmark’s modus operandi is direct and collaborative from the start of every project.“It’s relatively simple to quickly scope out the architectural parameters of doing up a house and extending it, but we would do a client a disservice to design something that is unaffordable, however amazing it might be. Budget discussions must be to the fore and that way trust is built from the beginning.” With fear over building costs a key issue for most clients now, Newmark create card models of each project at an early stage and conduct a budget review pre-planning: “The client wants to know what their home will look like and what it will cost.” The architects agree that a big extension isn’t always the answer to lack of space. “There are economies in re-using existing spaces differently, or creating small additional spaces,” says Murray. Their philosophy and the quality of their finished projects have generated a lot of business via word of mouth. The first project they did together, Eden Villas, featured in the final of Home of the Year. Aired at the start of lockdown in April 2020, it led to a lot of positive exposure for the practice.

“Budget discussions must be to the fore and that way trust is built from the beginning.”

Having worked separately in award-winning practices, then leading their own practices individually, the women, both mothers of young children, committed to joining forces in 2018 after a number of successful mutually supportive interactions on specific projects. “We discovered we both believe good design can transform even the most challenging of places. We have complementary skillsets and we take pride in our design work, but also in our ability to interpret our clients’ requirements to unlock the potential of each individual home,” says Murray. Newmark (the name derived from Newmarket, Dublin 8 where their office is based) have a modern design aesthetic with an affinity for warm and tactile materials. They are connected to a network of trusted contractors and craftspeople, who also share their passion and commitment to quality.

Since the pandemic opened all our minds to the strengths and the shortcomings of the usability of our homes, Bourke and Murray are heartened by the desire expressed among clients in Ireland to improve the quality of the space they are in by using the skills of an architect. “Irish architects punch above their weight,” says Murray. “There’s a tactile aspect to our work that we have held on to and that is so relevant in how we want to live now.”

Above: A recent project by Newmark Architects, was included in the Irish Architecture Foundation’s Open House which ran last month. An example of the practice’s beautiful and considered work, the refurbishment and extension of a period cottage on the corner of a street in Portobello demonstrates how “collaboration between client and architects and the teasing out of what is valued in daily life” can be transformative. While the overall space is open plan, the living area sunk in the middle of the floor plan can be closed off, defining each of the ground floor rooms.


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