Emerging Architecture Awards


David Mc Dowell


Malahide, Dublin, Ireland

December 2004
As the miraculous Irish economy burgeons, prosperous parts of the countryside are being covered by a rash of villas, each separated from neighbours by a garden and total indifference to appearance, style, tradition, materials, massing and manners. Topography and micro-climate are ignored in this low-density, land-greedy travesty of suburban development.
The Wheatfield Courtyard is a riposte. David Mc Dowell wanted to show how the traditional agricultural farm type of County Dublin can be translated into modern housing, a strategy that helps both save old buildings and increase density of rural settlements. He took a decayed farmyard, and by judicious restoration, demolition and new building converted it into a house.
Two of the existing stone buildings have been converted, re-harled and refenestrated (openings were retained with new frames). They are at right-angles to each other and are linked by a new node, a glass, cedar and galvanized steel box that relates the different levels of the two existing buildings. From this box, another projects westward, offering the parlour extensive views of the surrounding countryside unlike the spaces in the masonry blocks, which look in to the old farmyard.
Clearly, such a building had rich clients, but the jury felt that it has lessons to offer for less prosperous people. Good existing buildings have been kept and enhanced; a model of dense development is suggested; materials have been handled in an exemplary manner, with old and new distinct, but sympathetic to each other, a sympathy that will grow as the cedar weathers to its final grey. The jury felt that it set a geometrical and tectonic example of how Bungalow Blight might be mitigated.

David Mc Dowell, Dublin