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IRELAND’S FIRST PASSIVE HOUSE PHARMACY Late last summer, work finished on architect Paul McNally’s latest super low energy project: a three-storey building in Tipperary that has just become Ireland’s first certified passive house pharmacy. Words: Lenny Antonelli Since 1927, the Quirke family has been running a pharmacy on the main street in Clonmel, Co Tipperary. The original building on their O’Connell Street site was over 200 years old, but in poor shape. “It was in a bad, bad state of repair,” says current proprietor Ronan Quirke. “It was always my intention to do something with it.” For a start, the dispensary was too cramped for his staff. “The old space that they were asked to work in for many years was appalling,” he says. The shop also suffered from a low ceiling height, poor layout and lack of insulation. Upstairs in the three-storey terraced building was a residence that hadn’t been occupied for at least 40 years, which was just being used

for storage. Quirke approached architect Paul McNally of the Passivhaus Architecture Company, who had previously designed a low energy extension to Quirke’s Georgian home on Anne Street in the town. They looked at the possibility of retrofitting, but there were so many structural issues that retaining the old building would have required serious interventions, and would have been expensive. “To make the upper floors usable to modern standards would have taken a huge amount of work,” McNally says. Meanwhile the shop was “a mess spatially. It was a nightmare really to work in, and it was freezing.”

Quirke decided to knock the old building, which wasn’t a protected structure, and rebuild from scratch. But he was insistent that whatever building replaced it last a lifetime — he didn’t ever want to have to renovate again. “I only wanted to do this once. I certainly didn’t in 20 years want to be faced with a further patch job,” he says. “I wanted to future proof it,” he says. Construction costs had bottomed out at the time too, which meant he could get more bang for his buck. Quirke asked McNally what the highest standard he could build it to was, and McNally told him about passive house. But Quirke says: “It also had to be cost-effective. I wasn’t going to keep throwing money at the project just to achieve certification for certification’s sake.”

Profile for Passive House Plus (Sustainable Building)

Passive house plus issue 10 (UK edition)  

Passive house plus issue 10 (UK edition)