We got in touch by phone two weeks ago when Dublin was level three and Cork seemed to be heading in that direction. “Level three is great, Ciara,” he happily assures me.
“But I feel sorry for the business and for the restaurants. They fight the way it is and they try to do their best. I wish someone would just set an end date for all of this and everything would be great. “
All in all, the spring lockdown wasn’t bad for our favorite architect. He had just started filming the next season of Incredible Homes and was back from Canada preparing to travel to Spain when the world screeched to a halt.
Spain announced severe restrictions the day before the team left, forcing it to postpone its plans. “Jesus, imagine we were over there?” He says. “We would be stuck there and have to go on one of those return flights where they have to come and rescue you.”
Comfortable in his new home in Clontarf, Dermot and his family embraced the idea of Hygge.
“We cooked in our favorite restaurants and got takeaway, and we did well,” he explains. “At the beginning there was an incredible novelty, with this feeling of freedom almost: ‘Oh thank God, we don’t have to go to the office’. I used to be so busy that I wished everything could be interrupted for a week. Then it happened and it was very weird and I’m not going to say that part of me didn’t enjoy it. It was nice when someone else told us to stop, there was no other choice. “
With a lovely garden and the ocean just a short walk away, the Bannon family settled down in the spring and summer and embraced nature with barbecues and fire pits.
The Incredible Homes team decided to focus the season’s focus and focus the rest of their production time on Ireland and the incredible homes across the island.
That meant something else, of course: Armed with a special letter from RTÉ, Dermot was able to gallop across the country during the lockdown.
“I didn’t know if to Instagram because we were shooting in Donegal while the rest of Dublin was closed,” he says. “I was allowed to travel because it was for work, but I found it strange posting pictures of myself traveling around.”
And you would have been devastated on social media too, I suggest. “Well, you’ll always get that, won’t you,” he replies.
Dermot had an inquiry when it came to the Irish homes featured on the series. You had to be able to teach him something.
“You could go to an amazing cliff top house with a beautiful view and a large balcony that overlooks the sea. That would have looked incredible and would have been really nice, but would I and the audience have learned something from it that they didn’t know ready? “
While Dermot taught us as much about the country as it did about his homes in Incredible Homes season one, an Irish focus had to take a different approach.
“When I went to Sweden, the houses were built around the fact that in winter these houses are dark from two o’clock and don’t really get light until eleven o’clock. So how do you design for extreme darkness and long time? Winter? When we were in Australia it was all about humidity and heat – each country has its own weather and culture. Everyone in Ireland already knows. There was no point in saying: “Oh my God, it gets very wet and very humid here” – everyone already knows that. “
This season will teach us all to appreciate the size of a house and its capabilities, says Dermot. “Some of the houses are fissile, but I hope that in the cases where you may not like some of the houses in the beginning, in the end you will understand and see all the merits.”
When it comes to his favorite house, Bannon is anything but shy. “I’ll choose one, I won’t be a politician in this case. One house I’ve been dying to get into for the past 10 years was designed by one of my heroes named Níall McLaughlin in Goleen, Cork and built in 2009. It’s just breathtaking. “
Before Covid, almost every time Dermot Bannon got on a train, he was approached by someone who carefully worked out the plan they had in mind for their own house – often on a paper napkin – and then asked his advice. Given that it has clearly been a while since a Bannon Clinic has been open for business, I decide to ask him to solve what I consider to be the nation’s architectural problems.
Now that we all have a full toolkit that we bought on Amazon during the lockdown, will DIY usurp banana bread in winter? “Look, I’m not going to tell you it’s okay for someone to start pulling down walls in their houses, okay?” He laughs. “Most construction accidents happen in people’s homes when they don’t know how to do the job properly. So no – don’t start with that. “
How do we open our homes after we all work from home? Can we erect movable walls with ease, I wonder? Can we buy them from Ikea? “We used to do this in the 1970s because there weren’t any restaurants to go to,” he says. “Everything happened in the house. Back then we had the good rooms – the dining room and the good living room, so you had places people could go on a Friday night that felt different from the rest of the week. They had rooms that were used for special occasions. “
Our homes, says Dermot, need to start becoming chameleons. “We need more multifunctional houses,” he explains. “We need large rooms so that we can work. It also has to be a cozy intimate space. It’s really difficult for people to charge their batteries in the room where all the charge was discharged in the first place. If you are working at the table, it will be very difficult to sit in the same place and have a relaxing meal, for example. ”
Lighting is the best way to get around this, he suggests. “It’s a bit like in a theater where there’s a play where you put lights on one part of the stage and then you drop them and light up another part and it seems like you do several See stages, but you’re only looking at one. Our houses have to be a bit like that. “
His own new house, which we all know very well because we saw it renovating on TV, is not an open plan, but a broken plan. “We made an L-shaped kitchen and living room. So when you are in the living room you don’t feel like you are in the kitchen, but you are. If we turn off all the lights in the kitchen and dining area and have little light in the living room when the fire is on, it shrinks to that very space. “
As a man working on projects that can last a year or more, Dermot Bannon tries to get the hang of the Covid-19 specter, but even he cracks sometimes. “The hard thing is not knowing when it’s going to end. What do we do for christmas This is the kind of time you might hang out with friends, go to dinner, or go to the pub. If I don’t know when this will all be over, I’m having problems with it right now. “
With a winter of broken planning and the transformation of our homes into cozy nesting places ahead of us, the brightest glimmer on the horizon is that Sunday nights will be what all Sunday nights should be from tomorrow, because Dermot Bannon will be back with us on screens.
- Dermot Bannon’s Incredible Homes will air on Sunday October 18 at 9:30 p.m. on RTÉ One and on RTÉ Player.
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