Open House Dublin 2013 – 100 Great Buildings

Lisa Cassidy
Posted September 16, 2013 in Arts and Culture

BIMM January 2018
Bello Bar

As you may or may not know, Totally Dublin have become media partners with the Irish Architecture Foundation‘s Open House Dublin 2013 Festival and in the middle of the September issue of Totally Dublin you can find (and pull out) a map of the 100 fantastic buildings that are made open to the public over October 4th to 6th. On top of that, Lisa Cassidy of the excellent Built Dublin blog guides us through some particular highlights.


100 Great Buildings

For the eighth year of Open House Dublin, a three-day architecture festival organised by the Irish Architecture Foundation, over half of the buildings opening their doors to the public are in the programme for the first time. The festival’s proposition is pretty simple, answering a desire many of us feel in the city – wanting to have a look inside buildings – and doing it with a guide to put the design in context.

The 2013 programme is taking a pretty big leap from the previous format, focusing directly on the building visits. Instead of a theme, the 100 buildings were chosen for being really, really good and interesting, with as many as possible being new to the festival too. Some will be very familiar from day-to-day life in Dublin, made new by focusing on their architecture, while others represent private homes by young architects or buildings probably only well known by the communities they serve.

There’s absolutely no way to visit all 100, even though every single one is worth seeing. From previous years, there are claims of people hitting about 40, probably half-dead and discovering the Dublin strain of Stendhal Syndrome by Sunday night, queasy at stuccowork, panicked by concrete. If you prefer your weekends without health warnings, a little bit of planning your route goes a long way, as does modest ambition: pick a cluster around the same area, maybe, or go deep on a particular decade or building type.

 The Chocolate factory_Donnelly&Moore_c

Here’s one version of a good but not exhausting few days:


If you’re free to wander buildings on a weekday, you can get a good head start on the festival with the small selection open today. The most spectacular start would be with an overview of the city from the Etihad Skyline at Croke Park (10-2 Friday-Sunday, lottery), with a stroll around the roof between platforms 44m above ground. The Chocolate Factory (10-5 Friday/Saturday) on King’s Inns Street doesn’t reach quite so high, but the conversion of the 1910s Williams & Woods factory into a vibrant creative space is packing design and DIY moves into every inch, right up to the rooftop farm.



Start off with a building whose surroundings have been totally transformed since construction. Originally sitting by the Broadstone canal and harbour, with an aqueduct spanning the road in front of it, the former Midland & Great Western Railway Station (10-5 Saturday, 12-5 Sunday) remains impressive on its elevated site by Constitution Hill. Downhill, the small Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation in Arbour Hill (Saturday 10-5) has a beautiful interior modelled on a Byzantine basilica, housed in an exterior that was originally a Victorian school. Nearby in Stoneybatter, there is another strikingly beautiful interior on a smaller scale in the Dublin Artisan Dwelling (Saturday 12-5, lottery), transformed by an ingenious intervention by Tom de Paor and also featuring a kitchen taking cues from Mondrian and the Eameses.

At the heart of the Markets area, the Victorian City Fruit and Vegetable Wholesale Market (Saturday 1-5, lottery) is worth a visit for a good look at the elegant ironwork in the roof, as well as the amazing terracotta fruit and vegetables between the façade’s arches.

Hop on a bus out to the airport and finish your afternoon at the cluster of great projects open for the afternoon. Our Lady Queen of Heaven (Saturday 1-5) is a revelation, a brick church by Andrew Devane with a calm atrium and modern stained glass, so beautiful and quiet you’ll want to keep it secret. The old Terminal (T1, Saturday 10.30-4, lottery) is much more familiar to most of us, but it was a landmark modern building at the time of construction, designed by Desmond FitzGerald and the Board of Works, with a solid grounded façade on the land side, opening out on the curved façade to the runways. In Terminal 2, the stylish, crafted Oak Café & Bar (Saturday 10-5) is a small project by De Paor Architects, and a fine lesson in how to define space without enclosing it.


Shake off the previous night with some fresh sea air and one of two Dun Laoghaire tours that will make good use of the imagination. The Central Library and Cultural Centre (Sunday 2-4, lottery) is currently a large building site by Moran Park, and the ‘tour’ will look at the design thinking and the brief behind this big civic space. The former Royal Victoria Baths (Sunday, 12-3, lottery) ended their Rainbow Rapids days in the 1980s, but the complex was an amazing leisure facility in its heyday, built to use the tides to drain and refresh the saltwater pools.

Back in town, stop at the small Kiosk (Sunday 12-3) at Leeson Street for a closer look at one of Dublin’s prettiest utility buildings.  From there, you’re going to want to make the biggest possible jump in scale to Google Docks (Saturday 1-5, Sunday 12-3, lottery), the city’s highest commercial building, providing your panoramic view of the day and a look at the building’s unique, colourful interiors. Beside the outer Grand Canal Dock, finish off the day in style at the Marker Hotel (Saturday 1-5, Sunday 2-5), open since March and drawing conceptually on Ireland’s rock landscapes, making the most of its spectacular view with a rooftop bar. Or, if you’re looking for a more grounded end, head for the Phoenix Park to Teach Íosa at St. Mary’s Community Nursing Unit (Saturday 1-5, Sunday 2-5), a beautiful patient-focused unit with wards following a cloister model.


Dublin Dental Hospital

Some other strategies:

A Modern Education

This year’s buildings in Trinity College include some of the best 20th and 21st century additions, some with a slight Marmite factor, all with serious architectural merit. Grafton Architects’ sophisticated extensions to the 18th century Parsons Building (Saturday 1-5) make their site’s considerable challenges look easy and at the same quiet end of the campus, McCullough Mulvin’s Dublin Dental Hospital (Saturday 10-2, lottery) makes bright new space within existing buildings through judicious insertions. McCullough Mulvin appears twice more, with the iconic Long Room Hub (Sunday 12-3) on Fellows Square, and with the Ussher Library featured in the Berkeley-Lecky-Ussher tours (Saturday 1-5). Also on Fellows Square, Ahrends Burton Koralek’s bold 1960s transformation of the square with the Arts & Social Sciences Building (Saturday 10-5) and their Berkeley Library. At the edge of UCD’s suburban campus, there’s the mixture of Masonic and modern at UCD Richview (Friday 10-12, lottery), where architecture students bite their nails in the gorgeous surroundings of the quadrangle, and in the north city, two beautiful DIT colleges are open: Bolton Street (Saturday 10-1) and Cathal Brugha Street (Saturday).


Extra Ordinary

There’s a lot to be said for visiting the buildings you can’t get into otherwise, but there’s a ton to see in buildings we usually trudge through instead of thinking too much about the design. The General Post Office (Friday and Saturday 10-5) isn’t exactly obscure, but visiting with an architectural focus makes for an interesting story about demolition and reconstruction, and the interior of the public hall is really very beautiful. Connolly Station (Saturday 10-2) is a complex with a long history, well worth exploring when you’re not rushing for a train. A major institution in the north city, the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital (Saturday 10-3, lottery) comprises three major phases spanning from its original 1855-61 hospital to the contemporary Whitty building, each shaped by the healthcare needs of its time and featuring many interesting aspects you might have missed while sick or visiting.



Some of the clusters outside the very centre of the city centre would make a good set, whether for a half-day or scattered across the weekend. In Dublin 6, there’s the crafted, contextual Ranelagh Multi-Denominational School (Saturday 1-5), the Energy-efficient Retrofit and Extension in Ranelagh (Saturday 12-5) by Joseph Little, the recently renovated, grand Rathmines Library (Saturday 10-2), the 1950s modern Synagogue (Sunday  12-1, lottery), and Lucy Jones’  domestic transformation at the House on Eaton Square (Saturday 10-5, Sunday 12-3).

Around Inchicore, the 1930s Inchicore Library (Saturday 10-5) and Donaghy & Dimond’s contemporary Extension to the Model School (Sunday 12-3) are a well-rounded pair, and you’re not far from the Phoenix Park cluster, including the State’s statelies (Farmleigh, Saturday 10-5, Sunday 12-5, Áras an Uachtaráin, Sunday at 11, 1, 3 by lottery) and Teach Íosa at St. Mary’s Community Nursing Unit (Saturday 1-5, Sunday 2-5), an exemplary contemporary healthcare project. Back across the river, Scoil Mhuire Ogh (Saturday 10-5) on Crumlin Road is a very successful and intelligent three-storey extension, while in Crumlin, Eamon Peregrine Architects’ Courtyard Extension (Saturday  10-5, Sunday 12-5, lottery) is a beautiful contemporary domestic project.

For up-to-date details, family events, and information on accessibility, see or September and October are hectic months in Dublin’s cultural calendar with the Dublin Fringe Festival, the Dublin Theatre Festival, Culture Night, Arthur’s Day, Flightfest and a multitude of other events making up what is now known as festival season. So if you are considering a trip to take part in Open House Dublin 2013 or any other events within the city, why not consider trivago to find your accommodation while staying in Dublin.




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