Re: Re: Department of Finance, Merrion Row – Grafton Architects
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How could a heritage facade to the front and a modern block to the rear be described as meaningful, jdivision? Surely the direct opposite is the case.
Justification for this ‘individualistic’ design in my view is derived from the long history associated with this part of the city of unremarkable stock being replaced by signature buildings. The Georgians demolished old-fashioned Dutch Billys and early-18th century stock for grander classically-inspired mansions, the Victorians demolished similar – what they deemed ‘average’ – Georgian stock for all-consuming iconic structures, while the mid-20th century did likewise; all combining to make up the fascinating jumble of stock that we see on the Green today, notably on the commercially important northern side. It is equally notable that only ‘the strongest survived’ on this side – there is very little of modest stock remaining on this part of the Green.
By today’s standards, the former red brick National Museum building was deemed thoroughly average and if anything an eyesore on the street – much as a Dutch Billy would have been an affront to a late Georgian with notions. And so in time-honoured tradition, a vernacular building has been replaced with a signature building that reflects its time, much as Andrew Devane’s Stephen Court does, or the nearby Shelbourne. Of course the difference in our attitude to older vernacular stock today is that there is a heritage value attached, so naturally there is a desire to retain for example the adjoining Merrion Row buildings. As such, the Museum building provided the ideal opportunity to make a 21st century statement in this part of the city without losing heritage stock or unduly compromising adjoining buildings, and I think this has been achieved in this instance.
However the more I see the differing elevations of the new building, the less coherent it unfortunately becomes. I think the design concept of the structure as a whole is substantially diluted with such conflicting treatment.