It always seemed as if this 1929 detached house and garage had landed on this site from outer space. Seen from the road it made sense - as they fill the site to front - but to rear it meant the house seemed pushed into one corner of a garden that grew and grew the further from the road one went. We learnt the builder had deliberately squeezed other plots to enlarge his own, but he didn't take advantage of the result: we put right an 84 year old missed opportunity!
Our clients had been searching for a large, south-facing garden in Ranelagh for years, both for food and flower gardening and for family fun. They also wanted a very low energy retrofit extension. They jumped at the opportunity of purchasing this house when it came available. They approached us after being referred by several people, including other architects who were concerned they could not deliver the energy performance the clients wanted.
We extended the rear of the house on both floors by one metre: this made those rooms significantly larger yet ensured the traditional proportions still suited: this also allowed an opportunity to change window sizes and the perimeter floor and wall better. The extension is designed to re-orient the house to face the larger part of the garden and enjoy excellent solar gain. The rear open-plan room is on two levels with the kitchen (at the same level as the rest of the house) overlooking the tall family dining room which on one side has a large picture window with built-in window seat and on the other side curves asymmetrically with tall slit windows around a dining table.
It was important the fine features of the original house were preserved while the new areas were true to their era too. Cornices and picture rails were re-instated where removed for internal insulation and extended into the extended portion of the old rooms. In contrast the open plan room has recessed lighting at the wall ceiling junction instead. Salvaged mahogany parquet carefully re-laid ties both parts of the house together very successfully. Client and project architect worked together on the colour scheme and decor.
The original house has a brick cavity wall to front and (unexpectedly) rendered block cavity walls to the other sides. We've built the extension of low cost solid masonry, then filled the old cavity walls with bonded bead insulation, applied appropriate internal wall insulation to front wall and external wall insulation to the sides and rear of the extended house. The attic has been well insulated and new triple glazed windows installed. The ground floor has been remade of made up of salvaged parquet tiling on a concrete raft slab on 300mm EPS300. In addition the kitchen/dining family room has underfloor heating. These are the U-values achieved: front wall 0.23 W/sqm.K, side and rear walls 0.19 W/sqm.K, floor 0.11 W/sqm.K and roof 0.124W/sqmK. An impressive airtightness value has been achieved (2.5 M3/sqm.hr). As with the Monkstown EnerPHit house we installed a rainwater tank inside the thermal envelope to supply toilet cisterns and a washing machine, and a traditional rainwater butt (in garden) feeds a garden tap as well.
We wish the family many years of happy gardening and fun in their new home.