Life Homes

Friday 21 October 2016

Gleaming 'White House' in Dalkey could be yours for €1.75m

Published 05/06/2015 | 02:30

The White House in Dalkey is thought to be the creation of flamboyant Irish architect Michael Scott
The White House in Dalkey is thought to be the creation of flamboyant Irish architect Michael Scott

Perched high on a granite outcrop above Knocknacree Road in Dalkey, Co Dublin, is The White House - a distinctive, bright and swept abode which has been attributed to Michael Scott, reckoned by many to be the greatest Irish architect of the 20th Century.

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Records have yet to prove that the White House, estimated to have been built in 1938, is for definite one of the great master's Irish creations in the contemporary international style for which he is famous, but it certainly has many of his most vital touches.

The luxury bathroom of Dalkey property
The luxury bathroom of Dalkey property

Drogheda-born Michael Scott was not only a self-taught architect, but also an artist and an actor at the Abbey School. His works include Busáras and the Shamrock-shaped Irish Pavillion at the 1939 World Fair in New York. But he is also a controversial figure. For an architect, he was a dapper, flamboyant socialite and a bon viveur, and he knew how to mix it up in high society and in political circles for professional gain.

Scott has also been described as a great self-publicist, an impresario of big projects, a master schmoozer and charmer who could mingle with the powerful to land big commissions - the man who had the connections to drum up the business while his talented partners Robin Walker and Ronnie Tallon got on with the detail. Through the 1960s and 1970s this "supergroup" of design turned out many of Ireland's seminal modern buildings including key buildings in RTÉ and UCD.

The decking area of The White House on Knocknacree Road in Dalkey, Co Dublin.
The decking area of The White House on Knocknacree Road in Dalkey, Co Dublin.
The balcony of The White House on Knocknacree Road in Dalkey, Co Dublin.
The large reception area of The White House

Scott had his critics. Bruce Arnold once wrote: "Artist, actor, architect, designer, Michael Scott invented the idea that Ireland was visually illiterate - which was nonsense - and that he introduced Modernism, which also was nonsense. Ireland had 'Fauves' in 1906, Cubists before the 1920s, Abstract painters 10 years before England, Irish Surrealists and Expressionists in the 1930s, and then came Michael Scott to 'discover' it all."

Whatever was said about him, most agree that Scott was a game-changing tour de force. Scott hallmarks at the White House include the sweeping maritime lines and cruise ship style balcony rails. The latter were also a feature at Geragh, his own private residence in Sandycove which caused a big stir when it was completed in 1937, a year before The White House.

The attribution lines become blurred because juniors at Scott's practice often completed work in his style and under his influence. So did those who worked with him and then moved on. Other architects looked at Geragh and simply copied its features. And Scott himself was thought to have carried out informal work for his friends.

And the national architectural archives show that another international style convert, Brendan O'Connor, is recorded as having designed and built a home on Knocknacree Road in 1938.

Storage area leading in to the bathroom
Storage area leading in to the bathroom

"It all raises the interesting argument: does a house have to have been sketched out and supervised by Scott himself in order to be attributed to him?" asks Mark Curran, a director of Smyth Kennedy Architects which undertook the revamp and extension at The White House back in 2009.

Following this extensive upgrade which also added a distinctive jutting extension - this house looks like it might have been designed and built yesterday. Smyth Kennedy also discovered that it is built entirely of poured concrete, the material favoured by Scott and rendering this house near-on indestructible.

The 2009 works greatly extended the house under strict supervision from the local authority concerned that the integrity of this significant home be maintained at all costs. The extension houses a bedroom and bathroom on the lower ground level with a livingroom, diningroom and kitchen spaces upstairs as well as a bridge link to the original house. The work also set about providing an outdoor deck, no small task on an outcrop of solid Dalkey granite and some blasting was required.

The house includes a reception hall and a rear hall, the former with a tiled floor and both lit by uplighters. The third bedroom is down here and has some pretty amazing sea views. Many rooms including the kitchen have an unprecedented vista of Dublin Bay, one of the factors which will generate interest in this property which is expected to be placed on the market later this summer.

The Binova kitchen
The Binova kitchen

There's a bathroom with a free-standing bath, tiled floor and mirrored wall with downlighting. Outside the split level timber deck is supported on steel frames with steps down to gravelled areas.

The upper floor has the vast open plan livingroom with a polished oak floor and a maritime door to the substantial balcony space which looks down over Dun Laoghaire and out to sea.

There's a tv room, a sittingroom and Binova kitchen with tiled floor, high gloss finished and silestone counter tops. From here an arch leads through to the dining room which comes with polished timber floors and a sliding French door/window with a sea view to Howth. Agent Vinnie Finnegan would not be drawn on price but experts reckon a unique 1930s property like this one could fetch circa €1.75m on a good day.

The White House

Knocknacree Road, Dalkey, Co Dublin

Estimated Value: Circa €1.75m

Agent: Vinnie Finnegan (01) 2984695

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