Open sesame to Dublin’s grand designs
Open House weekend is a chance to check out some of the city’s best-loved or seldom seen architecture, with the added insight of an architect, steward or owner
Peter Carroll’s house on Lucky Lane. Photograph: Marie Louise Halpenny
Courtyard extension by Eamon Peregrine. Photograph: Ros Kavanagh
EnerPHit retrofit And Passivhaus extension by Joseph Little Architects. Photograph: bNEW Photography
Alliance Française Dublin. Photograph: Vincent Lavergne
Casino at Marino. Photograph: National Mons Service Photo Unit
Number 31 Leeson Street, Dublin 2
Ranelagh Multi-Denominational School. Photograph: O’Donnell Tuomey Architects
Rathmines Library. Photograph: Dublin City Council
The Orchard Day & Respite Care Centre. Photograph: Niall McLaughlin Architects
Imagine the best property pages, interiors magazines and glossy architecture books all rolled into one and come to life. That’s Open House, the annual three-day event that allows us to check out some of Dublin’s most fascinating and fun buildings, with 100 homes, offices, places of worship and pleasure palaces opening their doors next weekend.
Organised by the Irish Architecture Foundation since 2005, this year’s tagline is “from the obvious to the overlooked”, which means you can explore Áras an Uachtaráin, Farmleigh and the Casino at Marino; and you can also dip into the Shanganagh Bray Main Drainage Scheme, the Kiosk at Leeson Street Bridge and Donnybrook Bus Garage.
Open House takes buildings we may visit or use – Rathmines Library, Ranelagh Multi-Denominational School, the Marker Hotel – and adds the perspective of an architect or steward, and sometimes also the owner, to help to bridge the gap between looking and really seeing.
At the Alliance Française, spot stone carvings by the O’Shea Brothers, which are also the subject of a brilliant exhibition by Sean Lynch at the Hugh Lane (until Sunday; hughlane.ie). And at the Trinity School of Nursing, marvel at the extravagance of the art deco interior, influenced by the period’s fascination with Egypt, following the opening of the Pyramids.
Just as intriguing – if not more so – Open House also includes private homes, the secret spaces and places you might have glimpsed from the Dart or Luas, small wonders in suburban back gardens or hidden behind otherwise ordinary façades. Some are new-build, others are extensions, and the opportunity to see what’s possible, even with a small space and a limited budget, can be inspiring.
Voice and style
Barry O’Mahony drew up a list of how he wanted to live, while sitting in his dark and draughty livingroom. “I wanted light, space, and something that had a connection with this lovely long back garden. I wanted one of those spaces where you walk in and it feels nice,” he says.
The original house dates from the 1940s and O’Mahony chose the architect Eamon Peregrine, “because I looked at examples of his work, and he has a voice and a style”.
The result, listed in the programme as Courtyard Extension, is an award-winning wooden structure, where angles wrap around spaces, and the back of the house opens up to a sheltered terrace, framing garden views.
“It wasn’t too expensive,” says O’Mahony. “It cost a little more than I’d planned, but I can’t even add up how happy I am with it.”