Peek Inside:

Two extreme makeovers that turned 'ugly duckling' homes into stunning properties

Irish Independent feature 3 November 2017

...According to a report released by the Construction Industry Federation earlier this year, Irish homeowners have spent a whopping €1.23billion on home improvement and renovation projects under the scheme since it launched in 2013.

Award-winning architect David Flynn is a genius at property transformation and renovation, and believes that every house has the potential to be turned into something beautiful, particularly the 'ugly' ones.

"They're a blank canvas in terms of actual features so are often easier to upgrade, and offer more opportunities to be creative," he explains.

When the owners of a 1930s semi-detached, dormer bungalow in Terenure first clapped eyes on it, they knew they'd have to make changes, although neither they nor David could have predicted anything so drastic as the extent of work that was ultimately involved.

"This house was a real ugly duckling from the get-go and had been extended three different times over its history, resulting in a sprawling, clumsy warren of dark rooms," says David. "On the upside, it had a large back garden and is located on a great street, close to good schools and a park.

"Initially the owners wanted to remodel. In the end, a massive demolition job that involved knocking down the whole house, save the front façade, proved more economical."

What David has created is a compact, efficient design on a smaller footprint, with four bedrooms and main family bathroom upstairs.

The new layout sees rooms orientated around a double-height, light-filled hallway. At the rear, David has dug down to create ceiling height for the new open-plan kitchen/living/dining room in the swooping curved extension.

The façade has been upgraded too; old windows replaced, new aluminium gutters and a brick trim built around the base. He's also added a modern glazed bay with a window seat, and has re-roofed the build in the original tiles, so it fits in with its neighbour.

The end result is a house that echoes the outline of the old but with a bold revitalised confidence.

Adds David: "People are slowly wising up to ugly homes and realising their potential to provide something different."

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'Pale & Interesting'

Irish Kitchens Magazine
December / January 2018

The home: A renovated property in Booterstown, Co. Dublin

Photography: Aisling McCoy

This 1960's property had been largely untouched since its original construction. When its new owners bought it they faced the task of completely replacing all services, modernising it and making it fit for contemporary living.

As a young family they also wanted to create a large family space for cooking, eating, and relaxing.

While there were plenty of challenges ahead the fact that the property enjoyed a corner site and a south facing orientation to the rear, meant it also came with many advantages.

Working with David Flynn Architects, the rear of the house was opened up completely and a small extension created. This extension was designed to flatter the geometry of the site, simultaneously ensuring the house enjoys more natural light while benefiting from greater privacy.

The new rear elevation steps up in height in proportion to the size of the open plan kitchen, living and dining room it serves, and is protected from midday sunshine by a shallow portico which tracks the motion of the sun from morning till evening.

This portico is a timber-framed construction nestled between masonry piers which are finished in white brick, intended to feel light and more in the character of an interior space, the masonry element to the rear is in distinct contrast to the weighty and somewhat dour character of the original house.

When it came to the interior the owners wanted something that was striking in its simplicity. Clean lines and a neutral colour scheme mimic what is happening with the exterior and creates a space that is both contemporary and timeless.

Working with Blackrock Kitchens they came up with a high functioning design with ample work space and stacks of storage.

A sliding door means the utility room is easily accessible while remaining out of sight of the main room and in the kitchen itself a double door larder press takes care of the family's food Storage.

A recessed shelf above the hob is mirror-lined to reflect light back into the scheme and the choice of the downdraft ceiling extractor is perfectly in keeping with the clean lines.

The central island houses the sink, dishwasher and additional storage and is a great work space. It's also perfect for the family to enjoy casual catch ups around or for when they have guests over.

Commenting on the finished project the owner said: "David brought us a very unique design which we absolutely loved. It was an old south facing house and he created this huge open plan bright space for us. We delighted with how the project turned out. He is very professional and was very thorough with his regular site visits!"

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'Open Appeal'

Irish Kitchens Magazine
April / May 2017

The home: A semi-detached property in Booterstown, Co. Dublin

Photography: Aisling McCoy

This young couple wanted to extend the back of their 1950's property to give it a more contemporary layout and improve the sense of space and flow. They enlisted the help of David Flynn Architects for the project and David then faced the challenge of adding light into this northerly facing scheme.

"The main issue we had to work around was the fact that the back Of the house receives no direct sunlight," explained David. "Adding in large frameless roof lights meant the sun shone over the top making the room below feel much brighter and more cheerful. They also helped warm up the scheme and have been placed to animate the main cooking, preparation and dining areas."

Curving the ceiling up to meet the windows, graduates the light coming in and varies it throughout the day, while the frameless design maximises the amount of sky visible - all creating a very open aesthetic.

Placing the kitchen in the new extension meant David was able to lay the kitchen out the way the couple wanted and then plan the walls accordingly.

David took a simple approach to the linear scheme, wanting to keep it as fuss-free and tidy as possible. A plasterboard bulkhead was added to give the impression the kitchen units are recessed into the wall and this is then replicated on the other side in the living area to create a built-in shelving area.

Adding a thicker exterior wall created a window seat area beside the hob — perfect for talking to the chef without getting in the way.

The front of the house is finished with brick and pebbledash so to try to bed the extension into its surroundings, a brick plinth runs from inside to outside to form a raised patio, with steps down to the garden level. This incorporates a raised planter outside the kitchen window containing a small chefs garden planted with herbs and spices, which will in time bring the garden within arm's reach.

David continued this brickwork into the interior for continuity and the brick wall in the living area is also the perfect balance to the white streamlined cabinetry in the kitchen with the oak flooring and tiled splashback behind the conduction hob blending the two together.

The worktop on which the sink is housed doubles as a breakfast bar, subtly zoning the kitchen and dining area while still keeping the room's open appeal.

The finished result is a room where each area has been carefully considered and everything has its place.

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'Industrial Chic'

House + Design Magazine
June 2016

Interview with the owners of our 'Northlight' project in Booterstown.

Young professional couple Katie and Kevin did not set out to buy their first home in the quiet leafy suburb of Booterstown, South Co. Dublin. But there was something about the timeless quality of the midtwentieth century design with its simplicity and clean lines that caught their attention. With the building boom in residential houses in the 1950s this style of semi-detached dwelling with its red brick and white render is quite common in our cities.

Light air and openness

Architect David Flynn was commissioned to tackle the problem of the property’s northerly aspect, making the living space at the rear of the house feel dark. David proposed a single storey extension to the rear of this three bedroom property and a refurbishment of the ground floor. As the extension was less than 40 square metres, it was exempt from planning permission. This involved demolishing the party walls between the kitchen and dining room to create one large open room. Additionally, glass doors were fitted between the front living room and the dining room to allow the daylight the front of the house received, to enter the centre of the house. The couple liked the option of closing off the front room which they use at the weekends as a cosy space to read the weekend papers. The bespoke l-shaped modular couch fits in perfectly in the corner of this small room.

Two large roof lights were inserted into the extension, one over the dining, and the other over the kitchen breakfast counter- flooding the functional spaces with natural light. The length of these lightwells allow for the rear of the house to benefit from southerly light in the afternoon. The gorgeous sweep of the curved plaster bulkhead adds an extra dimension to the space and animating the living spaces with varying daylight throughout the day. ‘David was keen on the curve and to try and stay true to the values of 1950s design’ commented Kevin.

Bring in brick

The exterior is finished with red brick and pebbledash, echoing the style of the front elevation. To try and bed the exterior into its surrounding, a few courses of the brickwork run from the inside to the outside to form a raised patio, like an outdoor room, with steps down to the garden level. This incorporates a raised planter outside the kitchen window containing herbs to be within the ‘chef’s’ reach at mealtimes.

Industrial Chic

With its origins in the factory floor, Industrial chic first became popular in our cities, studios, cafés and restaurants but has crossed the threshold into interior design. In the living area bare brick and aged wood mingle with a dichotic metal table legs and chairs to create a space that is both contemporary and nostalgic.

The kitchen oozes stylish functionality featuring slender white subway tiles which echo the brick plinth in the dining space. The grouting match the countertop whites and greys. The bespoke kitchen units are also white. There is a breakfast counter and high metal chairs. Low hanging metal light pendants help to visually divide the food preparation area from the dining/entertaining area.

Off-white, on trend

The architect recommended the neutral wall colour of Fallon & Ball’s Cornforth White. A popular shade of off-white. It complements the brilliant white shelves in the dining space which displays the couple’s dining sets; the wooden floors, the cool metals and grey countertops. It also helps the brick plinth stand out as a feature, creating a continuous low shelf for displaying books and ornaments as an alternative to a traditional mantelpiece.

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“Shining a light on the best design Ireland can offer”

Sunday Times 'Move' Supplement

Extract from Feature on RIAI Irish Architecture Awards 2016

Every man is the architect of his own fortune, but the clients behind the shortlisted projects at this year’s Irish Architecture awards know that sometimes you need a bit of help to create your castle.

The houses and home extension in this year’s shortlist can compete with some of the best projects in the world. There’s an eclectic range of house styles, site sizes and settings, from the rural to the urban, from tiny to large sites, and from one-off homes to housing schemes. And you get to vote for your favourite one.

“Reflected Light”

How do you transform a 1950s Booterstown semi? You get David Flynn on the case. To counteract a dark northerly aspect, Flynn installed large rooflights. The space is lit by reflected rather than direct sunlight thanks to dropped plaster bulkheads inside. Dflynn.com

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"Thinking on Paper"

Architecture Ireland Magazine - No. 280, Issue 2
March-April 2015


AI: How can you describe your relationship with the drawing process?

DF: I tend to break drawings into three categories. The first one I call "problem solving drawings", done for various design stages. The second type is the drawings which you might show to the client, like quick 3D sketches. The third type is what I do for fun, large scale drawings which you see scattered around my office.

AI: Is it the small thumbnail sketches or larger, more articulate drawings, that you find most helpful in your work?

DF: The drawings which I can do the quickest become the most useful ones. Early on in the design you don't want to get stuck in the details. It is important to produce a quick series of initial design sketches for yourself and for the client. As a rule, I prepare quick presentation drawings in less than half an hour each. This allows me to produce four of five of them in less than two hours.

AI: What is your preferred drawing technique and why have you developed it?

DF: It depends what I am drawing for but it would mostly be a black fine liner on sketching paper. I find that this simple drawing medium allows me to communicate ideas quickly and clearly to the clients, and they seem to be responding well to them.

AI: Do you collect your drawings or do you “part with them” as soon as they are done?

DF: I don't throw drawings away, I keep them in project folders in the office.

AI: Were you passionate about drawing before you became an architect?

DF: I did art at school but when I was twelve I started to draw because I wanted to. Very early on I started to draw buildings. I suppose my interest in drawing and architecture evolved together.

AI: Who are your favourite artists and what do you admire in their work?

DF: I’m really fascinated by old engineering drawings by people like Labrouste, Brunel or drawings that Eiffel had prepared for his tower. Also love 19th century dry-point etchings, drawings by Eliel Saarinen and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Wasmuth perspectives.

AI: Do you also draw at your leisure? If so, what would be your favourite subjects and drawing medium?

DF: I like to draw when I come back from travelling. When I am away I often take careful pictures of scenes which fascinate me with a view to producing large size drawings from them when I am back.

AI: What advice would you give to architecture students and to young architects on how to bring together the free-hand drawing and Cad techniques in their work?

DF: The facility to actually draw is very important. The better you can visualize and draw the project from the start, the better the project is going to be. Of course you have to know when to draw by hand and when to use Cad. When you have good sketches at the beginning of the project you can always go back to them. Cad drawing doesn't embody ideas in the same way.

AI: What would be your final thoughts on drawing that you would like to share with the readers?

DF: With all the demands on architect's time nowadays, with the amount of time spent on design being vastly reduced, it is more challenging now than ever to stay in touch with drawing. It is a skill which you need to keep up, otherwise it can deteriorate very fast.

'A Home for Life'

Tara Leigh, Irish Independent Home Renovation Guide 2014

A home for life Improving your home today can pay off in the future

Today people are taking a longer view of their house and considering it a space they are going to reside in for the next 5 to 20 Years.So it makes sense to create a space that you are going to enjoy for the rest of your life.

But where do you start? According to architect David Flynn (www.dflynn.com) the first step is to consider the function of the house.“Le Corbusier said in 1929 that ‘A house is a machine for living in.’ That philosophy has not changed.

A lot happens in a house from eating to-sleeping and cleaning to working. You need to look at it like a production line. Look at the way you live, how you would like to live and how to make your house work best for you.” The next step is to identify the dead space.

“Clients often come to me looking to add on to their home but when I look at their property they have a lot of space, that space is just not being used as effectively as it could be.

“Sometimes all it takes to free up space is to look at what you are holding on to that you don’t need. You can also free-up space by getting rid of lightweight non-structural partitions.” Often a dining room can be used very little, while a kitchen is intensely used. By opening up the kitchen you can utilise your space more efficiently.

David is quick to point out that a home should not just be a place to live and do chores, for you to truly enjoy hour home it should be an extension of your personal style and personality. “Your home is your personal manifesto. And you need to think about what it says about you.

Colour is an easy way to inject personality into your home. Painting walls, cabinet and floors can add warmth and depth to a house. It’s also easy to re-paint down the line as your tastes and needs change.”

While adding a touch of paint to your home is a great way to brighten it up, you should also think about how much natural light your house is letting in. “You can’t do a lot about the orientation of your house but putting in new windows or rooflights can make a big difference to you home,” asserts David. "As this doesn't involve, it can be relatively easy to achieve.” A good architect will be able to tell you how you can make the most of natural sunlight.

“Another top tip,” continues David, “is to paint your floorboards in a hard finish to that they magnify the effects and changes of the sun.” A good side effect of making the most of natural light is that you can reduce your energy bills in the process.

Reducing energy usage is a topic on top of most homeowner’s minds. The walls of new houses are generally twice as thick as those built in the 50s and 60s. If your house was built a few decades ago you should look at its energy performance. Insulation materials are much more robust today and can really improve your home’s ability to retain heat. Replacing single glazed windows with double glazing can also make a huge difference to the amount of hear that is escaping through the windows.

Finally, David says that it is vital to think about you home’s ability to meet your future needs. “More and more people are coming to me looking at ways to ensure their homes are accessible for the rest of their lives. For many people, the homes they are in now will be their homes for the next 10 and 15 years and they have to be extremely versatile. The good news is that if you have a good layout it shouldn’t be a problem to adapt your home for mobility purposes.”

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Tallinn Architecture Biennale Catalogue


This project was the Third Prize Winner in an Open International competition which was part of the Tallinn Architectural Biennale 2013.

Citation: “The jury regarded the idea of eliminating the emptiness left amid Väike-Õismäe's buildings by increasing the surface of the pond as the simplest and most interesting proposal amongst others of its kind. Expanding the existing pond up to the buildings in the inner ring would preserve both the pond and the dwellings, and would boost the quality and meaning of the environment and the space - not to mention the market value of the waterside structures or apartment buildings.

Boring, empty roads and expanses of asphalt were cleverly removed. The project's idea is beautiful, significantly affects the environment, and creates a valuable space; however, it does so by way of quite large investments and development.”

Architect's Description

If Väike-Õismäe is to be improved, people have to be given a reason to want to live there: a newly refurbished apartment just won’t cut it. A community of this size deserves more. There needs to be a sense of place with a distinct identity.

Any attempt to transform the place must somehow address the overwhelming scale, which is in many ways a strong reflection of the regime that conceived it. The place is also a victim of the old Modernist belief that all open space is good, without question. Now we know that sometimes the vacancy of open space can be threatening.

The large space at the heart of Väike-Õismäe is empty except for a scattering of some facilities, which seem to have little sense of their central location. This open space is ambiguous. Is it supposed to be urban, suburban or parkland? We think of cities like Sienna, Italy where the central oval piazza is an intense focus of urban activity, or of Central Park, New York, which stands in marked counterpoint to the intense city around it. Väike-Õismäe is quite different so we take a different approach to achieve some sort of intensity - let’s make it so empty it’s beautiful.

We propose to relocate the various functions currently located at the centre amongst the existing housing blocks. The parking layout also needs to be managed. The new urban density will lead to vibrancy, and improve the quality of life for its residents.

With the central space cleared, it can be flooded to create a serene new lake surrounded by a narrow linear park with boardwalks; an ethereal and shimmering body of water which will play with atmospheric daylight throughout the seasons.

The oval is introverted and needs to be connected to the world outside. We propose canal linkages to the larger bodies of water. This opens up the idea of a water-borne community with yachts, barges and houseboats that will help establish the life of the new lake and environs.

Väike-Õismäe becomes a Pleasure Port.

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New Irish Architecture 27

AAI Awards Jury 2011:
William JR Curtis (Chair), Tony Fretton, Ivana Bacik, Merritt Bucholz, Jo Taillieu.

FRETTON - I have some regard for this project. There are aspects to it that show real architectural intelligence at work.

BACIK - I like what happens with the roof at the back of the house. lt's an interesting approach.

FRETTON - I think the spatial configuration is more than elegant. I like the way that the garden is almost touching the window-frames and brought into contact with the interior, which is obviously the intention. I think there's real understanding of lifestyle. There are certain elements where the earlier work is transformed by the new. The facade has elegance, and the scale of the elements is very well judged from what I can see. I think it's a good piece of work. I think it's worth a special mention.

BUCHOLZ - I can appreciate the relationship the house now has to the garden. It’s a challenge with such large houses to establish a meaningful relationship with the garden, and this project manages to do that.

TAILLIEU - It's an interesting addition in terms of the relationship between garden, new building and existing building.


House in Sandymount

This house is one of eight semi-detached, brick fronted houses built around 1870. As originally designed, an ornate double-hipped two-storey volume to the front contained the main reception rooms and bedrooms with a lower, two storey return to the rear and a further lean-to back pantry.

Since then at least five separate building campaigns have altered the rear and side of the house to keep up with changing domestic norms. Having raised a family in the house, the present owners decided it was time for an audit of all these accretions, and to make their first intervention to the building.

Many of the extensions had passed their serviceable lives, and the opportunity was taken to demolish these and reintroduce daylight into the side of the house.

The original ground floor plan was a trio of drawing room, dining room and kitchen (with circulation and a small study). In re-planning the house, we have re-established this with a single, large garden room to the rear accommodating kitchen, dining, storage and living areas around a fireplace. With previous extensions demolished, the garden now extends around the sides of the house.

Some time ago the original pantry was demolished to make way for a glazed conservatory across the two-storey return. Developing this intent further we opened up the back of the house to the garden with a series of steel-framed portals. Facing almost due North, and recalling a seasonally inhospitable veranda, the new rear elevation was layered to provide some sense of threshold. The new room is lit by seven windows on three elevations, so as to mitigate against a stark northerly aspect.

A new zinc roof splits into two: a sloping section over the living area increases ceiling height, so that the room is consistent in scale with the main house. A lower roof, projecting beyond the large garden window, is supported on a series of light steel posts.

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Streets and Squares Book


This hardback coffee-table book was published in China in 2014 by Artpower International. The focus of the book is public spaces throughout the world, both built and unbuilt, and includes one of our competition entries which was shortlisted in an Open International Competition in the UK.

Project description:
"This project was one of 7 finalists in an open International Competition run by the Royal Institute of British Architects on behalf of Newport City Council (Wales.) The scheme was exhibited for public comment with a view to evolving a strategy for the development of this area.

The brief centred on the reinterpretation of an important public space, previously occupied by factories along the River Usk. We identified the area as an important circulation point in the city, and underpinning the project was the conviction that for a successful public space to occur, basic circulation (both vehicular and pedestrian) needed to be managed.

This place is a point of confluence through which pass the traces of people and their movement; the different historical layers of the city; where built form meets the water’s edge; where the visitor meets the city for the first time; where the pedestrian encounters traffic.

In its existing condition, there is no sense of entry at what should be a gateway to the city. Instead, it is an obstacle to be surmounted. The alternative proposed here is a continuous surface which seems moulded by the patterns of use of the city’s inhabitants, a surface which rises and dips to prioritise the pedestrian over vehicular traffic, and to optimise one’s experience of this important location. The sculptural form of the proposal dramatises very pragmatic requirements into a memorable experience.

Town Bridge lands on the west bank of the river, and this becomes a place to pause and orient oneself. From here, the ground ramps down and one can step into a sweep of sunny and sheltered public space spanning between the river to the east and the Victorian Market Hall to the West."

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Irish Examiner
July 2011

Friendly advice helps family realise a dream. An extension to a family home was brought to life by an architect who knew the house all his life, writes Rose Martin.

You buy big house, fill it with a family and live contentedly for over 20 years until the children start to move out and you finally get round to planning that lovely room at the back you’ve always wanted.Now suppose that this big old house of yours was always an unofficial hostel for the children's friends, and further suppose that one of those friends grew up to be an architect.Well, you'd use him, wouldn’t you - a young man who’d been in and out of the house all his life - who better to reconfigure the old space into the new?

That's what Anne and Eddie O'Donovan decided too for their Sandymount home and elected architect David Flynn as the man for the job. He's spent his formative years in and out of the house and knew the usage pattern intimately - which not only helps. It lays the foundation for a good job. And it also helped that the O'Donovans gave him free rein from the start. Well, sort of: the first few paper drafts weren't quite what they wanted so some further discussion ensured, involving persuasion on Flynn’s part and in the end, it came right.
“The original extension had a door where the window is now,” explains Anne, “and it was very long and dark and had no natural light and we thought it would be nice to have a room and open it onto the garden.“I had quite a clear idea in my mind: I wanted it to run out straight and and have glass areas looking onto the garden – simple, clean lines,” says Anne.“David was a friend of our son’s and he knew the house and the flow and while it was a lovely house before the extension - it was from then on that it became beautiful.”And in a way, David answered Anne and Eddie’s request for simple clean lines with glass, but that's to underestimate the subtle and beautiful nature of this extension.
Built onto the north-facing wall of this late Victorian red-brick, it's a very light and gentle addition, almost like a summer pavilion with its narrow steel supports, curtain glazing and low line, zinc roof which clears the main walls to create wings at either side. And this is where the architect listening to the client pays off: Anne O'Donovan loves the garden and spends lot of time outside. The wings provide clever shelter from the rain for both entrance doorways and on one side, allow a direct view from the dining room windows to the garden.
The design, with its wall of glass, makes the garden part of the living space and with three windows on the western elevation, steals as much light as possible into this north-facing projections.

But that's not all, the subtlety of the build means that the viewer is not conscious of being in a 'box' stuck onto the main house, but rather a garden room that while it’s conspicuously modern, use timeless elements that gel well with the old house.The original ground floor had a drawing room, dining room and kitchen and small study and in redesigning the house, David Flynn has re-established that flow with a single, large garden room in place of the two previous extensions.In doing so, the space has been opened up, allowing more light in on the western elevation while creating another garden zone.

The new garden room is built with a series of steel-framed portals, he says, which allowed a double height space, aided by the zinc roof, which splits into two: one part sloping upwards over the living room to give soaring height, (and which is the element that makes the most impact), while the lower roof, spans outward, pagoda-style to site on its narrow steel supports.Viewed from the garden, the symmetry is perfect, while the pavilion sitting gently against the original, two-storey return in perfect harmony.It’s an emblem of the new century, but with a delicacy that respects the old house and the lush, enthusiast’s garden that surrounds it.

And for all its soaring space, the room is very practical too: there are walls on two sides, (the roof seems to sit on this ledge of support at the garden end in a nice twist) and the rear is fitted with kitchen units, island and a wall of built-in units.On the right hand side, facing down the garden, the wainscoted storage element that’s fitted under the stairs has been continued into the new wing. Here it’s translated into secret, built-in storage along one wall, ending in a low level window, which overlook the south eastern side of the garden.The lower half of that room is taken up with what could be described as a modern interpretation of an inglenook fireplace: a big square area, with slot-in gas fire dressed in Crema marble and with a low shelf at its base.Flynn has cleverly included this element to double as a seat and the fireplace wall curves gently towards the small window on the eastern side. Across the room, there's a dedicated dining area set into a matching alcove, with a table from Duff Tisdall and chairs, that are a perfect match, from Arnotts.

The occasional furniture includes side tables from Bo Concept and a fine leather armchair in cream from Dunnes: the sofa is Arnotts and the chair was specially made in Navan. The final armchair is an antique find.The kitchen, meanwhile, is a standard pick from The Panelling Centre - Anne's not too pushed on what's in or not in, she says, and she took along a friend when choosing the 'less is more' style, high gloss cream kitchen units with their quality granite worktop.

The design includes a wall of units backing onto the house side and a good working island that provides a break into the living area and also acts as an informal dining table.Every element of the build was overseen by David Flynn: "He lived it - and managed the builder and was down on his bike at least once a week - he put his heart and soul into it," says Anne. Flynn created a model for the build initially but it didn't include a downstairs loo, or 'glory hole', as Anne calls a utility, but they also didn't want to clutter up the lovely, clear views through the new build, so a solution was found. The understairs area is now a well-fitted laundry space, (with a stacked washer and dryer) and the secret units running along the right-hand-side wall fill other storage needs.The downstairs loo, meanwhile is a triumph. Formerly a small study, it’s been converted to a very majestic, almost queenly, guest bathroom.The piping came about as a matter of necessity because the room served as a temporary kitchen while all hell went on around the family during the build. And it seemed a natural solution, especially when Anne saw a shop model marble sink and knew it would be perfect.It wasn't for sale, but she kept going back' kept asking and eventually the owner relented and sold the unit to her. It's absolutely perfect, she says, and looking at the room, that's true, it just goes to show: don't take no the first time.

With all the elements in Place, the O'Donovans got the house they wanted, David Flynn had a commission which saw him shortlisted for two awards and the friendship not only survived, but has thrived on the challenge. A wonderful feat.

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"Here comes the Sun"

Sunday Times Home supplement

Creative thinking will transform gloomy living spaces into all things bright and beautiful, writes Siobhan Maguire.

Miriam Kearney, an early riser, looks forward to her 6am starts. She relishes those morning hours when she can potter around her new kitchen and watch as the sun creeps up the walls. This time alone with her thoughts and an abundance of light sets the Montessori teacher up for the day ahead, spent with a class of three-year-olds.

“It is uplifting and it puts you in a good mood; I definitely feel the benefits of the light coming in,” she says.

This wasn't always the case, however. Kearney and husband, Eamonn, moved into what was a rather ordinary 1970s semi-detached house in Rathfarnham, Co.Dublin, in 1975. There, they raised five children and Miriam admits that as her family grey, the house - especially the kitchen - grew smaller. Lost at the back of the property, the room would often feel dark and gloomy. Even so, the Kearneys had no intention of leaving their home of 36 years.

"We were married and moved into the house in 1975, a standard house, but I was keen when we bought it that it was south-facing," says Eamonn, a public sector worker. The problem with the typical semi-detached house at the time was that the kitchen was tiny, but we have had five kids on top of each other - there's only 16 to 18 months between all of them - so we didn’t move or make changes to that part of the house. By the time we got around to doing the work, the house was pretty tatty, so we knew that it we were going to make the changes we wanted, we should do it properly."

They were settled in the house and with Eamonn reluctant to leave his vegetable patch - two years ago, the couple made the decision to hire an architect with one very clear instruction: to bring more daylight into their home. "This is the kind of house you see all over Ireland and I tried to breathe new life into it by opening up around the rear and extending the house around a small reflecting pool," says David Flynn, who has an architecture practice in Dublin 6.

"The house faces south at the rear and the extension was designed around how light to the original house would be affected. In the end, the kitchen was pushed out into the garden to catch light on all four sides as it rises from the east at breakfast time, moving overhead during the day and dropping at evening time to slope in through an unfolding western elevation.”

In addition to this, a utility room and extra storage space was added to the centre of the house, a reflecting pool was built between it and the extension and a rear window in the living room was enlarged, introducing continuity between it and the garden.

But it is having a home awash with sunlight, even in winter, that has really impressed the Kearneys.

“The morning window, is almost like Newgrange in the way the light slowly creeps into the room,” says Eamonn. “Even on a winter’s morning, there is a crystal-clear definition of everything because of the light. It’s magical and genuinely lifts your spirits. Come evening, the sun has moved around and we can open up the doors and sit there and read and listen to music. Light is hugely important.”

The Kearney’s home is testament to how a light-filled space and the correct orientation of a house can have a positive impact on the mind, body and way of life. The relationship between the orientation of a house and the sun’s path is vital if it is to be more energy efficient.

And it’s not just about energy efficiency – a lighter, brighter home can also lift the spirits. In the early part of the twentieth century, modernist architecture started to explore the psychological benefits of house orientation and ‘catching the sun.’ American ‘starchitects’ if the 1940s such as Richard Neutra and Rudolph Schindler, became preoccupied with exploring the relationship between people’s access to daylight and the interaction of the environment and their homes. This led to many dramatic builds including the Case Study Houses, a housing experiment in California between 1845 and 1966 commissioned by an Architecture magazine.

“With people’s working environments often quite cut off from the external world, it is all the more important that when we are home we can be aware of the world outside,” says Flynn. “In practical terms, this means being able to track the motion of the sun and watch how the seasons might change the outdoor environment around us.”

…While the Irish sun might not hang around as much as we would like, it still has an important role when it comes to providing energy in the home, something more and more people are becoming conscious of. By arranging a property to ensure maximum exposure to the sun during all four seasons, a home can be adapted to fit the description of a passive house, defined as: “A comfortable indoor climate in summer and winter without needing a conventional heating system.”

Low-energy houses have grown popular in Ireland in the last decade.While they are not always the most attractive house designs, they are extremely energy efficient, with demand for heating not exceeding 15KWh per square metre, per year. This not only saves on electricity costs and home-heating bills, but it also shows just how much energy can be generated from more eco-friendly sources – solar, wind, wood-pellet stoves, better insulation and ventilation.

Having seen how much sunlight their home gets on any given day, the Kearneys are keen to make further changes to their home to make it even more energy efficient.

“I work in a semi-state company and I’m in charge of office buildings. I’ve transformed our energy usage in the offices already,” says Eamonn Kearney.

“I’m keen to do something similar with our house, the technology in this area is evolving all the time and it makes such a difference. For us, we are seeing the benefits of having so much light. Our home still looks like every other house on the street but when people walk in and look around now, the reaction is always ‘wow.’”

Catch the Light

If you want to make the most of daylight, follow these simple tips:

-Know your North from South: “Knowing exactly where the sun moves can be the difference between a room being sunny when you come home from work or not,” says David Flynn, a Dublin-based architect. “Phone apps now include compasses which can be very useful when buying a property.”

-Next, over the course of a number of months, maps out and note the angle of the sun in your garden and around the home. This will give you an idea of what part of the house you should open up to make the most of sunlight hours. Remember, the angle of the sun alters throughout the year.

-Many Irish homes were built without regard to solar orientation, so introducing daylight from the sides and from above can be important, both in terms of aesthetics and lifting the moods of those who live there.

Flynn says: “When sketching out plans, the first move for any architect is to draw the North point and then visualise where you need to be as the sun moves around. These days, architects can also use simple daylight modelling software and this can be really helpful for people to visualise the space in terms of light and shadow.”

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Competition Entry Sheet. The concrete shell of Ranks Silo currently lies abandoned. Concept Image - the interior of an upright piano Typical floor plan showing cellular structure Cross Section


High Commended
Docomomo Limerick City of Culture Ranks Silo Competition
2015, Ireland

DOCOMOMO Ireland is the Irish chapter of the international organisation docomomo (International Working Party for Documentation and Conservation of Buildings, Sites and Neighbourhoods of the Modern Movement.)

In 2014, and as part of the Limerick City of Culture year, an Open International Ideas competition was run soliciting ideas for the future use of an abandoned silo building in a riverside location just outside Limerick City Centre.

Architectural Description

Limerick is home to the Irish Chamber Orchestra and the Irish World Music Centre. Perhaps it’s a place to consider a large scale musical intervention, filling a redundant box with new music: the creation of a Sound Silo.

The tall chambers of Rank’s silo could reverberate to the sounds of a giant new instrument which uses the structural robustness of the existing walls to create a frame for tensioned strings.

The principle underpinning every upright or grand pianoforte is scaled up to create an immersive musical environment where the movement of the giant hammers becomes a mesmerising spectacle in itself.

A tall, theatical space is excavated out from the middle of the structure and one long internal wall is perforated to create the instrument’s soundboard. The surrounding chambers are opened up to create theatrical boxes.

Typical house elevation Competition Sheet 1 Competition Sheet 2 Competition Sheet 3 Site Strategy Plan Aerial View of block model

EUROPAN - Nuremberg
2013, Germany

This project was a shortlisted finalist in the biennial EUROPAN Architectural Competition which is run in many cities around Europe, in this case Nuremberg, Germany.

Architectural Description

The project starts with the fine urban grain of a medieval city and tests whether this might still be useful to create vibrant urban space for the current age.

The scale of city we find in historic city cores is too good to leave to tourists.

The local area is characterised by perimeter blocks, whose shape and extent is dictated by the roads and parking which encircle them.

Each perimeter defines a street frontage and exposed the shared private space at their centres.

Residential units are accessed from shared halls, and their private outdoor space consists of balconies.

Exhibition catalogue Tallinn Architecture Biennale 2013 Aerial of location as originally built Competition Sheet 1 Competition Sheet 2 Competition Sheet 3 Awards ceremony in Estonia Travelling exhibition

Tallinn Architecture Biennale - Vision Competition
2013, Estonia

Winner in an Open International competition which was part of the Tallinn Architectural Biennale 2013.
Jury: Bjarke Ingels (BIG, Founding Partner), Inga Raukas (City of Tallinn, Chief Architect), Endrik Mänd (Allianss Arhitektid, Founding Partner)

Competition Brief: " The largest urban scales in contemporary cities appeared in the socialist and modernist eras. During a massive production of space, glorious ideologies were poured into concrete moulds for a society that never came to be.

Modern society is living in a world of individuality and customizability, but the awkward moulds are still here – in Tallinn, in Estonia, in Eastern and Central Europe, in all of Europe, all over the world. What is there to recycle from the spaces, structures, projects, ideas, concepts and materials of the past? What is there to recycle for today’s life and new utopias of the future?"

Jury Citation:

“The jury regarded the idea of eliminating the emptiness left amid Väike-Õismäe's buildings by increasing the surface of the pond as the simplest and most interesting proposal amongst others of its kind.

Expanding the existing pond up to the buildings in the inner ring would preserve both the pond and the dwellings, and would boost the quality and meaning of the environment and the space - not to mention the market value of the waterside structures or apartment buildings.

Boring, empty roads and expanses of asphalt were cleverly removed.

The project's idea is beautiful, significantly affects the environment, and creates a valuable space; however, it does so by way of quite large investments and development.”

David Flynn Architects Ltd. David Flynn Architects Ltd. David Flynn Architects Ltd. David Flynn Architects Ltd. David Flynn Architects Ltd. David Flynn Architects Ltd.

DOCOMOMO Central Bank Competition
2013, Ireland

This project was a finalist in an open international Ideas competition run by DOCOMOMO. The project was exhibited in the Irish Architectural archive and appeared on TV news. The project was also presented in the School of Architecture, UCD.

Architectural Description

This project was a finalist in an open international Ideas competition run by DOCOMOMO. The project was exhibited in the Irish Architectural archive and appeared on TV news. The project was also presented in the School of Architecture, UCD.
The competition brief came about in response to suggestions that the Central Bank of Ireland would vacate its highly controversial premises on Dame Street, Dublin. The brief solicited responses for proposals concerning the building’s future.

David Flynn Architects Ltd. David Flynn Architects Ltd. David Flynn Architects Ltd. David Flynn Architects Ltd.

RIAI Dublin City University Entrance Competition
2012, Ireland

Architectural Description

At present, DCU’s main entrance is through a vehicular junction which as been engineered like any other to meet basic transportation requirements. It is flanked on either side by narrow pavements with the large School of Nursing on one site and a currently vacant yard on the other. The proposal is to widen the pavement on the right-hand-side to create a broader avenue. This creates a more civic approach leading to the body of the university and also creates more space at the entrance for a meaningful intervention. This is necessary in order to avoid impinging on either public pedestrian footpaths, or the vehicular carriageway. This Avenue approach will dramatically improve perception of the campus, Well planned hard landscaping, planting and street furniture will help to create a more urban, vibrant character and sense of place. This is described in more detail below.

The Collins Avenue Extension is a large, busy road and this entails implications for the scale and visibility of signage. In addition to the strategy outlined above, the intervention consists of two major, components: -a tall signage ‘blade’ incorporating the DCU name and logo. This is about the same height at the bookend part of the School of Nursing and acts as a counterpart to form a large scale gateway. -a sculptural screen which acts as a backdrop or foil to the above blade, and incorporates the full ‘Dublin City University’ text as a large supergraphic which is integrated into the makeup of the slatted screen. This element will helps to give some shape to the space and Create a sense of place and identity. Placed at right angles to the main road, the signage blade is free-standing and placed perpendicular to the line of sight of oncoming traffic which makes it much more visible and easier for drivers to see. The placement of this signage is allowed created by widening the footpath as described above.

Competition Sheet 1 Typical 1970s block as currently stands Competition Sheet 3 Structural Strategy Sectional view showing proposed thermal envelope

RIBA Nationwide UK Sustainable Housing Awards
2011, UK

This project was shortlisted in the 2011 Nationwide UK Sustainable Housing awards organised by the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Extract from Jury Citation: “A very striking and credible strategy for renovating the Hillington block typology by creating new hanging balcony structure on the outside enabling greening of the balconies and facades.”

Architectural Description

The existing buildings are robust and highly rational and therefore not beyond re-use.

In this proposal, we look to simplify the thermal envelope, adding an additional layer with greened facades.

This will improve the quality and experience, as well as performance of the buildings, whilst minimising impact on residents and on the environment.

The competition brief raised a number of serious issues about the building stock which we has been inherited, and which we will be looking after in the future.

It particularly timely as the option of demolishing and re-building is not as attractive as it may have been in the past due to environmental and economic concerns.

Interior Visualisation Competition Sheet 1 Competition Sheet 2 Competition Sheet 3 Programmatic Diagram Site Plan Annotated Floorplan Southern Elevation Visualisation of Winter Garden Elevational View of model Elevations Exhibition launch in New York Attendees at Symposium on Spacial Cognition, German Consulate to UN, New York city

'Designing from the Inside out'
2011, Germany

Competition brief:

This open ideas competition invites practicing architects, architecture students and designers to design an Academic Interchange for the University of Bremen, Germany. The Academic Interchange is envisioned as an incubator for interdisciplinary collaborations and international relations for academics at the university.

Entrants are encouraged to pay particular attention to the immersive experience of a visitor or visiting resident of the Academic Interchange with respect to their experience/understanding of the building and movement/flow through it. The design concept should originate from the perspective of the building user and be designed from the bottom up."

This practice won First Prize in the Professional category

Architectural Description

This project was Winner in the Professional category of ‘Designing from the Inside Out – Envisaging an Academic Interchange,’ a competition run by the Universities of Freiburg and Northumbria.

In this proposal, where a high proportion of users are first-time visitors, a large rectilinear space is subdivided by a meandering glazed screen.

This loosely defines spaces without separating them. All principal functions are visible from the point of entry.

One can orientate oneself with respect to the southern verandah elevation and enclosed outdoor spaces within the structure.

The Academic Interchange is a linear building along the Southern boundary of the competition site.

Most of the building is low and organised on a single floor, which is more appropriate for accommodating large numbers of people.

A narrow block on the North side rises several floors and contains a Mezzanine level for Administration functions, with three further floors above accommodating the residential elements of the brief.

David Flynn Architects Ltd. David Flynn Architects Ltd. David Flynn Architects Ltd. David Flynn Architects Ltd. David Flynn Architects Ltd.

Q5 Waltrovka Competition (with Criona Nangle)
2010, Czech Republic

Adaptation of Industrial Buildings, Prague. This project was joint winner in an Open International competition run by the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland. The project was carried out in collaboration with Criona Nangle.

Architectural Description

This project outlines an initial architectural response to a competition brief concerning a 2.3ha former industrial site in Prague, and in particular, the retention and re-use of some robust wind tunnel testing buildings.

The story of the Walter factory can be seen to track the twentieth century history of the country we now call the Czech Republic.

However, 99 years after moving to this site, the factory complex is now largely demolished and awaiting redevelopment.

Our concept centred on the idea that selective demolition would return these buildings to their primitive forms, rendering them useful and attractive, even though the function for which they were purposefully formed, is now gone.

David Flynn Architects Ltd. David Flynn Architects Ltd. David Flynn Architects Ltd. David Flynn Architects Ltd. David Flynn Architects Ltd. David Flynn Architects Ltd.

RIBA Newport Market Square Competition, Wales
2006, UK

This project was one of 7 finalists in an open International Competition run by the Royal Institute of British Architects on behalf of Newport City Council (Wales.) The project was exhibited for public comment in Wales and has since been appeared in a substantial Chinese publication on public spaces. Click here

Architectural Description

The brief centred on the reinterpretation of an important public space, previously occupied by factories along the River Usk.

We identified the area as an important circulation point in the city, and underpinning the project was the conviction that for a successful public space to occur, basic circulation (both vehicular and pedestrian) needed to be managed.

This place is a point of confluence through which pass the traces of people and their movement; the different historical layers of the city; where built form meets the water’s edge; where the visitor meets the city for the first time; where the pedestrian encounters traffic.

There is no sense of entry; instead, an obstacle to be surmounted before gaining entry into the city.

The alternative proposed here is a continuous surface which seems moulded by the patterns of use of the city’s inhabitants, a surface which rises and dips to prioritise the pedestrian over vehicular traffic, and to optimise one’s experience of this location.

The sculptural form of the proposal dramatises pragmatic requirements into a memorable experience.