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Good mews: from laneway garage to a gorgeous city pad

Mews properties are a typical feature of city living – and this clever design makes the absolute best of their limited floor area.

Source: Alice Clancy Photography via TAKA architects

THE HUMBLE MEWS is a staple feature of laneways in Dublin city – and highly desired for their central location.

However, that urban location means that they are often short of space and squeezed into awkward long, narrow sites as dictated by their position at the end of the gardens of city houses.

This week’s featured renovation saw the architects, TAKA, convert a garage space into a kitchen in order to restore some sense of proportion and space to this lovely home in Dublin’s Ballsbridge. Cian Deegan of TAKA told TheJournal.ie that they were fortunate that the property was the end one of four terraced mews, and therefore could use a side space to fulfill planning regulations that all mews houses have an off-street car parking space.

“That unlocked the rest of the plans and allowed the back of the house to be more generous,” he said.

Another challenge with a mews property is that they typically face directly onto a lane – this tends to be addressed by putting a courtyard or roller shutters between the residence and the eyes of passersby.

In this instance, Deegan reclaimed the front as living space with an inventive screen that dissuades people from looking in, but allows light to pass through to the kitchen.

“The screen allows for some privacy – the depth of the fins, while really thin, don’t allow people to be able to see straight in unless they were to come right up to the window head on.”

Planter boxes were integrated into the screen to create further shielding, as well as for aesthetic purposes:

Source: Alice Clancy Photography via TAKA architects

The kitchen is totally bespoke as is the window seat, constructed of Douglas Fir, designed to make use of what is normally a wasted space.

Source: Alice Clancy Photography via TAKA architects

 

Source: Alice Clancy Photography via TAKA architects

Previously existing walls, which dictated the long and narrow original structure, were removed and a series of loose screens inserted into the house. The one seen here, for example, defines a route through to the kitchen from the front door, and away from the living and dining area:

Source: Alice Clancy Photography via TAKA architects

See those two green beams in the ceiling? Those show how a wall would have bisected that space between the original opening from the street (background) and the garage area (foreground). Reclaiming the garage gave the client a much larger living area to play with:

Source: Alice Clancy Photography via TAKA architects

This wonderful reading nook and screen window at the rear, however, shows one of the wonderful advantages of living in a mews – having access to the view of a mature garden in which they are typically tucked away.

Deegan said: “A key thing was that the back of the property faced out onto lovely mature trees at the back of the original Georgian house – we were able to borrow the grandeur and scale of that garden.”

The business end of the window is at the bottom with the ventilation openings and the functional seat and storage area. The window then allows the eye to travel upwards to take advantage of the vista and see the sky and treetops.

Source: Alice Clancy Photography via TAKA architects

Source: Alice Clancy Photography via TAKA architects

And as a little bit of bonus interest, the use of screens is extended to a mirrored screen on a simple block-built shed at the back, to house utilities and bicycles. It bounces back light into the private outdoor space of the mews.

Source: Alice Clancy Photography via TAKA architects

See more of TAKA architects’ projects, both residential and public buildings, here>

Trying to work with an older extension – a solution>

What’s behind the magic door of this modest streetfront?>

See more in TheJournal.ie’s Renovation Station series>

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About the author:

Sally O'Regan

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