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Timberyard Social Housing

  • Architect:
    O'Donnel + Tuomey Architects
  • Award Type:
    Best Housing (More than 1 Unit) 2009
  • Location: Dublin
Timberyard Social Housing


This project exhibits a strength in both urban and architectural design. At the level of urban design it not only meets the challenge of restoring the city fabric in the aftermath of the construction of the Coombe By-Pass but creates a place of unique character that re-establishes appropriately scaled connections with the surrounding environment. At the level of architecture it expresses a commitment to quality and durability in materials that are characteristic of the Liberties while being sensitive to the identity of the individual in the variety of its external expression.


The development consists of a new housing scheme comprising of 47 dwellings and a street level community facility in the historic Liberties area of Dublin. The project was generated by the construction of the Coombe By-Pass. A backland site was opened up and the urban design requirement was for a new street frontage to heal the wounds caused by the road engineering operation. The design centres on a new public space on the site of a former timber yard, making a residential enclave with a sense of place.
The scheme works between the six storey scale proposed in general along the new Cork Street corridor and the smaller scale of the existing houses behind the site. The windows are offset from each other in the walls to work with the complexity of the residential accommodation within, and to emphasise the continuity of the brick surface.

The development proposes to provide scale, identity and a piece of living city, which connects new development in the area to the historic character of the Liberties.


Dublin City Council were anxious to produce an exemplar residential development in the area and engaged the Architects in 2001 to complete a masterplan for the site which extended from Brabazon Street to the junction with Ardee Street. It was however, decided to sell a portion of the site for private development which would benefit directly from the Tax Incentive Scheme.

Their objective to create a neighbourhood enclave has been handled very successfully. The triangular central space which is narrow at Cork St and opens out to the rear of the site at Watkins Buildings is well formed and creates a sense of place and security for the residents.

The handling of the urban scale from seven storeys on Cork St/ Coombe by-pass to three storeys at Watkins Building works well. This block has large integrated roof terraces to each apartment which afford great views over the city whilst also providing ample private outdoor space. The apartment layouts are generous and varied throughout and provide light filled living areas. All terraces and private outdoor space to the apartments are carefully integrated into the structure creating strong sculptural openings and forms.

The simple materials palette of brick, hardwood timber windows/screens and plain concrete together with the attention to detail by the architects all contribute to a very well mannered development which Dublin City Council will use together with other recently completed social housing schemes as examples of high quality urban redevelopment in the city.