After a ‘down-time’ hiatus Kinsale Convent Garden scheme is finally delivering on heavenly views, says Tommy Barker.
Hats off to Haroldo Oliveira – the Brazilian architect’s vision for Kinsale’s Convent Garden development with Cumnor Construction is paying dividends on site, and sightlines, nearly 15 long years after the Mercy Convent and its elevated town grounds were first acquired for development.
Launching from this weekend are four of the overall development’s most dramatic, and most visually engaging homes, adding to the mix not only here on Convent Hill and Winter’s Hill, but also on the harbour town’s overall skyline... they’re pushing into the uphill views from the town centre, harbour and Scilly Walk, as well as from Ardbrack.
The vision that was there since the early 2000s is only now visibly coming to fruition, after a long market ‘down-time’ hiatus. And the temporarily ‘frozen’ view of the windowless backs of a row of townhouses has now, thankfully, disappeared behind later rows of slate-hung townhouses.
While that ungainly view was there during the ‘lull’, it made the scheme’s overall look very much caught in a state of undress. Now, all's changing, for the very best, and the more-fitting finery is being unveiled once more.
The four most modern, three-story villas released this month in the titled Winter’s Lane corner niche of the seven-acre development are the best yet, only marginally bigger at 2,250 sq ft than that earlier phase of more traditional style townhouse and detached. But they look and feel utterly different, with deep sheltering carports, old, stone walled-in back gardens, mid-level 340 sq ft viewing terraces, and top floor eyries, villa-esque crow’s nest perch for harbour scanning views.
Most crucial are that all four Winter’s Lane homes have those all-important Kinsale harbour views, variously ranging over the town, Scilly dam, water, across to the ‘Millionaire’s Row’ of Ardbrack, and out over the town’s historical built roots such as James Fort, from much earlier centuries.
Unabashed in their modernity, with flat-cap membrane roofs, and angular Pigmento Red zinc trim on both the vertical and the horizontal as a signature sign-off, they are broad-beamed builds, getting smaller with each of the next two upper level floors, all on concrete slabs, with triple glazing, and an A2 BER stamp of energy efficiency.
There’s nearly a pyramid reduction in floor areas as you rise internally, in fact, and the layout is sensibly ‘upside down’ to get at those views that Jack Coughlan Associates’ director and architect Haroldo Oliveira cannily knew would be there to stretch out for.
So, entry level, under the deep canopy of car-port cover and past a huge aluminium, fortress-like doors, has four bedrooms, two of them with en-suites and huge expanse of mirrored walls serve to expand the views from the exterior.
Ceiling heights are a bit above the norm, all the way up, and an open tread stairs with beech steps leads to a first floor, open plan kitchen/dining/family room, with a long run of Elmar kitchen units right into a tucked-away larder. Units were sourced from Treviso in Italy, with durable Gres porcelain top and sink, and Neff ‘hide and slide’ ovens almost out of sight of the crisp and clean lines.
The entire back wall is glass, triple glazed Aluprof sliders opening to a 340 sq ft decked terrace on an elevated concrete base, edged by frameless glass balusters: this rear terrace and the views it offers are the clincher for the design, allied to the top/second floor’s family room, extensively glazed once more, with integrating wood-burning Stovax fire, under an integrated display/TV cabinet by Cloghane Wood Products.
That top spot, plus the big decked terrace, hit all the necessary ‘high end’ Kinsale living marks, suggest enthused selling agents Evan O’Toole and Catherine McAuliffe, Residential Director with Savills Cork: they say Kinsale is now very much an international destination, with Cork’s airport only a 14 mile drive away, making it almost a work/life commute for those doing business in London.
They’ve been on board at Convent Garden for Cumnor for two years now, where there’ll be 58 houses in all, in a variety of sizes, plus 26 large apartments to follow, in the original 1840s built convent buildings. Crowning glory, apart from those sizeable apartments in the period build section, will be seven c 3,000 sq ft build, as the final coda, plus these four 2,250 sq ft four-beds at Winter’s Hill.
Dublin-based designer and supplier Helen Kilmartin of Minima has done the fit-out spec for Cumnor Construction, working with architect Haroldo Oliveira (his Altus apartment development in Cork city’s Sunday’s Well is a triumph) and the just-completed showhouse (with art curated by Nuala Fenton, including work by local Katherine Boucher Beug is open this weekend, 12 noon to 2pm.
Savills can expect it to be another busy weekend: they clocked up 600 visitors to the launch of a city-suburban showhouse, at Aylesbury, Ballintemple, last weekend, with five sales by Monday.
Minima is going since the late 1990s, and designer Ms Kilmartin says Kinsale is her favourite spot when she’s outside of the capital, working for private clients in and around the town up to now, and flat-out this past week at Winter’s Lane for Cumnor’s Eddie O’Mahony and architects JCA.
Design feature include sections of vertical louvres in a variety of woods, from walnut to limed oak, depending on rooms’ use, and flooring is a mix of Hayz engineered plank timber and tiling, with thick limestone and granite bedding in the exterior garden and car port trim, where landscape design is by Cunnane Stratton Reynolds.
The BER’s an A2, with wood-stove almost as a visual back-up to the Daikin split level heat pump, with underfloor heating, and heated aluminium towel rails.
The block-on-flat and slabbed floor build is crowned with ‘warm roof’ insulation and asphalt finish, and aluminium-trimmed parapet upstands, while walls are a silicone painted Kilsaran render.
Oh, and prices? Well, the middle two, Nos 2&3 are €920,000 and €930,000, and No 4 which has the best views and the largest south-facing back garden (double the size of any other’s) is €950,000.
All three go on sale from this weekend, with local, national and overseas interest confidently expected, and last to be offered at Winter’s Lane will be the show unit, certain to top the €1m mark, in a town which has had at least six €1m-plus sales in the past two years.
VERDICT: Effectively individual homes, in a larger development, that’s growing all the more in stature, and in a blessed elevated setting.
Size: 209 sq m (2,250 sq ft)