Rethinking Dublin’s north inner city
A group of design students have taken a look at some unused historic buildings north of the Liffey, and imagined how they might be repurposed
Attracted to “the abandoned romanticism” of Aldborough House, Norwegian student, Jenny Graatrud’s vision for this neglected landmark is as a museum of Irish film and costume design. Cinemas, exhibition spaces, cafes and a shop are all included, together with workshop, restoration and training spaces in the basement. Graatrud wanted to bring “this desolate building back to the dramatic”, and her images of a restored Aldborough house, with its formal gardens to the front reinstated, makes you realise what a resource lies behind the locked gates and high stone walls.
Also behind high walls, Rosaline Walsh’s project looks at turning the Our Lady of Charity Refuge, a former Magdalene Laundry, to the rear of the convent on Seán MacDermott Street into a museum dedicated to the story of women from the area over the past 250 years.
“Initially I shied away from the idea,” says Walsh. “The building was eerie and it frightened me, but then I realised I was in danger of shoving its history under the carpet, like we all have done. And I thought those women deserved a voice, even if it was only the small one I can give them.”
Walsh’s vision for the building includes a memorial garden, and takes visitors through from the days of Georgian opulence, to the present day. “I wanted to put emotion into the space,” says Walsh, who hopes to work in museums in the future.
Italian student Victoria Ueberegger looked at developing the Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic church on Seán MacDermott Street. Built in 1954, dwindling congregation sizes and a change in the make-up of the local community mean that a good deal of the site goes unused.
Ueberegger’s solution is to refocus part of the building as a community centre, with a library, cafe and exhibition space, allowing it to maintain a role within the Catholic community, while also functioning as a centre for cross-denominational gathering and support.
As McDonald says: “We’re conscious of what is expected of our graduates as workplace needs evolve. The impact of buildings and the repurposing of buildings matters in neighbourhoods.”
Patterns of ownership change, social policy shifts, politics fail, but these projects show how interventions, whether small or large, on our current architectural stock, could change the fortunes of a whole area for the better.
Just Imagine runs at Darc Space Gallery, 26 North Great George’s Street, Dublin, from next Monday, September 9th-Sunday 15th. darcspace.ie