Room to Remove

Room to Remove

Postby GrahamH » Thu Oct 20, 2011 12:42 am

Did anyone see RTÉ One's Room to Improve last night?

Far from the first time, Dermot Bannon, MRIAI, lest we ever forget, quite simply butchered a beautiful 19th century terraced cottage. Much like a house in Stoneybatter featured on the programme and then here on Archiseek back in 2009, where he waxed lyrical about the striking marching ranks of Victorian facades, rooflines and chimneys on the house's street, before proceeding to strip off virtually every element he supposedly appreciated, in last night's case the modest Victorian house he worked on was quite literally left with its rafters tottering on three walls. The entire house was gutted. Yes, it was a modest affair with the usual four-room plan capable of significant intervention, but the approach taken was quite literally one of scorched earth.

Not withstanding the crash and burn erasement of all original fabric to the interior, not even the public face of the house to the street was spared, with the historic sash windows skipped, all associated shutter boxes and shutters skipped, even the entire original fanlighted and bracketed doorcase skipped, and the charming unpainted rough dash render finish whacked off and replaced in smooth painted render sitting proud of adjacent houses.

This was all bad enough, but to have the added insult of the pig ignorance of Munster Joinery double-glazed sash windows installed in their stead, with their trademark sticky-on angular horns and thick timber sections that are viewable from outer space, just beggared belief. Equally troubling from a supposed accredited design professional was the choice of cartoon reproduction doorcase, again courtesy of the world-renouned 'craftsmen' of Munster, with their usual preposterous detailing and sledgehammer attempts at imitating vernacular design.

In all seriousness, how does a design professional get away with this sort of thing on any level, never mind national television? Programmes like this set the miniscule gains we make with architectural heritage back a decade, if not more. These people have no idea how corrosive such crude expositions as this are on the public mindset. It is so destructive for an often uneducated public to sit back and absorb an hour of an accredited design professional not only pushing this sort of practice as being acceptable, but how desirable it is and something to be encouraged.

Adapation of historic buildings for modern use is a topic badly in need of an exposé, but the complete erasement of fabric and memory is another matter entirely, and so shamefully worse still when replaced with a sad, pathetic and fundamentally ill-informed sham version of same. The tone of the whole programme, as ever, was also crass and unhelpful for a public largely devoid of an architectural aesthetic, with references to 'exclusivity', 'location', designer products and luxury fitouts. The irony of the clients agonising over designer German taps and their self-declared superb taste, while demonstrating zero understanding of the ignorance they were installing on the public street, raised more of an eyebrow than a smile.

Such a wasted opportunity.
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Re: Room to Remove

Postby Peter Fitz » Thu Oct 20, 2011 10:15 am

Couldn't believe it myself. Why purchase this type of property only to disembowel not just its interior, but absolutely everything, save a few bricks to the front...

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Re: Room to Remove

Postby Smithfield Resi » Thu Oct 20, 2011 3:30 pm

Ghastly - anyone care to provide an address; would be very interested in the planners report.
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Re: Room to Remove

Postby Paul Clerkin » Thu Oct 20, 2011 7:16 pm

Seriously, why bother?
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Re: Room to Remove

Postby wearnicehats » Thu Oct 20, 2011 7:18 pm

Peter Fitz wrote:Couldn't believe it myself. Why purchase this type of property only to disembowel not just its interior, but absolutely everything, save a few bricks to the front...

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now hold on a minute here. We're in danger of losing the plot. Firstly - I didn't see the programme because I think DB is a tool but, that aside, there's a difference between someone who should know better not doing so and an innocent homeowner wanting to create more space

Peter - people buy what they can afford. If they aspire to extend then good on them. Nothing wrong with an extension - without them the AAI would have no awards to give out. Graham's issue is - I hope - the missed opportunity of informing people of the intrinsic value of what they have.

The loss of the period detailing is indeed a terrible shame, as are the windows shocking. But don't be so arrogant to think that someone who has bought a house can't knock the arse out of the back of it.
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Re: Room to Remove

Postby Peter Fitz » Fri Oct 21, 2011 1:58 pm

wearnicehats wrote:Peter - people buy what they can afford. If they aspire to extend then good on them. Nothing wrong with an extension - without them the AAI would have no awards to give out.


Extending or aspiring to extend your home is not the issue, how you could take that from my original comment is bizarre.

My simple point was that I do not understand the logic of buying a period residence, only to completely gut the interior, and further, I don’t think home owners should be allowed to entirely erase the inside of a period dwelling unless the place has been officially condemned as beyond saving.

If it has been condemned, replica’s should obviously be true to the original, and whatever can be saved, like perfectly sound shutter boxes, should be.

The decision to flatten the place in this instance seemed to be hatched between the builder & QS on the basis that it was quicker, cheaper, sure it’s tiny, and now we’ll have a free run through with the wheelbarra.

DB arrived back after a week to see the result, claiming he should have been informed, and he should in fairness.

You’d like to think however, that the value of the existing structure should be the basis for architect/client discussion from the outset, obviously it wasn’t & Dermot didn’t seem to be long getting over the shock of the demolition either.

wearnicehats wrote:But don't be so arrogant to think that someone who has bought a house can't knock the arse out of the back of it.


The arse was knocked out of the entire house, that is the issue. Home owners have every right to extend from the rear, but with this type of residence, at least make an effort to work with what you have.
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Re: Room to Remove

Postby wearnicehats » Fri Oct 21, 2011 2:33 pm

Peter Fitz wrote:
wearnicehats wrote:Peter - people buy what they can afford. If they aspire to extend then good on them. Nothing wrong with an extension - without them the AAI would have no awards to give out.


Extending or aspiring to extend your home is not the issue, how you could take that from my original comment is bizarre.

My simple point was that I do not understand the logic of buying a period residence, only to completely gut the interior, and further, I don’t think home owners should be allowed to entirely erase the inside of a period dwelling unless the place has been officially condemned as beyond saving.
.


I was referring to the bit where you said "Why purchase this type of property".

You're effectively suggesting that all "period" (definition?) houses should be listed.
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Re: Room to Remove

Postby GrahamH » Fri Oct 21, 2011 3:05 pm

The obvious meaning of asking about bothering to buy this type of property, is that it is clearly not what the owners wanted. They wanted a contemporary home with sweeping glazed walls and crisp lines, and yet purchased a dinky late Victorian cottage. As a result, the cottage - and the public street - was the victim of their thoroughly misplaced intentions.

Not only did they not want an historic home, they evidently didn't care for a contrast between the best of old and new either. And as Peter mentions, the architect had no discussion with the clients about the merits of what they had, nor did the first 15 minutes of the initial stage of the programme even highlight the fabric of the existing building, with discussion limited to the 'great light' in certain rooms, and how the house, in its exclusive environs, was effectively a 'mud hut', even through it was demonstrably built of robust Dalkey granite.

Programmes like this, as we have learned to appreciate from the UK, rely heavily on an informed and principled presenter or protagonist architect/builder. Because this standard is so ingrained in television audiences, to have the likes of Bannon and his QS not making so much as a squeak in an ask-no-questions approach to conservation, sustainability and design principles, is thoroughly damaging to the public perception and understanding of the built environment. The implied demonstration of 'what can be achieved' with modest old buildings gets horrendously blurred with 'what can be done if you burn them out and start from scratch'.

Images on the contractor's website also showcase the "stunning craftsmanship" of the new MDF panelled window reveals with sticky-on beading, and the shocking appearance of the new makey-uppy facade, amongst other factors.

This programme typified everything that was vulgar and ignorant about the boom years, and something that RTÉ consistently reflected and continues to peddle in its paltry coverage of the built environment.
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Re: Room to Remove

Postby Peter Fitz » Mon Oct 24, 2011 5:34 pm

wearnicehats wrote:You're effectively suggesting that all "period" (definition?) houses should be listed.


I’m suggesting that dwellings where original detail & styling consistent with a particular era have endured, be respected.

Blanket definitions aren’t possible or practical. However, given that every architect cannot be relied upon to ensure the merits of protecting period features are understood, and in many instances no architect is involved - the planning process will have to step up, and where necessary prevent home owners from gutting sound period dwellings.

The result of indifference is a proliferation of empty vessels that scar the urban fabric.

Meaningless pockets of mediocrity that are to me almost more offensive than a new build pastiche.
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Re: Room to Remove

Postby wearnicehats » Mon Oct 24, 2011 8:12 pm

Sorry but you can't do it piecemeal. Where do you stop? You can take away a light socket but not a ceiling rose? You either protect an interior or you don't. I'm not saying that it's a bad idea but freedom of choice will prevail unless it's taken away. And taking it away will prevent people buying leading to dereliction.
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