Dublin cultural center
Location Dublin, Ireland
The Dublin Cultural Center is an icon for modern Dublin and Ireland. Situated at a highly visible urban corner, the building has an opportunity to engage Dublin’s historic fabric and define a new paradigm for Irish cultural activity.
The building is split into two volumes, representing the two parts of Ireland: the North and the Republic. The space between the volumes becomes the entry hall, a porous border within the building and a connector between programs. The east volume of the building contains all the gallery spaces. The west volume holds the library, auditorium, workshop spaces, and café. The entry hall is both a divider and a connector, with bridges at upper levels linking different programs across the void. The rooftop, accessible from the café, offers an amphitheater slanting back toward Island Street, making Dublin itself the backdrop to the theater stage.
The building is defined by two unique façades that reimagine local historic architectures as contemporary forms. A Georgian façade made of glass brick shimmers toward Island Street, while a solid concrete Norman monolith faces Bridgefoot Street. The formal language of these walls evoke Dublins past, but their materiality anchors them in the present.
Dublin contains multitudes. This cultural center seeks to capture just some of the city’s complexity, putting creative works on display and activating the street level with different levels of transparency. The workshop spaces, located on upper levels, create fluidity between the arts. Architecture and sculpture studios are located next to each other, separated by a porous wall that allows sight, sound, and movement through. One level above, the painting and photography studios are organized the same way. All four workshops are connected by an open stair, so that artists may freely move between disciplines.
The galleries seek to make artworks accessible to a wide audience. Display furniture is scaled so that artworks are visible to visitors of all ages and abilities. The Architecture & Sculpture Gallery, at ground level, offers seating embedded within the exhibit so that visitors may linger, take photographs, and be immersed in the works.
Finally, transparency and opacity play an important role in the building, particularly at ground level. The façade materials allow light and shadow into the building, while also making activities and artworks visible from the street. The glass brick along the south façade disperses direct sunlight into the library, creating a dappled ambient effect; this type of lighting is appropriate for a quiet workspace. The Norman wall, with openings of different sizes, creates moving beams of light in the Architecture & Sculpture Gallery. The gallery sees dramatic shifting shadows throughout the day.
With a dedicated entry plaza at the corner, the building makes an urban statement and draws visitors in. The plaza acts as a transitional outdoor space, allowing for expanded views of the building from the street and intersection.