We have recently been commissioned for a small residential project in one of Cork City’s Architectural Conservation Areas (ACA). Set in a beautiful row of well preserved Victorian Houses our brief is to transform an existing three storey house into a modern accessible 21st century home specifically for a client with special needs. On approaching any renovation project sympathetic consideration of the existing building and the context for any proposed intervention is critical. However in an ACA this focus is magnified and it is particularly important that any new addition compliments the historic importance of the existing. There are pitfalls and as architects we need to really lead the way in terms of showing our clients what is achievable. We have all seen the ‘pastiche’ & veneered attempts to create an exact replica of what already exists. Just think of Prince Charles brainchild Poundbury Estate which essentially replicated a picture postcard village from another era.
While many might find examples like this quaint & traditional it is so important that in an era where our housing needs are evolving rapidly we can respond with design solutions that are relevant, innovative but above all sustainable. Architects are in a privileged position to inform what becomes our built environment so we’re feeling a real sense of responsibility to really deliver a beautiful, sympathetic but innovative extension to this Victorian house. Integrating current building regulations in an old house also brings difficulties but we’re looking forward to ensuring this house is a perfect fit for our client’s special needs and exceeds their expectations. Ensuring the new addition is also on a par with the architectural quality of the existing house is also a must and we’re excited about the challenge. Transforming a 19th century building into a 21st century home will not be easy however but we have already convinced our clients of the value in pursuing a modern solution which stands apart from the old and doesn’t try to copy it. The key is to be bold, be confident and assured about the new addition and the results will speak for themselves. The following few examples are testament to that !