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‘The idea was that we would build a new street’ – Ambition abounds on Lucky Lane

The architect owners of houses in Stoneybatter not only came up with an innovative design for their own homes but dreamed up the rejuvenation of an entire lane

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Architect Philip Crowe who is assistant professor of Climate Responsive Design in UCD

Architect Philip Crowe who is assistant professor of Climate Responsive Design in UCD

The open-plan kitchen at Lucky Lane

The open-plan kitchen at Lucky Lane

Another view of the open-plan living area incorporating the living room

Another view of the open-plan living area incorporating the living room

The balcony at Lucky Lane

The balcony at Lucky Lane

A view of Lucky Lane and the steel front doors of the houses

A view of Lucky Lane and the steel front doors of the houses

A double bedroom with access to the courtyard

A double bedroom with access to the courtyard

The front entrance at Lucky Lane

The front entrance at Lucky Lane

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Architect Philip Crowe who is assistant professor of Climate Responsive Design in UCD

8 Lucky Lane, Stoneybatter, Dublin 7 Asking price: €595,000 Agent: MoveHome (01) 920 3894

Building a new house is one thing, but it takes serious ambition to create a new street. Particularly when that street is in the heart of Dublin city. But a lane in Stoneybatter may just hold the answer to the future of housing in the city.

Over 20 years ago, architects Philip Crowe and Peter Carroll, along with their friend Liz McLaren, bought an old, terraced house on Aughrim Street in Stoneybatter together. They renovated it and lived there until they all went their own separate ways.

Throughout this time, an idea was forming in the minds of Philip and Peter. They saw a way to make better use of the space around them and felt they could make a real difference to the way we build houses in the city. They eventually bought out Liz’s share, and also the neighbour’s garden, with great plans for the future.

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The open-plan kitchen at Lucky Lane

The open-plan kitchen at Lucky Lane

The open-plan kitchen at Lucky Lane

“The idea was that we would build a new street,” explains Philip. “We wanted to densify the city, getting more people living there while making more efficient use of [existing] infrastructure.”

The plan was to use the back of the houses on Aughrim Street to create a new road on the other side, down Lucky Lane, with the ultimate aim being to create a new typology that could be used elsewhere.

“We kept it simple so that it would be adaptable to other sites. But we also wanted to create a homogeneous street as opposed to the mews houses you see on the southside, where each one is different.”

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Another view of the open-plan living area incorporating the living room

Another view of the open-plan living area incorporating the living room

Another view of the open-plan living area incorporating the living room

In Victorian times, developers would have bought up different plots and built the houses with slight variations, but the result would be a street with houses that aren’t competing with each other, like the houses around Stoneybatter. This is what Philip and Peter wanted to achieve at Lucky Lane — they would come up with the plan and the hope was that others would buy sites on the road and copy their design. “It didn’t exactly work out like that, but it can still get there,” says Philip. “There are six built at the moment and another six have planning permission. Peter’s practice A2 Architects have done the plans for all of them.”

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The balcony at Lucky Lane

The balcony at Lucky Lane

The balcony at Lucky Lane

Philip and Peter started work on the first houses in 2008. No 8 is one of these original builds and is now for sale. This is Peter’s house and when he talks about it, he’s probably most proud of how energy efficient it is. “Air-sourced heat pumps are fairly old technology and would have been very commonplace in passive houses at the time. The one we have in the house works really well. It heats the underfloor heating on the ground floor and there are two small radiators upstairs and the house is always warm.

“The energy bills are really low...dishwasher, washing machine, working from home, heating, water — [costs] €170 a month [in winter] and down to about €45 in the summer. Even with rising prices, the house is still very efficient. It is also wired for solar panels if anyone wanted to go further. You could run the air-source heat pump off that a lot of the time.”

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A view of Lucky Lane and the steel front doors of the houses

A view of Lucky Lane and the steel front doors of the houses

A view of Lucky Lane and the steel front doors of the houses

When you approach No 8 from the lane outside, it’s hard to believe the level of architecture that lies ahead. The laneway still looks quite industrial so if you weren’t told, you wouldn’t guess there were residential units there. Once you open the huge steel door at the front, however, it’s like stepping into another world. It no longer feels like Dublin city, but more like New York or Paris. The inner courtyard, that can be used as a driveway if one was willing to take away from its beauty, showcases the property. The high brick wall to the side and glass from the ground to roof level is really quite breathtaking.

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A double bedroom with access to the courtyard

A double bedroom with access to the courtyard

A double bedroom with access to the courtyard

The courtyard leads into the entrance hall with polished Italian concrete flooring. The three bedrooms are on this ground-floor level, along with a utility room. The master is at the back with an ensuite bathroom. This shares the back courtyard with the second bedroom. There is a third double bedroom at the front, that is currently being used as an office. It has its own entrance from the front of the house through a sliding door so would be ideal for a therapy or consultation room.

The living space is upstairs and is completely open-plan. The kitchen units are to one side, with the dining and living area taking up the rest of the room, with a small space at the back of the kitchen for a desk. At each end of this large room is a balcony — one north-facing and the other south-facing so the room is always flooded with light. The brick walls are built all the way up to enclose the property.

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The front entrance at Lucky Lane

The front entrance at Lucky Lane

The front entrance at Lucky Lane

“The big enclosing walls protect from heat loss quite a bit because the wind isn’t able to whip the heat out, so it feels very protected and private,” says Philip. “You could do whatever you want in the house. There have been some great parties here. You also have some great views of chimneys and Aughrim Street church, but you never feel like anyone is looking in at you which is difficult to get in the city.”

The total floor area at No 8 is 1,184sq ft, which also includes a hidden shed in the front courtyard.

In the intervening years, Philip has since stepped back from architectural practice to move into academia. He is assistant professor of Climate Responsive Design in UCD and runs the masters course in Architecture Urbanism and Climate Action.

It’s clear that how we live is something that Philip is passionate about and he still believes that there is serious potential in the city to build using clever design, as seen on Lucky Lane. “This example of trying to make a new street is still consistent with what needs to be done in the city, now more than ever,” he says.

“Some people feel that they look like garages from the outside, but I think if you have the whole street built like that with planting around it, it would look really smart.”

The area will surely be a big attraction for buyers who are looking for a home close to the city in one of Dublin’s most sought-after addresses.

“Stoneybatter has changed quite a bit over the last few years,” says Philip. “The buzz about it is extraordinary. I’ve been up there a lot lately and I was having lunch in various different places and see that it has totally transformed since we first lived there.

“There’s such a refreshing energy about it. There’s space for cafes to spread out and it has that optimism that’s kind of infectious.

“The redevelopment of Grangegorman was also a game changer for the area. The connection from Constitution Hill through to Prussia Street makes the cycle up there so pleasant. It’s green, there are no cars and it’s so direct.”

The development of Lucky Lane might not be where Philip and Peter hoped it would be at this point, but it doesn’t mean it won’t get there.

Peter and his team at A2 Architects are still available to share the plans with interested parties and work with them through the process. Philip hopes that more people will come forward to help create this new street and that the Government will come up with ways to incentivise people to build low-carbon homes that he has played a part in creating.

“I would love to see 80pc of the plots developed so you get a homogeneous street that is logical and coherent, so I could cycle up there in the future and think that street contributes to the life of Stoneybatter and I was part of it.”

No 8 Lucky Lane is on the market through MoveHome Estate Agents with a guide price of €595,000.


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