Established since 2008, Fergus Flanagan Architects are a progressive RIAI registered Architects practice with locations in both Dublin and Wexford. Building Ireland touched base with Fergus Flanagan recently to discuss the ins and outs of this thriving business and the projects it has on-going at the moment.
This year marks a decade-and-a-half in existence for Fergus Flanagan Architects and business has seldom been better for this tried and trusted practice.
With offices in Dublin and Wexford, the company employs six full-time and specialises in providing the full range of architecture and design services to both domestic and commercial projects of every scale.
This past February saw Fergus Flanagan Architects relocating its Dublin base from Fitzwilliam Square to a modernly deigned office at 58 Upper Georges Street in Dun Laoghaire.
It’s a move that that the entire team have been delighted with, according to Fergus Flanagan, whom took some time out from a busy schedule to fill Building Ireland in on some details of the business.
“A lot of the staff were working at home since Covid and we sort of realised we didn’t need a big office in Dublin,” he outlined.
“So, we got a new office on Georges Street and moved into it in February of this year and it’s a glass at the front, beautifully designed office.
“As for the staff here, there are only six in total and that’s deliberate. We’ve made a decision to keep it tight and not expand too much, so there’s only six in the practice. That’s all.”
For Fergus, it’s always been about quality over quantity and – 15 years later – his architecture firm is arguably in a stronger position than it has ever been, even with the many challenges that are out there at the moment for practices like his.
When asked about the overall state of business at the moment for the company, the Dublin native response was a very welcome one to hear as he went on to reveal details of handful of interesting projects that it has on at the minute.
“Business has been incredible to be honest with you,” he beamed. “On the commercial front, we’ve never been so busy. We also just achieved planning for a five-star nursing home which is just outside Wexford Town.
“I’ve a client in Canada who is Irish that had this land and he wanted to do a nursing home and I suggested to him ‘Listen, why don’t we do something special here? Why don’t we do a five-star nursing home?’.
“So, this nursing home has swimming pools, steam rooms, saunas, it’s got a bar in it, coffee shop, first floor terraces, landscape garden terraces, a courtyard and a cinema in it. It’s got everything you could imagine in it and it’s looking out at the sea as well.
“It’s a truly unique project that we’ve just got through planning.”
Elsewhere, the practice is immersed in a couple of commercial projects in the south east along with a hugely exciting house extension in Dalkey which is set to grab headlines everywhere once completed, as Fergus explained.
“Other bits and pieces that we have are a Business Park that we’ve got planning for and another hotel that we’re working with in Carlow which is a huge extension,” said the Managing Director.
“Various different housing estates and apartment blocks and then, on the domestic front, we’ve got one really special project in Dalkey. It’s a €7m extension to a house, so that’s a copper-clad curved glass extension to a house and we’ll be starting on site in the next two months on that one.”
Busy times indeed.
Even throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, Fergus Flanagan Architects more than held its own with domestic projects that mostly included extensions and conversion works.
“It was really strange because when Covid kicked in, to be honest with you, I was nervous,” Fergus admitted.
“I was thinking we’d just got through the recession and were just starting to make profits and then this bloody thing comes along. But, in fact, the opposite thing happened. People were sitting in their houses for two years looking at the hour walls and they were thinking we need to do something with this. You know?
“Even with the advent of people beginning to work from home, you started to see people starting to return back to Wexford and rural parts of the country and they were asking ‘Why have we got a million-quid mortgage in Dublin when we could have a palace in Wexford and work remotely?’.
“So, we started getting people relocating from high-paid jobs and moving down to Wexford and the phone just didn’t stop ringing. Everybody was trying to do some sort of conversion.”
Of course, one of the lasting negative impacts from those unprecedented times for companies like Fergus Flanagan Architects have been the spike in construction material costs.
“Something that should cost €400,000 is now coming in at €900,000. It’s just gone absolutely crazy,” Fergus stated.
“A sheet of plywood is traditionally about €25, that went up to €60. It’s just after coming back down now and we’re just starting to see that turn again with things coming down, but the biggest thing now that worries me is the price of building.”
With costs now gradually coming down and levelling off, things are perhaps more a bit more positive than they were this time last year for the construction industry.
At Fergus Flanagan Architects, the plan is to keep up the high standards of work that it’s known for amongst its clientele.
Ask Fergus himself why he feels clients choose his practice first ahead of other competitors out there and he’ll tell you it comes down to a combination of different factors.
“I think it’s the design. It’s also the software that we use,” he said.
“Again, our clients in Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi, Australia…We’ve this software where we actually design it for them and send it down to them and then we communicate through Zoom or emails where we can change it or amend it for them.
“So, the software is definitely the thing and we think it’s the design as well. Then it’s the simple little things on top of that.
“When I lived in Germany, what they are big into over there is if you phone them, they’ll always ring you back on the same day and I brought that into the business.
“So, people are never struggling to get in contact with me. My clients have contacted me pretty much five days a week and, sometimes, six days a week. If you phone me, you’ll definitely get a phone call back and all my staff are the same.
“It’s just a matter of courtesy and I think that it goes a long way.”
Looking towards the months ahead for the business, the Managing Director is as optimistic as ever going forward towards a 16th year for the practice.
“We’re looking forward to a series of projects being realised and, hopefully, just keeping up the same amount of them that we’ve been building over the last couple of years.
“It has been increasing and increasing, so hopefully it can stay like that,” he concluded.
Fergus Flanagan Architects
No 58 Upper Georges Street,
Co Dublin, A96CX3K
Email: [email protected]
Tel: +353 1 9065404
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 353 539185147
This article was published in Building Ireland Magazine, August 2023, Vol 9 No 8