Aside from a few post-modernist breakouts, architecture has been defined for generations by pure function. Attempts to recreate historic styles through 'pastiches' have been frowned upon by architects who believe such buildings indulge in unnecessary decoration.
The rest of us might like a bit of unneccesary decoration, but we frown upon them too - mostly because they tend to look like gack.
The stereotypical Celtic Tiger era 'Mac Mansion' is the poorly imitated Georgian country house with atomic white Upvc windows, Nazi grey render, plasticated door columns, five bedrooms, ten bathrooms and a brace of shirty looking cement eagles on the gateposts.
A period house imitation which truly looks and lives the part is a rarity because usually nobody has the cash to do it well and few are fastidious enough to persist with the intense detailing and research required.
Enter interior designer architect Rhona Roe, born into a four generations family of Dublin stonemasons (the Murphys of Murphystown) and a designer architect with a lifelong Georgian fetish.
In the mid-90s, she and her entrepreneur hubbie Ken were considering what to put on a family inherited site in Dublin's Kilternan. They had a fledgling family and Rhona (a Georgian enthusiast) was busy refurbishing and redesigning the interiors of important period buildings like the Shelbourne Hotel and Mount Juliet. She decided on a big Georgian tribute.
Roe, who today runs the design company Hedgeroe (see our interiors page), embarked on a campaign of research so intense that she even travelled to England to beg permission from the owners of Winslow Hall, one of the few houses designed by Christopher Wren, to be let study its chimney stacks. She designed and project managed Bishop's Vale for her family over nine months in 1999 and only a seasoned observer will know it's not 1799.
The house gives plenty of nods to Wren's Winslow and is also "an osmosis of everyday Dublin Georgian architecture". Through working on some of Ireland's most elaborate old Georgian era buildings she had craftsman contacts which also came good. The family stoneyards provided granite sills and quoins.
Bishop's Vale has hardwood windows in the correct style and a majestic portico to the front of the house looks like Portland but is actually formed of reconstituted stone. What she couldn't find, she designed and commissioned to a manufacturer.
The doors are solid mahogany and extra wide, the floors are solid oak cut in traditional broad board, the ceilings are 11 Georgian feet high and rooms and windows are all in proportion to the real thing. Arup acted as engineers, offering swiss watch precision and spec. She even hired a firm of plaster restorers from Belfast to create the elaborate detail on the ceilings to her own sketches. Salvage yards provided genuine articles for the finer details - fingerboards, locks and brass for the doors. A white marble period chimney piece was found for the drawingroom.
But the house is thoroughly modern too with the 'works' cleverly concealed. There's underfloor heating throughout and substantial insulation in foot-and-a-half-thick walls.
Now the family have flown their neo Georgian nest and the house is for sale at €3.9m. Six times the size of a semi, it has five huge bedrooms and an uber luxurious master suite. There's a drawing room with double doors to a dining room, a family room, home office, a wine cellar, a main hall, a library, french style kitchen, a huge attic room, a guest lodge, double garage, a massive master bedroom suite. And, by George, nine acres of gardens.