Rathmines Houses, Fairfield

North House and South House are two siblings with shared values but distinct personalities.

Both are designed around passive solar principles, using a central courtyard and high ceilings to provide warming winter sun and natural ventilation. But they each address the public realm in their own unique way. One is open and transparent, extroverted, while the other is more reserved and private, while still exuding a quiet confidence of its own.

We designed these two new houses for the BuildHer 8 and BuildHer Collective who led the development and interiors. The team in their unique joint venture sought to push the traditional boundaries of property development with a focus on good design integrating sustainability in a speculative dual-occupancy sub-division development.

They came to us with a large piece of land in Fairfield with the intention of building two distinct houses, as opposed to two typical attached townhouses. The original block had a generous width which allowed the houses to be detached from each other at the front on the ground floor level and for the entire upper levels. This allowed us to design two very distinct aesthetics with space between.

The main challenge was the orientation, north to side, meaning that one house would receive unobstructed sunlight but the other would be more challenged to obtain its share of light. But despite their differences they work together. North house’s first floor is set in from the boundary adjacent to south’s house’s courtyard to allow sun and daylight into its sibling’s living rooms.

With deliberately different forms and palettes of materials they read as two distinct houses while being complementary. Their distinct personalities are followed through to the interiors where Alison Lewis Interiors and R&Co Design Studio designed the cabinetry, materials, forms and furniture that complement the exteriors and emphasise the intimacy and interest in the changes in volumes and levels within the houses.

With an emphasis on more sustainable development both houses have seven star energy ratings, all-electric appliances, 9.1kW solar systems with Powerwall batteries and electric vehicle chargers and of course use recycled bricks.


Project Team: Ben Callery + Tim Shallue

Builder: Beirin Projects

Developer: BuildHer 8

Interiors and Styling: North House – Alison Lewis Interiors, South House – R&Co Design Studio

Photography: Dylan James