Works are now well advanced at 18 Ormond Quay with the structural works complete. This has involved inserting a grid of steel framing to secure the side wall which was leaning towards Arran Street East. In turn, this frame is tied to the building using a mixture of full-scale ties running through the floor voids and smaller ‘bow ties’ inserted through the timber joists, as pictured to the right.
Each room on the upper floors has been laid with plywood sheeting on top of the joists to rigidify the floors into ‘platform’-like structures, tying the building together. All of the original floorboards, each carefully numbered prior to removal, have been reinstated back into their original positions.
One interesting find was that the floor voids were largely free of debris. This is usually only found where 'pugging' was installed as a traditional insulation material, typically made of sawdust, sand and lime. Alternatively, the underside of floorboards in Dublin houses were often plastered prior to the ceiling being erected underneath - again, to offer a degree of sound insulation and limit draughts. This was only found in the first floor ceiling in 18 Ormond Quay, separating the formal living floor from the bedrooms above. As often happens, it had already largely collapsed into the void before the floorboards were lifted, and was therefore cleaned out.
To the exterior, the past few weeks has seen the extensive cleaning of the original brickwork to the front façade using a mixture of low pressure water-washing and limited application of a diluted chemical solution. More stubborn residue of paint and distempers was removed using targeted hand-hammering with small-headed hammers - a slow process that demands concentration and a certain element of stamina!
We are delighted with the result achieved by Nolans Group, our contractors, revealing a clean, dark-hued plum brick that contrasts beautifully with the surrounding ashlar stonework.
The building’s facing brick has somewhat changed colour from its original yellow/gold appearance when it was first erected in 1842 (some of which, in turn, may have been recycled from the previous building on the site). A process of oxidisation and some erosion of the face of the brick has revealed more of a plum colour that had existed 150 years ago. This has particular relevance when it comes to selecting a repointing mortar, as the original yellow ‘stopping’ mortar will not match the predominant plum tones. More on that to follow…
Repointing of the magnificent quoin stones to each side of the front facade has taken place. We decided not to follow the approach often used in Dublin of ‘drawing’ a white mortar line around the stones, as we feel this was not the original architectural intention. Rather, the quoins ought to read as standalone entities with the effect of having the brickwork ‘wrap’ around them.
Therefore, we have opted to use a light-coloured mortar similar to the granite that will read as part of the quoin stones when seen from street level. When the brickwork is fully repointed, the horizontal lines will simply ‘crash’ into the quoins without a vertical division. A subtle and neat arrangement.
Work has also begun on the first stages of brick pointing, involving the insertion of carefully crafted lines of off-white, lime mortar. These will be coloured up with a selected 'stopping mortar', before the vertical joints are tackled. We'll have more details soon.
We’re very excited by the gradual emergence of our stunning late Georgian shopfront. As each layer of paint is peeled off, our hunch about a recycled c.1780s shopfront in the manner of the Wide Streets Commission is proving spot on the money. The quality of the stonework and how it has been pieced together suggests the main body of the shopfront was installed when the building changed hands in 1789, followed by a re-jigging of the stonework and the addition of a stone platband and cornice when the building was hastily rebuilt in 1842-43.
We’ll keep you posted!