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Dublin’s Backlands: A Skillful Renovation by Ryan W. Kennihan Architects

Lindsay House, Dublin, IRE / Ryan W. Kennihan Architects

Irish practice Ryan W. Kennihan Architects has skillfully renovated and enlarged a charming redbrick house in Dublin. The extension at the back of the house beautifully captures the essence of Dublin’s unique ‘backlands’, thanks to the meticulous research conducted by the talented team at Ryan W. Kennihan Architects. Taking inspiration from the Victorian neighborhoods of Dublin, famous for their narrow lanes and lush linear gardens, the architects have created a design that seamlessly blends with the surrounding environment.

Lindsay House, Dublin, IRE / Ryan W. Kennihan Architects

These spaces, ranging from manicured gardens to auto repair shops, showcase a wide variety of structures. The architects observed that these backlands are a maze of buildings, representing different architectural styles spanning the last two centuries. From pitched roof architectural stone mews buildings to turn-of-the-century concrete and corrugated sheds, and from well-proportioned 1940’s temple-like concrete garages to 1990’s off-the-shelf steel sheds, the mix of styles is hidden behind the public-facing front buildings of the city.

Lindsay House, Dublin, IRE / Ryan W. Kennihan Architects

Ryan W. Kennihan Architects recognized that the formality of these backlands buildings tends to diminish the further they are from the front of the house. The facades transition from orderly and sometimes self-conscious designs connected to the house to utilitarian and informal conglomerations towards the rear. With this understanding, the studio developed a design for the renovation and extension of this existing redbrick terraced house that embraces the rich and haphazard building culture of the backlands.

Lindsay House, Dublin, IRE / Ryan W. Kennihan Architects

In their design, Ryan W. Kennihan Architects utilized materials that resonate with and reconfigure the ordinary elements commonly found in the backlands. Concrete, corrugated sheet, metal hoppers, and downpipes were transformed into a formal façade that harmonizes with the existing house. The architects skillfully played with symmetries, shifting them from the interior to the exterior orders. Although the addition may appear somewhat foreign when juxtaposed with the brick Victorian house, it seamlessly blends into the hidden world of the city.

Lindsay House, Dublin, IRE / Ryan W. Kennihan Architects

Throughout the project, Ryan W. Kennihan Architects faced the usual challenges of creating spatial generosity while providing structural support for the existing return structure. However, their expertise and innovative approach allowed them to overcome these difficulties. Understanding the clients’ desire for a harmonious atmosphere that complements their collection of furniture and art, the architects made light and structure the anchors of their design. By prioritizing these elements, Ryan W. Kennihan Architects ensured that the renovated house would not only meet the clients’ needs but also create a cohesive and visually pleasing space.

Image courtesy of Shantanu Starick