I titled this house Normal House as it represents a period for my practice of making work that appears to be drawing to a close. Since beginning to practice in 2013 I have enjoyed making domestic work at the lower end of construction costs; small interventional domestic project for young people of modest means. Much of this work has been on the north side of Dublin city. The early 20th Century terrace houses of the inner Dublin suburbs are particularly enjoyable to work with as they are relatively well built, composed of a mass concrete external envelope that allows new opes to be cut with relative ease, and free spanning timber floors that allow almost all internal walls to be pulled about. The older Victorian houses are more problematic, and budgets tend to get swallowed up in remedial work.
I suspect I will no longer continue to pursue this type of work , as in the last few instances it has proved more and more difficult to deliver projects on the the tight budgets that young people moving into the area have after purchasing the property. Between the rising cost of purchasing a property and the rising cost construction, there is little room for an additional spend on Architecture. We are now once again in an ‘abnormal’ market, and pessimistically it would appear that once again that Architecture is only for the well-off.
Normal House is straightforward. It extends to the side and rear of the house to provide a utility area, wc, and new kitchen. On the fist floor the extension crosses the back wall of the existing house to create two bay window study areas to the tiny existing bedrooms. The internal ground floor walls are removed and replaced with two large sliding partitions. The project began around the same time as a trip to London to visit the social housing of Neave Brown, and that inspiring trip greatly influenced the materials and layout of the house.
The extension is built in block and wrapped in external insulation. The use of external insulation allows some playfulness on the rear elevation where the layered depth of insulation is cut into to form recesses and the oblique angle on the rear facade. A high level roof light is shared between the utility and the kitchen at connecting corner.
Normal House was only made possible by an exceptional builder with a small team of highly skilled people who were capable of everything from the ground works to the tiling. Most importantly the Builder loved building; their hand is very much evident in the fine detailing of the project throughout. The project was a rare enough thing in that it ran smoothly, came in on budget and made everyone happy.