Accessible Architecture: Open House Dublin 2009

For a long weekend every autumn Open House Dublin offers free tours of buildings most of which are normally not accessible to the public. Architects and other volunteers do guided tours of fascinating houses, give museum talks and hold debates for everyone who cares about Dublin’s architecture. The programme is impressive and incredibly all the events are free.
gate green room

The Green Room at the Gate

I managed to make it to a few of the tours on offer this year. As I love Eileen Gray’s work I thoroughly enjoyed the tour through her permanent exhibition at Collins Barracks. I also attended a debate provocatively entitled ‘Can Architecture Save the World?’ which brought up some very interesting issues to do with living spaces, urban lifestyles, health and innovation.

gate hospitality room

The Hospitality Room at the Gate

I also did a tour of the Irish Aid building in order to understand the thoughts behind its concept a bit better. It always struck me as cold and quite intimidating coming in from the street for the first time. Many of my friends seemed to have never even heard of it (it’s located at the top of O’Connell Street). Getting insight into its design and what the architect had to work with to make it work given the existing structure helped to answer a few of my questions. I still think the information/reading area should be moved to the front, so passers-by can see that it is a place to get information about the work Irish Aid does and volunteering opportunities abroad.

law society tour

Tour of The Law Society

On the Sunday I managed to see the Law Society at the bottom of Stoneybatter/Smithfield, which, interestingly, used to be a school and at the time it was built was more or less situated at the very edge of Dublin. I also got a fantastic tour of the Gate Theatre by its very approachable and enthusiastic front manager (fair play to him, didn’t expect so much dedication at all). We got to see the whole backstage area, the hospitality room for guests, the green room (my favourite of all the green rooms I’ve seen so far and it actually IS green) and he even let us climb behind the set to get a view of the auditorium, all very impressive. The new wing with a purpose-built rehearsal space and various offices must be such a relief for them given the tiny space the existing building offers.

garden tour

Kaethe Burt-O’Dea giving a tour of the Sitric Road Community Compost Garden

The most unusual tour was surely that of the Sitric Community Compost Garden just off Manor Street. How lovely to turn the corner and to discover this little green jem hidden away just metres away from the hustle and bustle of the main street.

cat at garden

Definitely my animal picture of the month!

There is also an adorable little corner shop, Lilliput Press occupies a building at the corner and the Joinery art space/gallery is also in the same area. Was extremely impressed by all of it and it reminded me so much of San Fran or Amsterdam, both with neighbourhood communities who dare to be creative, open-minded, inclusive and fun. Just loved it!

shop and bike


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