He is remembered today mainly for Castlepark Village in Kinsale [BOTM June 2016]
, perhaps more for its iconic imagery than for the real breakthrough he made there, which was to come up with the novel idea that the roads within a housing development could be kept private and not taken in charge by the local authority, thereby circumventing the dead hand of roads engineering standards. As he told Gerry Byrne of the Sunday Tribune on 5 May 1984, “Estate housing is, unfortunately, the preserve of the civil engineer. Even architects, for some reason, have regarded estate housing as the preserve of the engineer because housing standards are engineering, rather than architectural or environmental standards.”
Denis brought the lessons he had learned at Castlepark to Dublin in the late 1970s and early ’80s in a trio of delicious, ground-breaking housing schemes at Martello Mews in Sandymount, Morehampton Mews in Donnybrook and Oak Apple Green in Rathgar. Martello Mews won a Europa Nostra award in 1979, as well as the RIAI Silver Medal for Housing for the period 1977–78. Oak Apple Green won the RIAI Housing Medal for the period 1982–84, while Morehampton Mews, the least known of the trio, was also highly commended.
Frank Cairns, Property Editor of the Irish Independent, waxed lyrical about Martello Mews on 24 February, 1978: “[It] is the finest residential development of its kind I have seen in Dublin and compares very well to the luxury schemes on the Continent … The design of the linking circulation areas is human in scale and diverse in detail. Neither the motor car nor the normal road requirements are allowed to dominate a domestic scene geared for the pedestrian … It comes together because the texture harks back to highly acceptable standards of the past. And yet the trappings of modernity are provided for fully if discretely.”
Gerry Byrne felt similarly about Morehampton Mews: “Faced with the alternative of a single monolithic apartment block in the garden of a Morehampton Road period house, Anderson opted to repeat a similar formula and created a narrow laneway which curves around to the rear of the original house (now converted to apartments). On either side of the laneway, which gets narrower towards the end, he placed a higgledy-piggledy of apartments, studios and townhouses which can only be likened to a Hollywood director’s ideal of what an old-world film set village should look like. It shows what can be done if the rules are ignored.”