Domesticity at the Crossroads: Irish Housing Design 1955 – 1980.

Session Chairs: Gary A. Boyd, Michael Pike and Brian Ward.  

Gary A. Boyd is Reader in Architecture at Queen’s University, Belfast. His publications include Dublin 1745-1922: Hospital, Spectacle and Vice (Four Courts, 2006) and Ordnance: War + Architecture & Space edited with Denis Linehan (Ashgate, 2012). A former editor of building material: the journal of the Architectural Association of Ireland, Dr Boyd was also a founding member of the architects’ and teachers’ collective GLAS: Glasgow Letters on Architecture and Space. In 2013, he co-curated Folly: Art after Architecture exhibition at the Glucksman Gallery, Cork, and was appointed co-commissioner/curator of the Irish pavilion for the 14th Architectural Biennale, Venice 2014. He co-edited (with John McLaughlin) Infrastructure and the Architecture of Modernity in Ireland 1916-2016.

Michael Pike is an architect and studio lecturer in Architecture at University College Dublin where he directs the M.Arch Thesis Programme . In 2003, he formed GKMP Architects with Grace Keeley. Their work has received a number of awards and has been published and exhibited internationally. His writing on the housing projects of J. A. Coderch has been published internationally and he is currently pursuing in to the relationship between the drawing and the building process in the design on housing.

Brian Ward is a Lecturer at the Dublin School of Architecture, DIT. Previously a practicing architect, he has conducted doctoral research on town planning in Dublin during 1914. This has resulted in the publication of two chapters: ‘Poets, Tramps and a Town Planner, A Survey of Raymond Unwin’s on-site persona’ in Writing the Modern City (Routledge, 2012) and ‘Homogenic Love in the City, CR Ashbee’s New Dublin’ in Peripheries (Routledge, 2013). Dr Ward also contributed a chapter to Infrastructure and the Architectures of Modernity in Ireland (Ashgate, 2015). Between 2005 and 2007 he was editor of building material, the journal of the Architectural Association of Ireland.


Neil Hegarty, Dundanion Court, Cork, 1968.

Sarah Mulrooney, Cork Centre for Architectural Education.

This paper explores the evolution of Neil Hegarty’s Dundanion Court in Cork, examining the varied influences on the project, from the architect’s education at the Crawford School of Art in Cork and at Oxford, to his travels in the US, where he saw the housing schemes of Mies van der Rohe and I.M. Pei. Following these experiences, a unique set of circumstances resulted in the building of Dundanion. The architect’s father was a contractor who agreed to build the project. A visionary solicitor drew up a lease, which included ideas for how each household could be an integral part of this courtyard scheme.

The site of over two acres had been cut off from the lands surrounding Thomas Deane’s Dundanion House by the construction of the Blackrock and Passage railway and it was available to lease at an affordable rate. Working with the existing topography and site features, Hegarty planned two landscaped courtyards, separated from vehicular traffic and including original trees from Dundanion House. Completed in 1968, the scheme comprised of thirty-six flat-roofed four-bedroom houses, with separate garages. Working with his father’s firm, Hegarty used innovative construction techniques: yellow concrete brickwork formed the party walls, which were infilled with areas of floor to ceiling glazing and horizontal cedar sheeting.

Almost fifty years since its 1968 completion, the author has interviewed some of the first residents of Dundanion, including Neil Hegarty and his family. By studying the architect’s original files, together with her first hand experience of living at Dundanion Court, the author has begun to assemble the story of this progressive housing scheme. With its recent designation as an Architectural Conservation Area, the residents of Dundanion are imagining possibilities to preserve the historical integrity of the scheme while allowing them to live happily within its courtyards.


Delany McVeigh & Pike Coombe South Housing, Dublin.

Miriam Delaney.

Delany McVeigh & Pike Architects completed three inner city housing projects in the Coombe- New Street area of the Dublin Liberties in the 1970s. At a time when most social housing construction was focussed on new suburban towns, and public inner city redevelopment a rarity, these three projects demonstrate the evolution of architectural responses to city centre infill housing throughout the 1970s.
The first of the Delany McVeigh & Pike schemes – at the junction of Meath St. and the Coombe- marks a clear shift from the previous Modernist approach to inner city deck access apartment design. Instigated by a politically aware residents association, who were vocal in their objection to the typical Corporation flats and demanded houses for families in the area, the resultant project is the first inner city contextual project of its kind in Ireland. Taking reference from the adjacent late 19th century artisan terraced houses and small city squares of the Coombe, Delany McVeigh & Pike developed a high-density, low- rise housing project rich in architectural complexity. Combining two pedestrian access
courtyards, duplex housing over commercial units, three- storey terraced houses, public facilities and a range of private open spaces, the character and strength of the scheme is still evident. The robust brick detailing, variety of threshold treatments, and care in the landscaping marks the first of the Delany McVeigh & Pike projects out as a clear departure from previous Dublin Corporation public housing. Delany McVeigh & Pike went on to complete two later, larger housing schemes in the Liberties, with similar detailing and expression but less variation in unit type and topography.
This paper will focus on the first Delany McVeigh & Pike project at the Coombe South, and will explore the social and political context of the development, in particular the role of community activists as a driving force for a new inner city housing typology. It will situate the scheme in the international context of rising concern for inner city urban renewal and reaction against Modernism in city centre housing.
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Irish Estates – A Study to Inform Practice.
Michael O’Connor, B Arch MRIAI RIBA CA praxis architecture.
As a practice we consistently carry out in house research to inform our work which has included in recent years the recycling of structures in Limerick including Sarsfield House in “Adapted City” and a parallel analysis of the evolution of brick in Limerick and London in “Brick : A Tale of Two Cities”.
Our current research within the studio is a study of semi detached housing on a number of levels to prepare us for future projects in this field. The semi detached is the most common dwelling type within our cities yet it is a territory that more often than not untouched by architectural input.
Within our research we are looking at a number of typologies within our home city of Limerick along with many examples elsewhere in Ireland, the UK, Europe and the US.
Among the estates we are examining in Limerick is the Irish Estates in Corbally, an estate of 134 houses constructed in the 1950’s primarily by a semi state construction company which was a subsidiary of Irish Life, called Irish Estates Ltd. The design of the houses is novel for the period in Limerick being simple flat roofed two storey boxes with open front gardens all arranged in a curvilinear site footprint. The overall feel of the estate has more in common with American suburbia than the edge of a small Irish city.
The paper serves as a summary of our analysis of the project under various headings
including mapping, density, landscape, community, typology and spatiality and how
this research might inform our work in this field in the future.
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‘The High Life’.

Kevin Donovan.

Desmond Fitzgerald’ s two schemes, St. Ann’s and Finsbury House,  and T. L. Griffith’s Ardoyne House on Ailesbury Road, Pembroke Road and Herbert Park respectively are all free-standing slab blocks constructed in the 1960s in one of Dublin’s wealthiest areas. Apparent influences include the near contemporaneous Hansaviertal housing exhibition (1957-61) in Berlin’s Tiergarten but also much earlier influences such as Walter Gropius’ exercises in zeilenbau (1920s) and Berthold Lubetkin’s High-Point schemes (1930s) in London. The high modernist international-style architecture of St. Ann’s in particular presents itself as an anachronistic version of Wells Coates’ Isokon (1934). However, they also make an interesting counterpoint to the doomed public housing of Ballymun constructed in similar typologies on the fringes of Dublin about the same time.

Analysing these influences on the Dublin 4 towers, and using Ballymun as a counterpoint, this paper studies modernist residential towers built for Ireland’s emerging middle classes in the 1960s.