Tag Archive for Conservation

River House – Kilkenny

 

 

There is something magical about being so close to the water.

From the very first visit we felt this was a unique location and we wanted to make the most of it. The brief asked for additional accommodation to meet current lifestyle demands.

 

 

 

The site presents a number of challenges, including a house over 150 years old, the proximity to a Special Area of Conservation (River Nore),  the existing topography, and so on…

 

 

Early in the design process a strong direction was identified as being the one that would respect the existing wood while taking full advantage of the river views.

 

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The proposal calls for an adaptive reuse of the existing house. The new volumes create an amicable relationship with the old house, mimicking it in a contemporary way.

A new axis is created to link the different elements. This axis regulates the space by creating a clear circulation path that works like a journey of discovery around the house. The light and views are captured and framed to enhance the all experience.

The main living space offers a full open view to the river. Framed views of the surrounding landscape are provided by projecting windows that puncture the main structure.

The concept resolves the complex constraints on site by designing a house that is in harmony with the site and with the existing old house, which dates back to the early 1800’s or possibly late 1700’s.

 

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The main living space offers a full open view to the river.

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Framed views of the surrounding landscape are provided by projecting windows that puncture the main structure.

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100-Year-Old Chimney Breasts

 

Accurate conservation of a building requires historical research. When we work with old buildings we often have to study the construction methods used many years ago so we can propose and develop an appropriate approach.

Intervention in old buildings must be based on knowledge of the works and techniques of the past. Old books and/or illustrations are one of the sources regularly used to understand historic buildings and devise appropriate intervention.

Chimney breasts in Party Walls 1916 Jaggard and Drury

Chimney breasts in party walls by Walter R. Jaggard and Francis E. Drury, Architectural Building Construction – Vol. II – Cambridge University Press

 

Here we share with you a beautiful illustration from Vol. 2 of the Architectural Building Construction book by Walter R. Jaggard and Francis E. Drury. with a 1st Edition dated from 1923. The authors illustrate in Detail no. 20 of their book the construction of chimney breasts in party walls. The illustration is beautifully hand drawn and is self explanatory. However, we highlight some of the text that accompanies it:

Jambs – Jambs to the sides of fireplace openings may project to any required distance but must be at least 9” wide, and, if the projection be more than 4 1/2” and the width less than 13 1/2”, the jambs must be tied by a caulked chimney bar of wrought iron (or steel) where an arch is employed to support the breast walling above.

Thickness of flue walls – The brickwork surrounding a flue, in jambs, breasts and stack, must be at least 4 1/2” thick.

Size of flues – While some local authorities require dwelling house flues to be at least 14” (13 1/2”) x 9”, this size of flue is not specifically mentioned in the Model Bye-laws. The adoption of the above size is due to a provision in the Act for the Regulation of Chimney Sweepers and Chimneys, 1840, but it is now generally adhered to, 9” x 9” flues being common.

Pargetting – All flues must be pargetted, viz. rendered inside with lime or cement mortar as the flues are built, unless lined with square or cylindrical fireclay tubes.

 

Isabel Barros is a RIAI Architect Accredited in Conservation at Grade 3. Please contact office@isabelbarrosarchitects.ie if you need assistance with your Conservation project.

Old Buildings: Why Things Go Wrong

 

 

Old buildings do not behave like new ones. Taking proper care of them requires skills that most owners (and contractors) do not have.

When things go wrong with an old building it is most often associated with:

  1. Improper repairs;
  2. Lack of maintenance;
  3. Lack of understanding of how the building works.

 

 

There are a number of interventions that can have an adverse effect in old buildings. Typical examples are:

  • External or internal cement rendering.
  • Cement pointing.
  • Introduction of heating at too high temperatures.
  • Impermeable plastic paints.
  • Waterproof coatings.
  • Sealing up disused chimneys.

 

Brick damaged by cement render at Brandon House Hotel

Brick damaged by cement render at Brandon House Hotel

 

Improper cement pointing in brickwork, Wexford town Post Office

Brickwork with improper cement pointing at Wexford town Post Office

 

Improper cement pointing in brickwork, Wexford town Post Office

Lime pointing well visible behind this improper cement pointing at Wexford town Post Office

 

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Spalling of brick and inadequate cement repairs at Spawell Road, Wexford. Luckily the brick cornice survives!

 

Inadequate cement repairs at Brandon House Hotel

Inadequate cement repairs at Brandon House Hotel, New Ross

 

Non permeable paint

Blistering and peeling of a non-permeable paint. Image courtesy of Historic Scotland.

 

A fine example of lime pointing at Kilmainham Court, Dublin

A fine example of lime mortar pointing at Kilmainham Court, Dublin

 

A fine example of lime pointing at Brandon House Hotel, New Ross

A fine example of lime mortar pointing at Brandon House Hotel, New Ross

 

 

There is little point in covering up problems if you do not find the source of them and repair the real problem.

It is important to know when specialist advice is needed. It is a false economy not to get the best advice before having work carried out. Bad repair works can be difficult and expensive to undo. They can damage a building in the long-term and devalue your property.

Isabel Barros is a RIAI Architect Accredited in Conservation at Grade 3.

 

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