Thursday, 27 August 2015

Image taken from

Open House Dublin: Seven Weeks to Go!

It is seven weeks until the Big Housing Debate on Wednesday 14 October which kick starts the 10th edition of Open House Dublin. This free weekend is presented annually by the Irish Architecture Foundation (IAF), a celebration of the city's best architecture, when buildings of all types and periods open their doors to allow citizens to explore. The theme of Open House Dublin 2015 is titled This Place We Call Home which focuses on domesticity and urban space. 

Image courtesy of Carson & Crushell. Photo by
David Grandorge
I am so excited about the 2015 programme! It is killing me not being able to blurt out all the buildings, the walking tours, exhibitions, etc. As the Programme Coordinator I feel like I am the midwife to such an amazing October life force. An energy that inspires people to open their buildings to strangers and sharing their space, creativity and stories. In the length of time of a tour, all the occupants of that building are experiencing the same moment of getting inside the head of the architect or client and the realisation of the brief, together creating a living, breathing home. In my interview for the job back in June, even those I had first hand experience organising the first Open House Limerick in 2012 I was stumped at the question "describe Open House." I asked could I take a moment as I wanted to give this worldwide phenomenon the justice it deserved. I even got to meet Victoria Thornton who traveled to Limerick to launch ir's inaugural Open House. This was the woman who began it all in London over two decades ago. My most rewarding moments so far are those when I'm on the phone to a property manager and they are so surprised that their building was chosen by our curator as they didn't deem it special or important enough. We get to show them their familiar building with fresh eyes. They make the common mistake that good design means a certain cost located at certain addresses in the city.

All I will say is that there is the highest ever number of private houses and apartment blocks than there has ever been for Open House Dublin and over double the usual number of walking tours. Homes which have been confirmed in the first press release include Home in Rathmines, home of (and by) Ireland's most celebrated architects Sheila O'Donnell and John Tuomey; 23 Leinster Road, the renovation and conversion of an early Georgian townhouse by A2 Architects; Richmond Place, the home and studio of Carson & Crushell Architects and a "spiritual" home: the Holy Faith Spirituality Centre in Glasnevin by MOLA Architects. These are all new to the Open House programme. 

View from inside No.10 Henrietta St.
Photo taken by writer.
I am lucky enough to be able to count A2's Peter Carroll and Rosaleen Crushell of Carson & Crushell amongst my friends and it's a delight to be working with them for such a worthwhile event. Additionally I have my own fondness for MOLA. My father when I was little worked for Murray O'Laoire in their Limerick office. I can remember my mother sending me up to their brown brick office building on Glentworth Street, to let my father know we were outside during his lunch hour, as she waited in the car feeling ever so grown up. I can't remember being inside that first floor office but I can imagine I stood at the reception announcing something to the effect of "I'm here to collect my Daddy."
Returning favourites from previous years include the Iveagh Trust Museum Flat (Nellie's Flat) in Dublin 8 and No.10 Henrietta Street, one of the oldest buildings on one of the oldest streets in Dublin. The aim of this year's Open House is to highlight buildings that have shaped how we live now and the Big Housing Debate should hopefully inspire new ways of living better in the future. It really is one of the most pressing topics of our generation. Everybody needs a home and it's the one thing that binds us all together in this city. 2015 marks 30 years since the setting up of what is now Focus Ireland by Sr Stanislaus 'Stan' Kennedy. I was told by one of the architects giving a walking tour for Open House that her mantra was always "Everyone is entitled to a place called home." 
Former Pathology Building. Home of
IAF until they move in early 2016.
Home is such an evocative word. If I reach into the very pit of myself and meditate on the word 'home' it conjures up my family house in the 1990s. Our deep red brick bungalow, nestled in our sleepy little cul-de-sac in the suburbs of Limerick, before we got a proper driveway and landscaped the garden. At least once a week someone in the house would ask "will we go feed the ducks" which meant a walk by river, passing the Corbally baths and the 'red path' up to Athlunkard Bridge, down the Corbally Road with the Irish Estates on your left and St Munchin's on your right, turning at the junction down the Mill Road homeward bound completing the loop. The fields that once contained horses and cows are now housing estates. As an adult I found that in a short space of time Dublin fits me comfortably. It struck me that it does particularly on days when I cross the Liffey. I'm most at home in a city with a river running through it. It'll never have the same impact to me but the Liffey is a close second to the Shannon. Home is different things to different people, to those of us fortunate to have one. It is the most personal place you will ever invite people into so a huge thank you to everybody opening their doors this October in the wonderful city we all call home. 

Keep an eye out for all the latest Open House Dublin news on Twitter @IAFarchitecture and please use the hashtag #OHD2015 and on Facebook. Below are images of my home away from home until the end of October on Hatch Street.

1 comment:

  1. Love, love, love this! I especially loved your thoughts on what "home" is for you. It's a weird coincidence, I was just having a similar discussion with another friend about the exact same thing. We moved so much when I was a kid (between the USA and Ireland multiple times & within the USA as well) that the longest I ever lived anywhere was 7 years. But now, I have lived in my current house & home (stateside) 10.5 years and the word "home" means something entirely different to me now. It's my safe place, it's where I go to shut out the world, it's where my spouse & animals are and it's where I go to only interact with the people/animals I choose & want to interact with.

    So while "home" used to be "wherever my stuff is this year", now it is a sanctuary, a place where I feel safe. The house is a living & breathing entity in its own right. And I feel that way about one particular house in Ireland that has been a constant since I was a child & it's where I still go when I am back. So there are 2 places in the world that are home for me. Thank you so much for writing & letting me drone on as a result 😎😎👏🏻