Project: D2 Townhouse
Architect: Jake Moulson
Lead roles in JM: Robert Berry and Stephanie Gallia
Full team at JM and assistance: Alicia Borkowska, Aoife Donnelly, Adelina Fasan, David Hemingway, Bradley Roast, Kristin Trommler
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Photography: Tim Crocker
Situated in the heart of Georgian Dublin, a now largely commercial area, D2 Townhouse is a 5-storey dwelling, sandwiched between offices and car parks. Distinguishing it from neighbouring townhouses is its substantial garden, which contains one of the few remaining original coach houses in Dublin. This complete, rare Georgian domestic typology, with a simple classical façade to the rear, marks D2 as singularly important in conservation. Discovered as an unoccupied office, in a state of extreme overgrowth and disrepair, and with a series of increasingly insensitive and utilitarian additions, when Jake Moulson was invited to begin work on the D2 Townhouse in 2013, it was in urgent need of attention. Invited to restore the building to a single family home, Jake Moulson’s aim was to revive and amplify its original spirit, applying contemporary experimentation, daring and ingenuity, reigniting its spatial drama and making it an oasis in Dublin’s city centre.
Proposing D2 Townhouse as a nucleus for fantastical departure, JM’s approach has been holistic and itinerant. Looking to each corner and detail, and to all the building’s possible atmospheres, every aspect of it, both physical and historical, has been brought into rhythmic interplay. Riffs are initiated between imagined pasts and projected futures, leading to gradations and non-sequiturs of materials, tones and technologies. Augmentation of the building’s existing, astonishing light, through interventions that allow it to flow between micro-spaces, makes each window, room and door a directional layer, opening onto the next. An accumulation of deep, inhabitable bays, viewing platforms, light-boxes, light-capturing devices and reflective surfaces frame the sky and redistribute it into the house. The building’s formal front melts into the garden and rear. Its grand, imposing entrance retreats to a softer, lined connection to the roof. Scorched timber corridor gives way to cantilevered and patterned iron-clad toilet, brass pantry, godless chapel for the family’s art collection, and a geological, sci-fi kitchen.
Every one of JM’s interventions is bespoke. The cuts/removals, the additions, linings and the furniture are all part of JM’s architectural vision. The design includes a unique cast-iron cladding system, digitally prototyped with a repeating and changeable pattern, a bespoke laser-etched Adamesque steel floor, a kitchen curtain in thermo-formed Corian, an onyx-lit under-stairs toilet, wild whiplashes of colour, idiosyncratic inserted joinery and mirrors dissecting views and sharpening light.
Simultaneously, conservation best practice has been applied to every aspect, including using breathable materials, lime renders and custom solutions such as pressure-differential ventilation voids to the lower ground floor to draw away moisture.
In the Coach House, custom frameless glazing has been added along the eaves over the rafters, alongside a glass floor to take light down to reimagined and re-purposed stalls whilst incorporating bat cavities, to protect and fortify local ecologies.
Channelling the D2 Townhouse’s Georgian inheritance, with its formality and flamboyance, JM wanted to reinvigorate an imagined life, give the house back its body, to re-dress it sharply against the aged grit and grain of its surfaces, and to love where it had been neglected. An uncompromising project, where the utmost consideration, craft and innovation were poured into each minute and macro detail, every successive glimpse and angle offers a departure. The result is a disorientating and seductive compression-piece – of temporalities, palettes and aesthetics, mixing dialogues between art, architecture, design, science and fictions, from the intimate to the flamboyant, and from the restrained to the spectacular.