Sign up to our newsletter

Sign up to our newsletter for all the latest new and updates.

Become a member

Membership of Type allows unlimited access to our online library. Join to support new research and writing on the design of the built environment.

You can read more about membership here.

Become a member

Already a member? Login to your account to avail of unlimited downloads.

Working hard, and yet hardly working at all

Doireann de Courcy Mac Donnell

Working Hard / Hardly Working

Embedded within the north-inner city of Dublin since 1934, the St. Michan’s social housing scheme – also known as the Greek Street flats – marked the beginning of a new architectural era on the island of Ireland. Today, this scheme and the other flats of the same age are in desperate need of refurbishment: for the residents, for the city, for our environment, and for our built heritage.

Looking at plans and sections alone, the obvious conclusion is that the 1930s flat blocks are no longer fit for purpose. However, assessing the building as a series of stacked homes / refuges / dynastic legacies, it is clear that they work very hard indeed.

As a platform for new and archival journalism, TYPE was established to add to the national conversation on architecture, planning, urban design and landscape architecture. As part of this, the article series Working Hard / Hardly Working endeavours to discuss and draw attention to design features in our everyday urban environments; calling on contributors to identify two examples of a design move - one which works well, and one that hardly works at all. While typically the series title was applied by holding two spaces in direct comparison, this article instead considers that much of our building stock is working hard, while not really working at all. As is explored in this essay, a space can be manifested using typically successful design principles, with a dedication to the experience of the end-user, but through the barrage of time, modernity, and reality, can still become a less than successful space to be in. Casting an eye across Irish towns and cities, this contradiction is palpable in many a built form; from the Georgian terrace to redundant mid-century office blocks and social housing flats. And what frustrates those of us with affection for the built, is that many of these buildings hold such potential. However, with an obligation to make all built form accessible, insulated and fire-proofed, the task of refurbishment can become insurmountable (i.e. too expensive). The knock-on effect on our urban realm is that this refurbishment doesn’t happen, and the building persists and struggles to work hard for its inhabitants, while ceasing and ceding to work at all. Nowhere is this more apparent than the flats of St Michan’s.

Scheme plan: There are no original drawings of the St Michan’s scheme publicly available. This plan drawing was constructed and devised using archival drawings of Simms’ Cook Street and Ushers Quay schemes, Eddie Conroy’s 1997 M.Sc.Arch thesis “’No Rest for Twenty Years’; H.G. Simms and the Problem of Slum Clearance in Dublin” and site survey. 

Completed in 1934, the St Michan’s scheme – known also as the Greek Street flats – is embedded within the north-inner city of Dublin. Found a block north of the Liffey, the St Michan’s social housing apartments are four-storeys tall and contain 112 flats divided across three blocks; two west of Greek Street and one east of Greek Street. The scheme is understood to be one of the first of twenty-something social housing blocks designed by H. J. Simms as Dublin Corporation Architect in the mid-twentieth century. According to minutes from a meeting held by Dublin Corporation on 14 August 1931, the approval for flats to be designed and erected on Mary’s Lane was granted. The record highlights that this type of building – four storeys tall and approximately 80m in length, with two circulation cores – was hitherto unknown and “not manufactured in the Free State”. This tiny record – just another note among thousands in the many dusty green leather volumes of the archive shelves – signifies the architectural heritage and importance of the Michan’s blocks. While the flats in the twenty-first century have become an emblem of built apathy and slow dereliction, this does not reflect the intent of the 1930s. These schemes represented an ambition to provide high-quality, liveable city homes to replace the squalor of tenement Dublin. St Michan’s flats (recorded as Mary’s Lane flats at this time) were the first of its kind in the republic – something reflected in its simplistic ornamentation and crude construction. Following widespread slum clearance, the flats represented a new way of living. St Michan’s are just one of the many original ‘Simms blocks’ that are falling into dilapidation – in dire need of considered refurbishment and attention. For the purpose of this article, the flats were analysed under the headings of space, access, and services.

Surveying Joanna's flat, March 2023.


Only through knowing the intersection of our buildings’ historical, geographical, architectural, cultural, urban, and sociological heritage can we assess and value our existing building stock. Looking at plans and sections alone, the obvious conclusion is that the 1930s flat blocks are no longer fit for purpose. However, assessing the building as a series of stacked homes / refuges / dynastic legacies, it is clear that they work very hard indeed. An expectation that our spaces should serve us was a standard set by the architects from the scheme's inception. Through drawing, anecdote and archive, we know that Dublin Corporation, with Simms at the helm, asserted that these stacked homes should be equal to their two-storey terraced neighbours. Skirting boards throughout were insisted upon. Every flat had its own WC with a small window. While the hearth continued to act as the focal point, each flat was equipped with a separate scullery. Measuring under 6sqm, this represented a psychological move of the place of the kitchen within the home from a secondary, ‘serving’, room to an everyday space with light and functionality. While it is clear that these flats represent an endeavour to provide homes of value (sections drawn of the Cook Street flats scheme from the same time depict detail such as fold-up counter tops and coat hooks), where the corporation failed the residents was in understanding the size of families who would reside in the flats. As opposed to the three or four-person units the flats were designed for, families were more likely to have eight or ten members. This is a problem that persists today. The flats are too small for the number of occupants they hold.

The plan above is a survey of a resident’s apartment. Joanna lives here with her two adult daughters. The plan closely represents the suspected original layout – two bedrooms and a scullery off a main living room, with the 1930s coal shoot and WC converted into a bathroom and shower. There is no space for a dining table. During the Covid-19 lockdowns, Joanna’s girls completed a Leaving Cert and third-level degree sharing just the small make-up table in their bedroom. Even the depth of the walls is paltry: next door drilled straight through when hanging a painting. Storage is a limited luxury.

ACCESS – lifting the buggy and baby


At each level, the flats are accessed by a gated deck off a central stair. Delineating the brick facades, the external decks are a quintessential feature of these blocks. Typically there are four doors per deck. They are a fundamental extension of the floor plan; used to store bikes, buggies, and laundry. The decks act as private outdoor terraces for the residents who have bedecked the walkways with compact outdoor furniture, and, most importantly for the residents, they enable the community to monitor the comings and goings of the scheme. Visting the flats, no sooner have you turned the corner when you are beckoned from one height or another. Their children grow up as children of the flats, loved and looked after by many – not just direct family members. This passive surveillance allows for both the casual monitoring of the children playing below, and secures their private world within the city.

Yet, using these decks is a daily drudgery. The drawing above depicts an occasion where baby was enjoying the view, as he was precariously lifted over a clothes horse. Having a baby in a Michan’s flat involves lugging a buggy up and down the four storeys several times a day, navigating the bikes and laundry. There are no provisions for limited mobility. 

SERVICES – holding the shower head aloft


From surveying Joanna’s flat, the room that frustrates its family the most is their tiny bathroom. A shower has been added to the original WC by eating space from the master bedroom. However, the head height is too short to fix the shower head to the wall, and so you must hold it aloft when showering.

There is no storage and no space – the girls stick a leg out onto the sink to shave their legs. Worst of all is the noise that travels – if someone in the flat below is having a rough time, you know about it. The single waste pipe runs vertically from the top floor to the bottom. If there is a plumbing issue or problem on one floor, there is a problem on every floor. It is the same for the drainage in the kitchens. The services to Michan’s were not designed to cope with everyday modern life. The washing machines cause water to come back up into the sink – a resident explained that she can’t leave while her washing is on as she spends the spin cycle running to and from the kitchen sink, emptying buckets of water down an external drain. There is only a countertop fridge, with just a freezer shelf. Even an air-fryer can’t succeed in Michan’s; it blew the sockets and almost went on fire.

What links this essay to all other pieces in this Working Hard / Hardly Working series is that there are but a few minor moves that will take this building from hardly working to one which is a successful home for its residents. Flats could be amalgamated or extended to create a suitably sized apartment [space]. The whole building would be dramatically improved should the pipework and electrics be re-done [services]. An elevator would make the scheme navigable, and an extension of the deck would only enhance the precious external space already enjoyed by the residents [access].

The architectural principles of the building are strong – the flats were designed to have minimal internal corridors, are all dual aspect, and with a maximum of four doors per deck access, they hug the street edge to create generous interior courtyards. These buildings work hard for their residents, and in turn, they the residents do the same for it. You cannot leave the flats without feeling the depth of pride towards the homes and communities made. The residents who live here overcome daily physical obstacles in order to maintain their flats. And through this careful care, the home-makers also act as cultural custodians. But they can only do so much; the building cannot continue to work so hard. The Michan’s scheme and others of the same age need to be refurbished: for the residents, for the city, for our environment, and for our architectural heritage. 

Collage showing the construction of St. Michan's social housing flats

The architectural principles of the building are strong – the flats were designed to have minimal internal corridor, are all dual aspect, and with a maximum of four doors per deck access, they hug the street edge to create generous interior courtyards.

Working Hard / Hardly Working is an article series designed to promote the use and organisation of public space. By presenting two examples – one which works well, and one which needs to work harder – it highlights the importance of clever design, and how considered decisions can make our shared spaces better. For all enquiries and potential contributors, please contact

Working Hard / Hardly Working is supported by the Arts Council through the Architecture Project Award Round 2 2022.


1. E. Conroy, “No Rest for Twenty Years”; H.G. Simms and the Problem of Slum Clearance in Dublin, M.Sc.Arch Thesis. University College Dublin, Ireland. 1997.

2. E. Rowley (ed.), More than concrete blocks : Dublin city’s twentieth century buildings and their stories. Vol. I, 1900-40. Dublin: Dublin City Council with UCD and Four Courts Press, 2016.


Doireann de Courcy Mac Donnell

Doireann de Courcy Mac Donnell has a strong interest in the city as a place for all. An editor of, and previous contributor/editor to publications including Architecture Ireland, house+design and 2ha, she is the former editor for ‘The University Observer’ in UCD, establishing the ‘Art & Architecture’ section of the newspaper. Doireann holds a MArch from UCD, and received a nomination for Dissertation of the Year for her research. She currently works as an Architectural Graduate for McCullough Mulvin Architects. Doireann views architectural writing and criticism as essential to the improvement of our shared spaces.

Related articles

Untapped potential: harnessing rainwater in our public realm

BothAnd Group
Working Hard / Hardly Working
BothAnd Group
James Haynes

Crafting public spaces that respond to local climatic conditions demands careful consideration. The ground plane bears the brunt of numerous responsibilities: foot traffic, accessibility, servicing and managing fluctuating climatic conditions – specifically rainwater.  

Met Éireann's preliminary data for 2024 shows that March’s rainfall surpassed long-term averages [1]. Further climate change research conducted by Met Éireann also reveals significant increases in heavy precipitation events, particularly during winter and autumn months, with a projected rise in extended dry periods [2]. This poses challenges for both water scarcity and abundance, necessitating prompt design solutions and adaptations to our public spaces and wider built environment.

Rainwater in cities isn't just an inconvenience, it holds potential. Rather than condemning rainwater into stormwater drains, through careful planning and management techniques there are ways we can redirect and collect it, enhancing the spatial experience and climate resilience of our public realm.

Shop Street, Galway (2020). Source: Tobin Galway


Hardly working

The surface of the pedestrianised core in Galway city over the years has succumbed to the inherent complexities of climate and water, with rainfall historically and consistently being a challenge. It averages at 2,800mm per year, in comparison to Dublin with an average of 680mm per year [3].

Since its pedestrianisation in the late 1990s, the street has undergone various phases of maintenance, resurfacing, and redesign. Previously paved with a cobble lock paving, this surface quickly deteriorated after years of heavy foot and vehicular traffic, compounded by poor drainage, and was removed in 2019.

Since then, it has been temporarily resurfaced with tarmac, and in many ways, is symbolic of the widespread soil sealing occurring across Irish towns and cities. This practice, along with the selection of visually unattractive drainage systems permeating the built environment, reflects a gradual erosion of the importance of aesthetic value in pedestrianised zones. These drainage systems are engineered to direct polluted runoff towards natural watercourses, such as rivers and streams, or in some cases to designated stormwater management facilities. Consequently, the resultant waste has been described as a "toxic cocktail of pollutants’’ identified by the EPA (Environment Protection Agency) [4].

The material surface of Shop Street in Galway city is currently under review as part of a broader public realm redevelopment and city enhancement strategy [5]. The strategy, while ambitious and impressive in terms of its quality of urban place making and accessibility standards, is conservatively reliant on impervious hard surfaces with traditional methods of surface rainfall drainage. The strategy, apart from its introduction of small areas of sustainable drainage systems (SUDS), misses a massive opportunity to effectively integrate and creatively link rainfall drainage from streets to new and existing public spaces, a critical characteristic of nature-based solutions (NBS) to urban run-off and climate resilience. 

Rainwater channels in full flow at Benthemplein, Rotterdam, by De Urbanisten. Source: Jurgen Bals

Working hard

The streets and sidewalks encircling Benthemplein in Rotterdam serve as its water veins, creating a living rainwater laboratory, a ground-breaking urban space known as the Water Square. Designed by De Urbanisten, and completed in 2013, it serves as a multifunctional public space that dynamically integrates water management with recreational and social amenities.The project aimed to address the city's challenges with urban flooding and water management. It not only successfully achieved this, but also exposed these challenges to the public through conscious and clever design [6].

Three basins gather rainwater: two shallow ones collect water whenever it rains nearby, while a deeper basin accumulates water during periods of sustained rainfall. Rainwater from the square flows via stainless steel drainage channels into the basins, visually mimicking natural waterways, while in dry weather, the space is accessible to all [7].

Here, linking the drainage channels to a large public space creates visual interest and dynamic interactions with water, enhancing the sensory experience of the square. The sound of water flowing through the channels contributes to the space’s ambiance, creating a playful, inviting atmosphere that attracts people to linger and engage.

The incorporation of street drainage into the design of the Water Square at Benthemplein exemplifies the seamless integration of water management infrastructure with urban design principles. By combining functionality with aesthetics, these channels contribute to the square's resilience, sustainability, and appeal as a vibrant public space in Rotterdam.


Despite notable differences in context and scale, the Dutch model offers insights and an attitude to climate adaptive design that can be applied to the Irish urban environment. Fundamentally, the Water Square at Benthemplein demonstrates that it is plausible to effectively manage and even embrace heavy rainfall within urban areas.

It is important to recognise Shop Street in Galway not just as an isolated segment of the city's fabric, but as an integral component of interconnected systems within the broader urban water landscape. This perspective acknowledges the wider context and interdependencies within the urban environment, encompassing flood prevention, the preservation of biodiversity, water quality maintenance, and ecosystem wellbeing. This calls for a change in how we perceive and handle our conventional drainage systems, prompting a fundamental question: are we designing what's right for our rain?

Working Hard / Hardly Working

Rainwater in cities isn't just a problem – it's an opportunity. This article delves into the conventional methods of handling rainwater in our urban spaces, and looks to climate-adaptive examples of rainwater management, offering insights applicable to future urban environments in Ireland.


Metropolitan duality: Cork and Naples explored through the Venturi lens

Niamh Hurley
Working Hard / Hardly Working
Niamh Hurley
James Haynes
Aragonese walls and housing block through reflective framed device, Naples

While Cork city is often likened to Venice for its comparable canal system beneath its main streets, its architectural and urban characteristics draw parallels to another Italian city: Naples. Like Cork, Naples is a port city with a rich architectural history stemming from the mediaeval and industrial periods, however, their architectural characters and urbanist developments diverge significantly. 

The city of Naples embodies Venturi’s ideas, through its honky-tonk architecture, with various contrasting epochs stitched together into one elevational run. Structure, facade, stairs, fenestration: all elements become urban characters of a centuries-old play known to the locals as La Città (The City). This eclectic approach to urbanism results from the continual layering up of architecture upon architecture, fragments upon fragment, all with a keen desire to preserve, protect, and most importantly, maintain each architectural style. 

Cork city has an opportunity to draw inspiration from the Neapolitan character by investigating its development through the lens of Venturi's theories presented in his text, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture. By juxtaposing similar examples from both cities, a connection between Neapolitan theatrics and Cork city’s architectural and urban framework can be discerned.

St. Augustine’s Church, Cork

City gates

Monumental gateways of former entry points are present in both cities. Portas are embedded into the Neapolitan urban environment, creating porous penetrations into the city’s historic centre. Traversing beneath these oversized portals is a colloquial experience. While most of these city gates have been demolished or disappeared over the centuries, fragments of their existence are scattered throughout the city. Four of the most intact examples are Port'Alba, Porta San Gennaro, Porta Nolana, and Porta Capuana. Nolana and Capuana are former entry points of the Aragonese fortification walls, flanked by two towers on either side. Both are embedded into the surrounding urban fabric, with housing blocks capturing portions of the former fortifications. This variegated facade, which conjoins the massive scale of the Aragonese arch and the human-sized domestic architecture into one elevation, embodies what Venturi refers to as ‘superadjacency’.

Bishop Lucey Park gateway, Cork

Looking at Cork city, similar giants appear, however, they take on an alien appearance compared to their surroundings. This is the case for the gateway that serves as the entrance to Bishop Lucey Park, known to Corkonians as the People’s Park. The double-arched entrance is reconstructed from the 1850’s Cork Cornmarket, a former marketplace, not located on the park’s derelict site, but instead at Coal Quay less than 500m away. Flanked by low stone walls and metal railings, recent development plans for the park include the removal of these adjacent structures while allowing the gateway to remain. The threshold becomes monumental rather than transitional. This form of symbolic architecture, represented as fragments of the whole, can be understood as “economical because it implies richness and meaning beyond itself” without the need for the whole [1]. However, care for its continuing existence in the chosen context is key. The gateway to the park rescripts its history into a fraudulent one, a contradiction, but not necessarily the form which Venturi discusses. Approaching by means of inversion, removing the deceptive, and creating a void to signify this entry adheres to the Venturi's idea of fragmentation while remaining faithful to Cork's history.

Urban ecclesiastics

Venturi's theories are not lost on Cork city. It is in the ecclesiastical spaces where these theories are effectively realised. This effectiveness may stem from the proximity of neighbouring buildings, resulting in a densely complex and interconnected urban fabric reminiscent of Neapolitan city development. One example is St Augustine’s Church on Washington Street. The second of its kind on the site, this church designed by architect Dominic O’Connor and completed in 1943, embeds itself into the streetscape, matching street lines and eave heights [2]. Contradictions appear in its material usage and elongated stained glass windows. The scale of the chiselled stone facade compared to the adjacent brickwork follows a height ratio of 3:1 and 5:1 and a width ratio of 2:1. Glazed openings extend to the fourth-storey height with no external breaks. The entry point on Washington Street is marked by a Hiberno-Romanesque style archway, double the height of its central door and those surrounding it. 

Chiesa del Gesù Nuovo, Naples.

Chiesa del Gesù Nuovo in Naples follows a similar over-scaling of architectural features with a more theatrical approach. Typical fenestration proportions are kept, while the scale is magnified to an almost caricature-like quality. Duality is present in its glazed elements; becoming what Venturi describes as “as both structural and ornamental, frequently redundant, and sometimes vestigial” [3]. 

By allowing these structures to play both against and with their architectural context, each element becomes a character in the city’s shared theatrical stage. This extreme multiplicity “reads like a unity through a tendency of the parts to change scale, and to be perceived as an overall pattern or texture”, creating an architecturally theatrical city that seeks to celebrate and conserve its elaborate and paradoxical history [4].

Working Hard / Hardly Working

Robert Venturi's postmodernist theories, outlined in his 1966 book "Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture", have significantly influenced urban development. This article examines how two cities, Cork and Naples, have responded differently to these concepts through an analysis of similar heritage spaces, illustrating how one place’s adoption of these ideas may influence the development trajectory of the other.


The autumnal earth: the Irish National War Memorial Gardens

Tom Cookson
Working Hard / Hardly Working
Tom Cookson
James Haynes

"We have found safety with all things undying,

The winds, and morning, tears of men and mirth,

The deep night, and birds singing, and clouds flying,

And sleep, and freedom, and the autumnal earth".

Extract from ‘Safety’ by Rupert Brooke, 1914.

Located on the southern edge of Phoenix Park in Dublin is the Irish National War Memorial Gardens (1930-39). On arrival one is drawn to a modest structure framed by trees. Inscribed here is a fragment of a poem by Rupert Brooke, the great English war poet. He wrote these words at the tender age of twenty-seven, and was shortly to depart for war, where he perished soon after.

Sentinels guarding a multi-layered threshold, a play of mass and volume at the Irish Memorial Gardens.

The Irish Memorial Gardens were designed by the English architect Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944) at the height of his creative powers, in the twilight of his career. His masterpieces in New Delhi and Thiepval were complete, and he was designing Liverpool Cathedral, feted to rival that of St Peter’s in Rome. Under the auspices of the Imperial War Graves Commission (IWGC) – and its visionary director Fabian Ware – Lutyens had been directly involved in the design of 137 cemeteries and memorials following World War I, and was the spiritual and architectural lodestone for hundreds more. Yet his career began with domestic work in the Arts & Crafts style, commissions and acclaim garnered through the unique patronage of Country Life magazine. As his reputation grew, he was increasingly tasked with civic projects. His mature style, commensurately, is in the Classical tradition; yet bridging the domestic and civic is in many ways the story of his life, and that of the Irish Memorial Gardens.

While civic perhaps falls short of the breadth of Lutyens reach, he was also seeking the universal. He had a belief that perfect shapes and relationships have an eternal relevance, and are reflections of divinity [1]. This is evidenced in the layout he devised at the Irish Memorial Gardens. By composing a series of circular spaces, connected by linear routes, he established a network of cosmic geometries. These are situated within the constructed landscape of Phoenix Park – albeit separated by the River Liffey – with a planned connecting bridge never realised. These cosmic territories hold a family of monuments. In many ways the Irish Memorial Gardens is an exercise in ontology, on the nature of things and their relationships, over many scales.

Following Lutyens proposals, the centrepiece to all IWGC cemeteries and memorials is the War Stone. A neutral but enduring symbol, not overtly related to any particular religion, in line with Lutyens’ humanist values. This final proposal is reflective of his first striking instinct for a memorial, communicated in a letter to his wife, after visiting the Western Front: "a solid ball of bronze!" [2]. Yet as with all commissions of this scale and significance, more conservative voices held sway. These were led by Herbert Baker, another prominent architect, who called for the traditional iconography of the cross. The compromise reached is evident at the Irish Memorial Gardens, with the War Stone twinned to the south with a monumental stone cross.

Lutyens had been working for many years with the classical language of architecture, manipulating its grammar in the Renaissance mannerist tradition. His fascination with the work of Palladio and Wren is clear in the elements that frame the War Stone. A wall encloses this to the south, east and west, with axial entrances to the flanking circular gardens marked by pavilions which borrow the ancient Roman model of the tetrapylon. Openings in the four corners of this central space provide access to radial routes into the wider landscape, framed by gateposts, sentinels guarding their thresholds. These are figurative in character, over-scaled, in the manner Michelangelo Buonarotti depicted the human body. Constructed from sharply dressed and jointed white stone, they contrast wilfully in tone and texture with the more informally coursed walls which they interrupt. They are playful, personal, balancing mass and volume as a painter or sculptor would, roundly rejecting the assumption that the classical tradition is an imitative pattern book. To the north, a view of Phoenix Park connects this outdoor room to its broader context – a recurring motif in Lutyen’s work for the IWGC. Despite its scale, this space truly does feel like a civic room, embedded in its landscape and roofed by the heavens, delivering on Lutyens intent: "The big stone to the East, the flanking pyramid oaks and the sky forming the vault to them all" [3].

The notion of an outdoor room, or ‘garden-room’, is a strand which connects all of Lutyen’s domestic projects, under the influence of his lifelong collaborator Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932). Jekyll’s career began as a painter, before shifting to garden design, inspired by William Robinson’s revolutionary book The Wild Garden [4]. The domestic qualities of the spaces that Lutyen’s and Jekyll spent decades refining together are evident in the Irish Memorial Gardens, individual moments afforded amongst the universal set-piece, a contradiction delicately negotiated, elevating each experience. It is this layering from the scale of the cosmos, receding to landscape, city, building, room, aedicule that uniquely allows us to situate the presence of our individual bodies in the context of a broader continuum. To feel the presence of the earth below, and the firmament above. Another duality that is masterfully explored by sculpting the ground. The majority of landscapes are illusionary, surreptitiously urbanised, with few as skilfully executed as this one. Our experience is also illuminated through the topographic adjustments that have been imposed on this place. The more intimate circular gardens – to the east and west of the central outdoor room – uniquely feel both below the ground and elevated above it, simultaneously buried and projecting skyward.

Irish Memorial Gardens as artefact, fragmenting a constructed landscape.

Rudyard Kipling described Lutyen’s memorials and cemeteries as "silent cities". The 49,400 Irish soldiers that lost their lives during World War I inhabit these gardens, their presence is felt, the empty rooms hold an emotional density. The Irish Memorial Gardens recalls paths not walked, public spaces not shared, domestic rooms not inhabited. The tragedy of this place is that it was made to memorialise WW1, just as WW2 was about to commence. Yet it also carries hope. In the grand tradition of public space, it reminds us that the individual only makes sense as part of the collective. It also fractures our participation in the everyday – for a moment at least – connecting human life with the landscape which we inhabit, a valuable lesson in the context of a climate emergency.

Working Hard / Hardly Working

The Irish National War Memorial Gardens affords individual moments amongst a universal set-piece. Referencing the scale of the cosmos, and receding to landscape, city, building, room, it uniquely allows us to situate the presence of our individual bodies in the context of a broader continuum. A vital experience in a time of climate emergency.



Website by Good as Gold.