Heart-shaped hideaway in Killiney on the market for €995k
UCD architect put a lot of love into former Dublin family home
The story goes that architect Andrezej Wejchert designed UCD's Belfield campus at the kitchen table of his mother's apartment in Warsaw in 1964.At the time, he was a young and ambitious 26-year-old architect who had never even set foot in Ireland, never mind in Belfield, but he won the commission nevertheless, seeing off competition of 125 other entrants from 46 countries.
It was just the opportunity Wejchert needed to stretch his creative wings away from the constraints of communist Poland. He moved with his wife Danuta to Ireland and in 1974 they established A&D Wejchert & Partners, which swiftly became one of the most prominent and decorated architectural firms in the country.
Among their best-known commissions are Smithfield Village in Dublin, the Blanchardstown Centre, Aillwee Caves Visitors Centre in Clare, Naas General Hospital, the Helix in DCU, Newlands Cross Cemetery and the Apparition Chapel at Knock.
Having made Ireland their home, the Wejcherts paid a return visit to Poland in 1999 to collect the Best Public Building award for the Sobanski Palace in Warsaw's Old Town.
Wejchert's last project was the €11m new museum at Glasnevin Cemetery, which opened in 2010, the year after he died. Danuta died five years after him, in 2014.
In the early 1980s they found time to design and build their own family home at Balure Lane in Killiney, Co Dublin. And it's perhaps fitting that, in homage to such a long and successful partnership, the home they designed together has a vaguely heart-shaped footprint. It's romantic in other ways too, from its lush and secretive garden to its other-worldly living rooms and its spa.
They named it Carillon, although it bears no obvious resemblance to the contraption that shares its name. A carillon is a musical instrument usually found in a church tower, consisting of a sequence of bells struck by a clavier. There's only one in the Republic of Ireland: it's at St Colman's Cathedral in Cobh, where the resident carillonneur, Adrien Gebruers, has to climb 200 steps to reach his instrument.
This Carillon, by contrast, is low-lying and snuggled into its landscape. And it's quiet and peaceful too, suggestive more of the soft sound of pan pipes than of the cacophony of four dozen bells.
It's 2,422 sq ft in size and features a lot of exposed brick, wood panelling and glass. Way ahead of their time, the Wejcherts added solar panels to the roof too.
The main reception room on the ground floor is a split-level living room with exposed brick walls and a wooden ceiling. This room has built-in shelving and storage all over the place, including a drinks cabinet under the stairs, and there's an open fire and French doors to the garden.
There are a couple of steps leading up from here to a showpiece dining room, which has a double-height glass wall overlooking the garden. This room has a built-in table and benches - easily big enough to work on drawings for, say, a university campus.
Off the dining room is the kitchen which is fully fitted with dark wood cabinets and granite countertops. Though doubtless ergonomic, the kitchen is nevertheless an awkward shape, narrowing at one end to a door leading to the utility room. And although it's big enough to cook in, it's not quite big enough to show off in while cooking, so exhibitionist chefs will have to baste their egos in private. Either that or extend the kitchen.
Also opening from the dining room is the spa, which consists mainly of a five-metre swimming pool with a Jacuzzi and an automated cover. The spa also has a sauna and a Scottish shower, which is a thing that sprays hot and cold water alternately at you. You may have one in your home already, but the difference here is that it's done on purpose, for reasons of well-being rather than of indifferent plumbing.
The first floor has four bedrooms, including the master bedroom which has an ensuite shower room, built-in wardrobes and a study with a built-in desk.
Two of the other bedrooms have access to their own mezzanine levels, with skylights and views over the garden. The family bathroom is also on this level and there's a guest toilet off the entrance hall downstairs.
The house also includes a self-contained ground-floor annexe consisting of a kitchen, a bedroom and a shower room. This has its own entrance but it can't be accessed from inside the house, so if you want to reclaim the space, it will mean knocking a hole in one of the walls and then lying awake worrying about what the late architects would think of you.
Carillon is on a half acre of grounds, surrounded by mature ornamental trees including cherry blossoms, which will soon be coming into their own. There's a raised patio with a barbecue and a profusion of high and low planting separating areas of lawn, the whole creating an atmosphere of near-perfect seclusion.
Balure Lane is close to St Matthias Church. From there it's about a 25 minute walk to Killiney Dart Station and the coast, and less than five minutes by car to the N11. The asking price was recently reduced from €1.1m to €995,000.
Balure Lane, Killiney, Co Dublin
Asking price: €995,000
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald Dalkey (01) 2751000