They're half a century old now, but seemingly improving with age and 21st century design savvy appreciation — and, they are also back on the price appreciation trial into the, eh, bargain.
The 36 homes built courtyard-style on Cork city’s suburban Blackrock Road, at Dundanion Court, are now considered classics of the Modernist style, and it’s probable the majority of them are now into their second series of owners: in fact, there’s been quite a sales turnover, as well as turnaround, in the past few years.
In the past decade, there have been eight individual resales, from slump time lows in 2014 in the €130k range, right up to €340,000 and €350,000 in 2019.
Among the buyers of late are those with a well-honed aesthetic sense, including several architects, and artists, and it’s more than possible some have been furnished internally with examples of classic mid 20th century furniture, Danish, other Scandinavians too, as well as some more affordable items ‘inspired by’ the greats.
Now, No 24 Dundanion Court is the latest to offer itself to new occupants, and it’s listed at €330,000 with estate agent Adrianna Hegarty of Hegarty Properties, based in East Cork. She says it has a lot of ‘60s period features, and adds that the location, on the Blackrock Road and within a short walk of the village, makes it even more special.
The cluster, in terraces of fours and sixes around two courtyards, was designed by Cork architect Neil Hegarty (no relation to No 26’s auctioneer), who followed his Cork Crawford School of Architecture training with a post-graduation tour of modernist buildings in Belgium, Britain and America.
What he absorbed while away (Mies Van der Rohe was a particular source of inspiration) can be seen in what he left behind in Cork. His Dundanion Court is one of Cork’s better documented niche developments, and it won for Neil Hegarty the RIAI Silver Medal for Housing in 1970.
Hegarty himself went on to become Cork City Architect, and lived for a period in No 1, the best and largest corner site by far within his scheme, which had been built on leased Hegarty family land between Dundanion House and Carrigduve House.
Some of the mature trees long predated the development and some have roots back to the 19th century period gem Dundanion House, but the arrival of the 1850 Cork-Passage West Rail line (now a popular green walking route) left the trees separated from the original Dundanion House’s once extensive grounds.
The houses, so emblematic of the 1960s but rare in Irish design terms, are in stepped rows, and some have car parking and garages too, in clusters.
They have flat-roofs, with distinctive brick and heavily glazed facades, mixed with black-painted cedar. In fact, many of the design elements that were in ’60s vogue sort of came back into fashion here once more, over the past 15 or 20 years, partly due to the improvements in glazing technologies, preservatives and roofing membranes.
The houses have a dual access, with options from the courtyards, deemed to the front entrance, and/or via their rear walled-in gardens.
No 24’s selling agent Adrianna Hegarty says that the four-bed, c 1,250 sq ft No 26 “boasts many of its original features and is a real gem in a superb location.” She’s just starting viewings (some estate agents had continued doing physical property viewings this past week, others are doing them ‘virtually’ with video, etc, ) and says it’s so well worth checking out.
Her vendors have been here for decades, having reared a family at No 24 but now are Co Kerry inclined.
It’s had double glazing installed in a pattern to replicate the original glazing, and has gas central heating in place of the original electric heating.
Its thin-strip cedar ceiling sheeting is still here to be admired, in abundance upstairs, particularly , with a very wooden feel to some of the bedrooms. Doors and presses are often in veneer wood, original to the period, while also redolent of the era are the exposed brick walls internally.
A timepiece particularly is the galley-style kitchen, with a long island with varnished timber framing, white stone tops, stainless steel sink, and smooth electric hob. There’s also a chunky, thick, but shallow, work-surface over a radiator; wall units are in veneered timber, the floor’s tiled and there’s access from here via a glazed door to the courtyard.
Elsewhere, the rest of the ground floor is quite open plan, with a dark tiled floor, there a central brick chimney breast, rough stone hearth and polished stone mantle, and the open tread staircase runs by the side of this feature chimney, part-dividing the kitchen and living area. Interestingly too, up at the landing, there are glazed, timber-framed grid-like screening walls around the stairwell.
While the look is attractively authentic, adding to comfort values now are the double glazing, gas central heating, smoke alarms are fitted, it’s wired for an alarm, and the BER is a D2, well up on the energy performance of this homes when first build, half a century ago
VERDICT: One of the more ‘original’ interior detailed Dundanion Court homes to come to market in recent times. Mid-century design fiends and furniture lovers, get ready to set-dress your new home.
Blackrock Road, Cork City: €330,000
Size: 116 sq m (1,250 sq ft) Bedrooms: 4