Henrietta Street exhibition on contemporary design in historic settings


URBAN INFILL:ALL 79 ENTRIES to an architectural competition to complete the end of a Georgian terrace on Dublin's historic Henrietta Street will go on show at Dublin City Hall. The ideas competition asked for a non-pastiche design that would fit in with the existing early Georgian terrace built, in brick, on loose Palladian principles between the years 1721-1755.

The empty site came about when the property at number 16 became derelict, was bought by Dublin Corporation and demolished in the early 1950s. It had been part of a larger house, built by Luke Gardiner in the 1740s, that was split into two in 1828.

This was a one-stage ideas competition and so is unlikely to be built. It was organised by heritage officer Charles Duggan, and was designed to address this specific site but also the wider issue of how to take a contemporary design approach in historic settings. "Many solutions tend to be quite feeble," says Duggan who gave the competition a fairly wide brief to encourage wide interpretations.

The strong judging panel comprised Ali Grehan, City Architect, Dublin City Council; Edward McParland, Trinity College Dublin; Eric Parry of Eric Parry Architects in London and Gráinne Shaffrey of Shaffrey Associates Architects, who have drawn up a conservation plan for the Henrietta Street area.

Many of the entries followed the established idea of using lots of glass beside period buildings but the winning design, by Ryan Kennihan Architects, took the main material of the neighbouring houses, namely brick, and played with its form.

"We wanted to make something timeless in the same way that Georgian structures are timeless and brick was the obvious material to use," says Ryan Kennihan of Ryan Kennihan Architects. The brief also called for a suggestion as to the building's use and the architects' decision to have a school/workshop that studied historical buildings, including those on the street, also informed the robust industrial look. "We looked at old mills with their vaulted brick and steel: that language seems to sit well in the block."

Duggan hopes to have a conference next year looking at contemporary designing in historical settings.

The exhibition runs from November 1st to 11th in City Hall