Modern two-storey gem with daring design stands out from the crowd

THE design of 21A in Cork’s Sunday’s Well is very much cast against type.

There’s a certain orthodoxy and period style in this salubrious inner suburb, just a short uphill walk from the city centre. Houses here, with Grand Circle views over UCC, public parks and sports amenities and greenery, are generally 19th century, veering from Georgian to Victorian, with some latter day early 1900s examples of architecture too.

Completely of its own time though is 21A, a modernist home built in the early 2000s, in a certain internationalist style, a sort of updating of a 1930s “white box/cube” prototype.

Built in the back garden of an almost colonial looking 1900s magnificent detached home set below the road, it follows the sensible design maxim of “match design for the site”. So, its layout, on an almost precipitously steep escarpment, is all about maximising the southerly aspect, and picking up the views.

It makes no architectural apologies for standing out from the neighbours, which is a sort of neat conceit – especially as the architects who designed it live/work very close by. Alongside, in fact.

21 Sunday’s Well is home and office to architects Jack Coughlan, and his office produced this design on the main house’s original garden grounds for a family member, who is now selling 21A for a move to west Cork. It has surprises galore: main one is the amount of space, and the number of internal levels.

From the road, you’d suspect this might be a small enough, two-storey house. However, it has its accommodation ranged over six levels, effectively half levels, with the best rooms all to the front with windows/glazing taking up almost all of the south-facing walls, and two of the bedrooms then are to the side/back, on the half-return levels, with views and light almost stolen from smaller set-back windows on the south western side. Estate agent Michael O’Donovan of Sherry FitzGerald seeks €525,000 for the unusual offering, which will have a strong but niche appeal. Key strengths, he says, are the location, the aspect, the great views, and the fact it is detached and has off-street parking for two cars.

There’s around 1,700 sq ft of living space, he calculates if you factor in the open stairwells.

There’s a top floor living room and an en suite bedroom above, a mid-ships dining room/reception, with kitchen off to the side with well-crafted simple units in maple and with a marmoleum floor, while there’s also an en suite ground floor master bedroom which opens directly the house’s only outdoors space (except for the parking area,) a compact fenced-in deck.

The only other access to this outside space (crying out for funky container landscaping, tree ferns etc) is from the third, rear bedroom’s side door. Any chance, one would have to wonder, of a balcony and steps down to here from the dining area?

Even though no 21A is only seven years old, it needs a bit of an extra upgrade now in terms of finishes and decor materials: buyers looking for uber-cool architectural spaces (such as this has the potential to be) to house their art and contemporary furniture will want to spend a bit extra to get to that level. It has the easy-keep appeal of an apartment, wrapped up in the shape of a bespoke, site-specific detached house with parking, and it has space, a good spread of rooms, three sleeping rooms and three bathrooms in all.

Its €525k price will draw strong viewers apart from the merely curious, and keep agent Michael O’Donovan busy for while. At the western end of Sunday’s Well, he has the attractive period terraced home no 57, with huge gardens, under strong viewing at €650k, while he has also just sold a 930 sq ft two-bed apartment at Lisin for just under the €400k mark.

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