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The house was to be anything but ordinary!

Story Highlights
  • "Architecture is a powerful tool, and when it is embraced with trust, it has the potential to bring immense joy."
  • "It had to accommodate school bags, toys, coats, boots and all the day-to-day items needed for a family with three busy, sporty children."
  • "An astute decision to downsize the project during the design phase helped manage costs effectively."

LOVE Architecture is an Architecture firm that finds any form of building design extremely satisfying but has a special fondness for the intricacies of home design.

Here, Architect Karen Feeney discusses a new build project.

“In 2018, at the very start of my journey as a self-employed Registered Architect, a close friend approached me with an exciting proposition; to be the Architect for her upcoming new home construction project. Our initial discussion revolved around her site, the surrounding environment, and her vision for the project. It became evident during this conversation that our collaboration was a perfect fit,” explained Karen.

“My role in this project was comprehensive. I served as the Architect responsible for the design drawings for the planning application, construction drawings for the commencement notice, building specifications, overseeing the construction for bank stage payments and the final sign-off.

“I was also actively engaged in overseeing the construction process and ultimately signing the certificates of compliance. This multifaceted role allowed me to use my design skills to create the original concept drawings, born out of a detailed brief and bring the design to realisation, ensuring that vision was faithfully executed.”

As to the design brief?

“The design brief for this project was a blend of functionality and aesthetics. The homeowner, a Scientist with a penchant for practicality, emphasised the need for a highly functional home. It had to accommodate school bags, toys, coats, boots and all the day-to-day items needed for a family with three busy, sporty children.

The house needed exceptional laundry facilities and efficient food storage. The key principle was to ensure that no space went to waste and that every aspect of the house was thoughtfully planned.

“In addition to functionality, the homeowner had a distinct aesthetic vision. Clean lines, a fresh material palette, and a Scandinavian interior style blended with a rural dormer style to make a nod to buildings that were dear to her growing up. The house was to be anything but ordinary; it was meant to excite, provoke thought, offer comfort, and, above all, bring joy to its occupants,” she enthused.

Did everything go to plan or were there any delays/hiccups along the way?

“The project encountered its share of challenges. Spanning 18 months, the construction phase faced delays and logistical issues, primarily due to the unforeseen impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic disrupted supply chains, inflated material costs, and caused project timeline setbacks.

“In terms of budget, while the initial estimate was around €250,000, the pandemic added approximately €100,000 to the costs. However, an astute decision to downsize the project during the design phase helped manage costs effectively and proved to be a prudent financial choice in a market marked by rising material costs,” revealed Karen.

Is there anything the homeowner(s)/ you would do differently upon reflection on this project?

“Reflecting on the project, I think the owner did a great job and I doubt she has any regrets. She was open to downsizing to manage costs, and she was open to fully understanding her design before giving the green light on any decisions.”

“We used 3D modelling throughout the process, so the client could easily grasp changes as well as the overall design. She was very engaged in the project and this commitment was great for everyone on the team.

“Architecture is a powerful tool, and when it is embraced with trust, it has the potential to bring immense joy.

“This project exemplifies the power of collaboration, adaptability, and a shared vision of colour and joy. Despite the challenges and unexpected expenses, the result was a home that not only met the homeowner’s functional needs but also exceeded her aesthetic expectations. It was a project that brought joy to everyone involved and stands as a shining example of what can be achieved when creativity and practicality seamlessly merge into a design,” she imparted.

For anyone who may be about to undertake a similar type of build, would Karen have any words of wisdom to offer them?

“Prioritise collaboration and open communication between the designer and homeowner to ensure a shared understanding of the project’s vision and goals. Embrace flexibility in design decisions, as downsizing or making adjustments during the design phase can be a strategic way to manage costs. Recognise the significance of effective project management. Even individuals without prior construction experience can excel in this role with dedication and determination.

“Seek out and collaborate with tradespeople and professionals who appreciate and align with the unique design vision. Karen Feeney

 

“Anticipate potential challenges, such as those posed by external factors like a pandemic, and have contingency plans in place to adapt to unforeseen circumstances,” concluded Karen.

Source
Words: Emer KellyImages: LOVE Architecture

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