Winning idea turns Central Bank into school

Architects’ firm wins ideas contest on uses for Dame Street building when bankers move out

Designed by GKMP Architects, the repurposed Central Bank on Dublin’s Dame Street would have classrooms on each floor and a library on top.

Designed by GKMP Architects, the repurposed Central Bank on Dublin’s Dame Street would have classrooms on each floor and a library on top.

 

The Central Bank in Dame Street, Dublin, would be turned into a high-rise secondary school by the winning entry in an ideas competition to find “innovative and exciting” ways to recast the building after its current occupants relocate to North Wall Quay in a few years.

Designed by GKMP Architects, it would have classrooms on each floor and a library on top. “It’s very clever”, said Carole Pollard, of DoCoMoMo Ireland, which organised the competition. “If we really want to get people living in the inner city, we need more schools.”

As the jury’s citation said, “turning over one of the city’s largest and most centrally located buildings over to Irish youth is a radically empowering and optimistic gesture . . . without eroding the structural integrity of Sam Stephenson’s original design.”


Dante’s Inferno
The student prize went to David Lawless of DIT School of Architecture, who reimagined it as Dante’s Inferno , with each of the seven deadly sins occupying a whole floor. Thus, Lust is a strip club, Greed a bookie’s shop and Gluttony an all-you- can-eat buffet.

Sloth becomes a grind school for slothful Leaving Cert students; Wrath become a new radio studio for RTÉ’s Joe Duffy; Envy features a screen projecting images of Ireland’s rich; and Pride would permanently exhibit republican and loyalist murals from Belfast.

Danteum for Dame Street, as Lawless called his project, was described by the jury as “witty and humorous but equally astute” as it would use the bank building as “a vehicle for society to acknowledge its demons” in an architecturally sophisticated way.

The best presentation award went to four architects – Brian Barber, Amelie Conway, Dominic Lavelle and Joe Swan – for their stripped-down version of the Central Bank “in a state of partial destruction with a semi-open park spiralling around the existing lift cores”.


Gaunt monument
Others suggested leaving only the two service cores as a gaunt monument to the banking system’s collapse, or turning the building into an eco-hotel, a museum of modern art or apartments for people who lose homes through repossession.

In total there were 58 entries for the competition, including several from abroad. A Spanish team proposed converting the building into an “Institute of Irish Identity” – one of its main themes would revolve around drinking, appropriate for Temple Bar.

An exhibition of all the entries as well as a timber scale model of the Central Bank by Res Publica was officially opened last night and continues at the Irish Architectural Archive, 45 Merrion Square, until April 26th.

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