A Block in Temple Bar
by Sheila O'Donnell & John Tuomey
O'Donnell + Tuomey Architects spent ten years working on one block in Temple Bar, the cultural quarter of Dublin, Ireland.
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We started on conversion of the former Quaker Meeting House into the Irish Film Centre in 1986. Meeting House Square, with the National Photographic Archive and the Gallery of Photography, was opened to the public in 1996.
The Quakers had accumulated a cluster of overlapping properties, which they built up around the 17th-century foundations of their mid-block meeting house. Our site-specific strategy for the new film center — comprising new interventions, surgical demolitions, simple conversion, and invisible mending — was intended to continue the process of gradual change and incremental adaptation that had characterized the historical development of this complex site.
The opportunity for new building was limited to the edges, with an opened-up courtyard forming the heart of the project. Four pedestrian routes from surrounding streets connect to the glass-roofed foyer, which, by its stone and steel floor, pigmented rendered surfaces, and lines of neon lighting, integrates the new cinema uses with the old urban fabric. The building cluster accommodates various aspects of film culture, including two movie theaters, a film archive, bookshop, restaurant, bar, education rooms, and film production offices.
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Sheila O'Donnell and John Tuomey are principals in O'Donnell + Tuomey Architects, Dublin, Ireland.
This article is excerpted from O'Donnell + Tuomey: Selected Works by Sheila O'Donnell and John Tuomey, copyright © 2006, with permission of the publisher, Princeton Architectural Press.