Thursday 19 September 2019

Edwardian house gets a touch of CGI thanks to designers from Eastern Europe

Eastern European designers linked with Dublin architects to create an unreal pad in Blackrock

The lounge with chaise longue
The lounge with chaise longue
The virtual dining room leading to a living room
Davil Hallo
Viki Gyarmati
Levente Redecky
A double bedroom
The kitchen
Main bathroom with claw-foot tub
The well-lit study
The garden area gets the VR treatment too
A virtual floor plan
Unfinished room with a fireplace
The exterior of no 58
Another room part unfinished
Unfinished reception with double doors
Mark Keenan

Mark Keenan

Our long time EU membership and resulting relationships have taught us that great things often come from trans European co-operation between skilled professionals working together in different countries. In the case of an elegant double-fronted Edwardian house at 58 Carysfort Avenue in Blackrock, its transformation from run-down project house to super chic boutique pad near south Dublin's waterfront, took just three months to complete.

The plan to transform the property had already been drawn up by Paul Sinnott of the well-known Stewart and Sinnott Studio Architects, (known for the televised contributions of its other partner Duncan Stewart). Its client had acquired the house almost 20 years ago and had always intended making it into a private family home. In the interim he rented out the property. Last year he got to grips with the project and commissioned Sinnott to come up with detailed plans for the run-down home's full transformation. Earlier this year the builders got stuck in, stripping out the old fittings and pulling out perished ceiling areas.

But circumstances have since changed and the decision was taken to put the property on the market. However, it would be a bad idea to bring the house to market without potential buyers realising how perfect this finished project would be. With a three-month run in for hitting the Easter sale season, some very fast moving but also intricate and intensive work was going to be required.

Estate agent Jana Keane of Keane Thompson, who was appointed by the owner to sell the property, also happens to be an interiors consultant for her clients. She set about sourcing the sort of Edwardian modern furniture online that would give the intended finished look that the owner intended. After unsuccessfully seeking specialist help here in Ireland, the decision was made to call Levente Redecky, owner of Archend in New Castle, Slovakia, who agreed both to take on the job and get it done within three months. Here are the pictured results of Levente and his team's three-month slog, helped by Jana Keane's supplied furnishings which she sourced online here in Ireland and from all over the world.

The kitchen
The kitchen

So take another look at most of the pictures above and scrutinise them carefully. Do you notice anything strange? Before you read on, go back and look at them again more carefully for anything odd or unusual in the details of this home's rapid makeover.

If you're particularly observant you might have twigged on second or third glance that these are all CGI creations (computer-generated imaging). If you're extra sharp (or work in VR or 3D computer visuals) there's a chance that you might have got it on first perusal. Given the quality of the creations, most of us are likely to have been April fooled by them.

What you are looking at is the future of marketing for homes in need of renovation, particularly high-end projects. The images reproduced here cost circa €3,000 to create and have been based in turn on intricate architect drawings for the renovation produced for No58 by Sinnott and Stewart Studio Architects.

The combined productions were then lavishly 'interior designed' by Jana Keane using photos taken of relevant furnishings for a 'modern' Edwardian home online, from the classy chaise longue, the wall prints and the neat little model ship in the drawing room, to the dining set and mirror in the dining room. All are real items of furniture and many can be acquired to order.

The 3D imagers in Slovakia took all the 'furnishing' provided by emailed online snapshots and downloads and blended them carefully into the images, to produce our virtual fully-furnished home.

In reality, the renovation project was parked and the Edwardian house at 58 Carysfort Avenue is still part way through its refit and refurbishment. The photos at the end of our gallery show its current condition. But now at least, potential buyers who want to pick up where the owner left off, have ultra clear pictures of where their project is headed.

The exterior of no 58
The exterior of no 58

"I've run my own estate agency since 2007 and have consistently found that many would-be buyers or homes in need of renovation just aren't equipped to see beyond a property's run-down state at the time of sale, even if the work is already done on the renovation plans as with the plans from Sinnott and Stewart Studio which come with this property," says Jana Keane.

"At the moment, with builders' prices running so high, it's become even more difficult to see beyond the cracks and imperfections of a pre-worked project.

"A buyer of this particular Edwardian house in Blackrock - and it's asking €795,000 - would have to spend another €350,000 to €400,000 getting it to the condition that we see in these incredibly real CGI pictures. What these very elaborate pictures show buyers is exactly what they'll end up with for an outlay of €1.2m. In fact they'll get a home of a type that usually costs €1.5m on this road and one, which I believe, offers them far more than the sort of brand new home currently being offered at roughly that price level. Nothing gets this across better than these images."

While CGI and VR have been with us for years (decades it could be argued), and have long been used to sell property, especially in the new homes market, the quality of what's possible has improved startlingly of late and this hasn't been reflected in what's available in Ireland.

The leaps VR and CGI have taken can be experienced through the latest generation of hyper-real computer games like Last of Us 2 which makes living room sofa sitting combat frighteningly real. And also the sort of startling realistic but artificially created fare being showcased on Netflix right now through the (largely) CGI animated series of film shorts, Love, Sex, Robots.

When Jana Keane went to look for next generation CGI of the quality she and her vendor required, they found that Irish specialists just couldn't cut it, at least for a price that was also realistic.

The virtual dining room leading to a living room
The virtual dining room leading to a living room

"We tried three or four firms known for their quality of work in architectural recreation but none of them could do it to the standard we wanted. So I went online and I found Levente in Slovakia."

Levente Redecky runs a small architectual visuals firm Archend Visuals and 3D Architectural in New Castle Slovakia. He and his team of architectural visualisers David Hallo and Vikki Gyarmati were sent the drawings from Sinnott and Stewart and then a stream of photo contributions of furnishings and furniture from Jana. The work took three months and is now showcased on their website, reflective perhaps of the effort involved.

Levente says: "Thanks to the internet era there is no need to visit our headquarters as the communication happens through emails and phone calls from the comfort of your home/office.

"We are focused on producing realistic CGIs/architectural visualizations for property developers, architectural offices, investors and real estate agents. Our images are primarily used for banners, brochures, selling off-plan, submitting alongside planning applications and marketing overall."

However, it would be unusual for Archend to supply such high-level work for a single home renovation.

No58 is a classic Edwardian double fronted home of the sort suited for modern living. More so perhaps given that is unusually not listed for any form of protection, giving new owners a freer hand in its renovations and particularly in the installation of insulation and heat protecting windows. At over 2,000 sq ft, the house has a hall, a front reception with shutters and fireplace, a second reception with a door to the rear garden, a third wth cast-iron fireplace, white plantation shutters, ceiling coving and a rose centrepiece. There's a kitchen with a door to the rear garden and two bathrooms.

The first floor return has a third bathroom while the upper floor comes with three receptions with original full length double doors. There's a stairs leading to the top floor. There's a a 33 ft garden to the rear with a detached block building backing on to Blackrock Hospice. The plans remake it as a four bedroom home.

The CGI images are displayed in all rooms for viewers to peruse. For those prepared to finish the job, they really do represent the home of the future.

No58 is on view 11-11.30am tomorrow.

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