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2009 – The O2, North Wall, Dublin

Architect: Populous

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The design of “theO2 Dublin` represents best practice in architectural design due to the unique response to the existing listed historical building , the urban context and developing master plan of the Dublin Docklands North Lotts area and the challenging functional and technical criteria for this building type. The integration of an acoustically large scale isolated internal structure within an existing historical one challenges the designer to sensitively adopt a solution that creates a visually respectful yet contemporary design. Populous created nine principals of heritage architecture specifically for this building to guide the design process in partnership with the planning authority and heritage bodies.

These principles related to the underlying classical architectural heritage and unique building morphology. Populous adopted a tripartite design solution in plan section and elevation , working from the urban scale to detailed design, that succeeds in introducing diminishing levels of lightness at the whole building scale mirroring the established basilica cum Lombardic palazzo synthesis of the nineteenth century design.

The design successfully achieves a significant re-use of important historical components, re-arranged and re-combined in ways reinforcing the new use yet at the same time respecting the architectural integrity of the parts and the whole. The new building is a significant landmark on the river liffe on the scale of the city, with a unique roof design that combines the use of diaphanous façade elements that create an ethereal quality both during the day and at night enhanced by a unique programmable dynamic colour changing lighting design. These effects are achieved from within the building also as the cityscape is refracted through the building envelope creating a sense of drama and spectacle for the building patrons. The auditorium design has achieved the highest levels of flexibility, comfort, sightline excellence, proximity to the performance and above all acoustic quality whilst also incorporating a playful inversion of the tripartite horizontal striation of the exterior. A full seated capacity of 9500 can be achieved with an ultimate capacity of 14,000 comprising 8,000 standing and 6,000 seated. Public entrances are arranged to activate all of the new public spaces surrounding the building, with particular emphasis on the important riverfront elevation and entrance vestibule arcades which have been enhanced by linking the individual spaces into a singular main entry space of monumental scale and importance to the city of Dublin.