How a pocket scheme in Killiney is imagining new homes for the city’s millionaires

Arkle, Killiney, Co Dublin

Asking price: €1.425m

Agent: Savills (01) 6181300

Imaginary buyers are important. Behind every new development is a team of experts who imagine who their buyers might be and, in turn, come up with a plan to create their imagined dream home.

With so much at stake, it’s not hard to imagine why most developers will go with bog standard proven cookie-cutter designs.

Being different with new homes in a conservative market is always risky. That’s especially true with a pocket scheme in an expensive location, which needs to be aimed at the top segment of the market to recoup the investment. Get it wrong and it can cost you dearly.

Behind a niche scheme like the recently completed Arkle in Killiney, Co Dublin, where the homes cost €1.425m, the team consists of the developer (the brains and cash of the outfit), the architect (the creator) and the interior designer (the artist).

The brains spends years thinking of the right scheme and making the calculations, acquires the ground and goes to the creator to bring that vision to life. The creator then takes that build to the artist, and it all comes together.

When architect Barry Kane was approached by developer Frank Murphy, he knew immediately what to expect given that he had worked with him on other builds.

“Frank really wants to push the boundaries a little bit and do something different. He doesn’t want to just replicate what everyone else is doing,” says Kane.

The site already had planning that was a number of years old when Kane came on board. This sought demolition of an existing house and to build three “fairly standard” houses in its place. What Murphy wanted was to look at a more contemporary design solution and increase the density along with that.

“We managed to go from three houses to four decent-sized houses,” says Kane. “The issue planning authorities had with the previous plans was that along Avondale Road, all the other houses have frontage out on to the road.

“On the side of Avondale Road that we were located, it was the south-facing garden to the front and a north-facing garden to the rear.

“So we looked at a radical move to flip the houses by creating one driveway in from Arnold Park, which serves the four houses on the northside of the dwellings, and the rear gardens now face on to Avondale Road.”

The payoff was that the houses would get the benefit of the best sun and daylight. The planning authority saw the sense in it and gave it the thumbs up. Hurdle one jumped.

“The vernacular along Avondale Road was detached, gable-fronted houses so we wanted to replicate that. What we did was take that shape and split it in two and then pull it apart. So the vernacular has been retained by pairs of houses rather than each individual detached house.”

The result is four four-bedroom detached houses with a space between each pair that gives the look of one gable-fronted property. All houses have a floor area of 2,066 sq ft, with views of Killiney Hill to the rear and sea views from the front bedrooms.

The houses are quite wide, so to break up the brickwork, a balcony was created around the master bedroom on the outside of the build so the buildings didn’t look too blocky. Inside, Kane worked hard to come up with something different for the ground-floor layout.

“There is a lovely staircase right in the middle of the building and we’ve formed a little courtyard area on the ground floor just opposite the stairs, so there’s a sense of relief in the middle of the plan, with a large roof light in the middle of the stairs so the centre core of the house is a real floodlit area, which really helps to break the monotony of traditional layouts,” he says.

The ‘Killiney effect’ proved to be a positive factor in how far he could go.

“You can afford to spend a little bit more on the build because, possibly, you’re getting people who are more cognisant of design and want something a bit different.”

Next on board was interior designer Sara Cosgrove. “It’s nice to see something that’s creative and different, using interesting materials,” she says.

“We felt these will be creative homes for creative people who are interested in sustainability and better living, so that was a really important part of it for us. A lot of the fabrics were recycled and a lot of furniture was ethically crafted. It even went down to our deliveries and how much of the packaging was being recycled.

“You want active spaces where the family can congregate and then you want spaces for the adults in the home to escape to. You’re trying to layer in all the experiences and live a day in their lives.

“You want moments of joy, like the Fornasetti wallpaper by Cole and Son that goes up to create a feature staircase, and draws your eye up to the roof light and activates the whole central core of the home. And the monkey wallpaper in the powder room from House of Hackney is such fun.”

The kitchens are by Jonathan Williams in Oval Room Blue by Farrow & Ball. They come with a Quooker tap and Siemens appliances, as well as a Bosch washer and dryer.

The show house comes fully furnished, which put extra pressure on Cosgrove to come up with a design that would please all interested parties.

“It’s metropolitan-contemporary with soft tones,” she says. “It had to feel warm and welcoming. With colours, there’s a commonality of palettes, so there are no jarring areas where you go into a room and there’s a big feature wall hitting you in the face.

“The externals are very architectural and strong, and we didn’t want to overwhelm that. You have to be respectful of the building you’re working with.”

Kane adds: “At the end of it all, sometimes the visualisation is carried out and you think, ‘god, I hope it looks like that’ and with Arkle, it looks exactly like that, if not better.”

The show house at Arkle opens this weekend by appointment through Savills new homes department.

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