Zaha Hadid and the Taoiseach's House;
design competition for the Irish Prime Minister
|Image taken by Emma Gilleece|
Interestingly Zenghelis entered a second design with Rem Koolhaus alongside collaborators Alan Foster, Stephano de Martino and Ron Steiner (No. 29).
The intended site was in the north west corner of the Phoenix Park along the long diagonal route of Chesterfield Avenue. The images are taken from zaha-hadid.com/architecture/irish-prime-ministers-residence/. Below them is the description of the entry by the practice.
The brief also called for a Guest House on the site of the former Apostolic nunciature, at a cost of approximately £4 million. The prize of £6000 was allotted for the winning practice and £2000 for the runners up. The winning design was produced by London firm Evans & Shaler Architects. The practice of Eldred Evans and David Shaler was established in 1965 and had previously won design competition for Broadclyst Village for the National Trust in Devon and later in 1981 they produced the winning entry for the Royal Military College Library in Shrivenhan.
The Assessors' Report for the competition is dated 10 October 1979 (NLI holding). In December that same year, mere weeks after becoming Taoiseach Charlie Haughey scrapped the plan of his predecessor Jack Lynch. A close second in the competition was Design No.8 by de Blacam & Meagher in collaboration with QS Austin Reddy & Co. and Consulting Engineers ARUP & Partners. Joint Second Place was No.17 Julyan Wickham & Desmond Lavery (London) and Moore Meagher Farrell & Cleary with an address of UCD School of Architecture. Commended was Toal Ó Muíre & Emer Ó Siochrú and the practice Ivor Smith & Cailey Hutton (Bristol). Most of the Entries were from Ireland and the UK with the odd one further afield like West Germany.
The competition received 98 entries in total. Looking through the list there are so many familiar names that are still around today over 36 years later such as;
No.12 John Tuomey (would later become odonnell-tuomey.ie/) with Drawing Team of Paul Keogh and Rachael Chidlow. Paul's chances of being on the winning team were doubled as he was also collaborator alongside Michael McGarry on Sheila O'Donnell's entry (No. 87). No.93 sees Don O'Neill and the late Jeremy Williams with collaborator Freddie O'Dwyer. There is RKD Architects (61), Grafton Architects (76), Delaney MacVeigh & Pike, Patrick & Maura Shaffrey, Robin Mandal (58), Gerry Cahill (52), Noel Dowley (49), Peter & Mary Doyle (35), Sam Stephenson (28), and No.23 was Edward Jones, Malcomn Last & David Chipperfield (23). You might wonder why I went to bother of typing out the entry numbers. When you read below you might find yourself scrambling to cross-reference the numbers as I did.
The Assessor's Report does not mention who the judging panel except that it was designed by the chairman Richard Stokes. The foreign assessor was Aldo van Eyck, interestingly father-in-law to Julyan Wickham. It starts with;
In general, the standard of the entries reflected the complexity of the brief, only a minority showing a sensitive appreciation of the requirements. The most common defects were a weakness in the integration of the several components of the plan and a failure to establish an appropriate relationship between the main elements, the Residence and the State Guest House. Many competitors also ran into difficulties with the link for informal communication between the two elements and in relating the medieval tower to the new buildings. It was of interest to find that only four entries sought to retain the 18th century Villa. While detailed attention was paid to these in the assessment, the Assessors considered that they failed because the Villa could not be related successfully in scale to the total complex. Some thirty-four designers incorporated the old stable buildings and, in many cases, made use of them in a sensitive way.
After detailed examination, the Assessors selected fifteen entries which, appeared to have an especial merit and potential as acceptable schemes. They were Nos. 1, 8, 14, 17, 19, 35, 36, 48, 57, 59, 60, 66, 70, 78 and 91.
In their final appraisal, the Assessors narrowed the list to the four entries which showed the highest quality: Nos. 8, 17, 36 and 91. Of these they decided that entry No. 91 was the best and was of a quality which would warrant its adoption and execution and, with some feasible modifications, would meet all the Promotors' requirements.
A well-developed and detailed scheme, entry No.91 fulfills the planning and accommodation requirements with interesting space relationships, both internally and externally, and it has a pleasing human scale. The layout is sensitive to the site and keeps ,much of the present screening, making the best of its surroundings.
The three other entries in the final grouping, No.8, 17 and 36, were felt to represent three differing but acceptable solutions to the main requirements of the brief though they would require development and improvement to make them suitable for adoption. It would be difficult to separate them on merit and they were therefore placed jointly in second place, that is, with a prize of £2,000 each. It is to be noted that the effect of perfecting them would certainly lead to increases in cost.
On entry No.8 by de Blacam & Meagher
Project No.8 was favoured for its distinctive architectural quality and its sensitiviety in detail and conception. There were aspirations regarding certain aspects of the planning of the buildings, including the location of the Taoiseach's private apartments and the absence of an entrance hall as envisaged in the brief. There is also an undue emphasis on the walled garden to the detriment of the siting of the Guesthouse. But it was noted that the competitor had made a serious practical endeavour to incorporate examples of the best Irish furniture and modern art.