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May 19, 2011

Three Irish buildings are RIBA Award winners 2011

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Three buildings in Ireland have received awards from the RIBA in its annual awards scheme. The new Aviva Stadium in Dublin received an award in the European category, with An Gaeleras in Derry and a private house in Donaghadee winning awards in the Northern Ireland category. The house by twenty two over seven was also longlisted for the RIBA Manser Medal 2011 for the best new house in the UK. Citations from the judges follow.

The Aviva Stadium by Populous/Scott Tallon Walker, a new 55,000 seat stadium is on the site of the world’s oldest international rugby stadium, Lansdowne Road. It is shoe-horned into a constrained, smart suburban site. The organic form is a response to these constraints. The stadium and its constituent components are skilfully wrapped in a skin of translucent polycarbonate shingles which forms both walls and roof. Unusually, the stadium bowl is asymmetric, more of a horseshoe in fact. At the north end, covered seating is provided in a single tier and the roof swoops down, letting light into the neighbouring terraced houses and allowing fans to enjoy views out of the stadium towards the city. At the south end daylight is reflected onto the adjacent dwellings by the polycarbonate skin.

An Gaelaras, by O’Donnell + Tuomey, is a cultural centre for the Irish language, and is situated on an unprepossessing narrow landlocked site in Derry. It is a sculptural intervention featuring an intriguing vortex plan that draws the visitor inwards and upwards. The only façade and the internal courtyard structure are both made of high quality boardmarked concrete, evoking a sense of the scale of the neighbouring brickwork. It lends the interior a sense of gravitas that complements the use of plywood and painted plaster elsewhere. Walkways, stairs and handrails are coated in red oxide paint and these, together with the yellow window frames influenced by the yellow of scaffolding poles and blue painted walls that bring in the sky are deftly marked out.

The house at Carnathan Lane Donaghadee, by twenty two over seven, is a well-balanced and thoughtful plan within a fresh interpretation of a Celtic vernacular. The exterior form retains a memory of the 1970s house that previously stood on the site. The front elevation makes reference to the architect Baillie-Scott, with the well-placed horizontal windows at ground and first floor. The single-storey elements at the rear – one pitched roof, one flat – create private external garden rooms that reflect the great consideration given to the relationship between the house and its landscape.
The detail is consistent, robust and thoroughly executed throughout the house, from the timber staircase to the bespoke doors and windows and the fine roof to the external rendering. Porcelain stone floors and oak give the house a sense of quality that belies its modest budget.

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