Wednesday 25 April 2018

Going International in Raheny

Ardmore is a unique 1930s modern-style house on offer in D5

The international exterior of Ardmore
The international exterior of Ardmore
The renovated property at 656
One of the double bedrooms of 564 Ardmore
The kitchen of 564 Ardmore
The living room of 564 Ardmore
Mark Keenan

Mark Keenan

Ireland may have been in the gutter in the 1930s but some Irish home designers and builders were looking at the stars. The grim decade was characterised by grinding poverty as De Valera embarked on a misguided quest for inward-looking economic self sufficiency.

A trade war raged with Britain, during which our most lucrative exports were blocked from our largest market and, globally, we experienced the fallout from the Great Depression across the world.

But amidst the economic gloom, a scheme of homes was launched on the Howth Road in Raheny, Dublin, which truly dazzled the city populace. And it continues to fascinate them today.

Constructed in the bright and shining international modern style, the homes were 'poured' rather than built - in concrete moulds. The wonder material of its day allowed curved smooth contours and robust solidity and is still favoured by architects designing one-off contemporary homes today.

The windows were framed in svelte engineered steel. To the house-buying public of the 1930s, they must have looked like science fiction.

Sadly the identity of the architect responsible appears to be lost - neither the Irish Architectural Archive nor a number of knowledgeable Irish practitioners could shed any light on who came up with this grand scheme for Raheny at a time when architects like Michael Scott and Noel Moffett were also introducing exciting new ideas through building design in De Valera's Ireland.

Architect Eoghan Garland felt privileged when called upon to renovate No 656 a few years ago. "It was really interesting to see how these houses were put together. The poured concrete meant they didn't degrade at all, they're still as solid as they ever were.

"When we were working on it, there was a huge amount of interest from other architects who wanted to know all about them. Aside from the mass concrete walls, you have a flat roof, a rounded stairwell with a projecting portico and metal frame window construction.

"There was some super attention to detail, including lovely internal bullnose joinery features - the original designers had really thought it all out."

Now a few doors down Ardmore, No 654, has been placed on the market. While the agents describe it as "art deco" and many would tend to describe it thus, it is strictly International Style.

While the style began developing in the 1920s, it was officially defined at the 1932 exhibition curated in New York by Henry Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson, and entitled Modern Architecture - International Exhibition.

The then new style was characterised by smooth clean surfaces devoid of decoration, the use of cantilever construction, and copious amounts of glass and steel.

This four-bedroom home shows many of the original features from the 1930s, including the double doors between reception rooms characterised by stacked framed-glass panels. There's the tubular stairwell atrium from the hall with its long strip window and the neat squat-style marine windows.

Ardmore is significantly larger than an average family home at almost 1,400 sq ft, excluding the garage space to the side - and this could be converted into further residential accommodation quite easily.

The fourth bedroom - added overhead since the house was originally constructed - is an option that many owners of these unusual properties have plumped for. The entrance hall has a solid-oak wood floor and there's a guest WC here along with under-stairs storage.

The living room has an open fireplace with the aforementioned doubled doors leading into the dining room, itself fitted with oak floors and a gas fire. There's a rear door from here to the garden.

The kitchen was redone recently in clean white units with a matching white tiled floor. Upstairs the master bedroom has an ensuite and built-in timber wardrobes in the style of the era. There's an ensuite located off it with underfloor heating to save your feet from cold tiles in the mornings.

The second bedroom has built-in wardrobes and the third opens into the tubular form at the front of the property. The fourth bedroom is also double sized. To the front, the gardens are a full 17m long.

Ardmore is located within walking distance of Raheny Village as well as the Dart station.

St Anne's Park is within reach as well as the sea-front running through Clontarf.

Ardmore has been equipped with extra wall and roof insulation, and there's planning permission for a two-storey extension, which should be carried out in line with the existing historical style of this home.

Ardmore 654 Howth Road, Raheny, Dublin 5

Asking price: €695,000

Agent: Savills (01) 8530630

Indo Property

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