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Announcement of Winning Architect to Design a Commemorative Bridge at Islandbridge, Dublin

Published: Tuesday, May 14, 2019

RIAI) and the Office of Public Works (OPW) today announced the winning architect of the competition to design a new commemorative bridge at the Irish National War Memorial Gardens in Dublin.

Dublin, 14 May: The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) and the Office of Public Works (OPW) today announced the winning architect of the competition to design a new commemorative bridge at the Irish National War Memorial Gardens in Dublin.

The design competition was launched in November 2018 and submissions were received from 61 architectural practices from 9 countries, including Ireland, UK, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Hong Kong and USA.

The winning design is by Ian Ritchie Architects. Based in London, this is Ian Ritchie’s second major competition win in Ireland, having previously designed the Spire of Dublin to mark the Millennium. The winning bridge design was described by the judges as “a simple and elegant way of stepping from one side of the Liffey to the other. A slender blade of stainless steel leaps from the reeds and rushes to cross over the river”. Ian Ritchie Architects will receive a prize of €15,000 for the winning entry. 

Speaking at the announcement, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, Minister of State for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief, said: “The Irish National War Memorial Gardens are one of the city’s most culturally significant sites and I’m delighted to be announcing a winning design befitting of their importance. The role of the OPW is to both protect and present our built heritage for citizens and visitors, and the completion of the new commemorative bridge, in line with the original vision, will enhance these gardens for all to enjoy. I would like to thank all of the architects who entered the competition, it is wonderful to see such a high standard of design.”

Ciaran O’Connor, State Architect at the OPW and Chair of the Jury, said: “The Vision Statement for this competition sought a “bridge design and landscape setting that rises above pure utility, beyond basic construction, to combine all that is practical and necessary, with a design proposal that is meaningful and memorable, that enriches the present, honours the past”. To that end, the winning scheme was never far from the jury’s considerations. It understands and distils the essentials of the competition through a simple, but not simplistic, bridge design that springs the river with elegance and ease. Its design is calm and captivating yet resonates with multi-layered inspiration. A fitting winner.”

Kathryn Meghen, RIAI CEO, said: “Good design creates public spaces that enrich our built environment. The quality of entries received for the Islandbridge competition was exceptionally high and demonstrates the value that architects bring to our cities. This bridge will be an iconic structure in a much-loved memorial space; it will complete the great vision of Sir Edwin Lutyens and will be there for Dubliners and others to enjoy for many years. I would like to commend all of the architects who submitted designs. Architectural competitions are a demonstration of the profession’s commitment to innovate and deliver new solutions for the public good.”

Richard Shakespeare, Assistant Chief Executive, Dublin City Council, said “Dublin City Council welcomes the design and we are looking forward to working closely with the OPW to seeing the project to successful fruition.”

Shortlisted Schemes
The jury also shortlisted four other schemes in the following order:

Second Place
A prize of €7,500 goes to Weston Williamson + Partners (UK)
Citation: The judges admired this clever three girder cantilever design…giving a view through the bridge structure to the river below while also providing a place for pause and reflection before entering the Memorial garden.

Second Place - Weston Williamson+Partners

Third Place
A prize of € 5,000 goes to entry Niall Montgomery + Partners Architects (IRL)
Citation: An elegant steel girder structure connects to a steel plate base with a granite tile surface finish.  The granite finish links into the stepped abutments which reach out into the landscape creating grass terraces to the river’s edges.  This is a bridge that has empathy with its environment.

The scheme by Seán Harrington Architects (IRL) gave due consideration to the whole sequence of arrival, bridge crossing, and interface with the Memorial garden. The tapered concrete bridge thoughtfully combines a compression arch with a tensioned ribbon deck to evoke the spirit of Lutyen’s concept bridge sketch, yet is of its own time and place.

The scheme by Bystrup Arkitekter & Designere ApS (DK) proposed a bridge that tapers in plan as it moves from site entrance to the Memorial garden, thereby accentuating the sense of perspective for the visitor. The Corten steel structure vaults the river, lightly touching the landscape.  It is an essay in the clear execution of a strong singular idea.

About the Competition
Opened in 1940, the Irish National War Memorial Gardens, situated at Islandbridge, Dublin, were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens dedicated to the memory of the 49,400 Irish soldiers who gave their lives in the Great War.  Lutyens original design concept included a three-arched bridge over the River Liffey, to link the gardens to the Chapelizod Road and the Phoenix Park. However, the bridge was not constructed during his lifetime.

This commemorative bridge competition is the first step in realising an important new crossing point, linking sections of Dublin’s walking, cycling and military trails across the river Liffey and extending links from Kilmainham, to the Phoenix Park and further afield. The new bridge will link the north and south banks of the river at the location first proposed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, which is aligned with the main axis of the gardens.

Fittingly, the competition jury made its final deliberations on 29 March, 150 years to the day of Edwin Lutyens’ birth to an Irish mother and English father. Lutyens became an architect of international renown for both building and landscape design. He is also associated with most iconic First World War cemeteries, memorials and monuments on the Western Front including Thiepval, and for the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London.

The competition jury were: Ciaran O’Connor (Chair), FRIAI, State Architect OPW; John McMahon, Commissioner, OPW; Architects Angela Brady, FRIAI, Brady Mallalieu Architects; and Ruth O’Herlihy, MRIAI, McCullough Mulvin Architects; and Engineer Pearse Sutton, CS Consulting Group (Cronin & Sutton). All entries were judged anonymously by the jury.

About the RIAI: Founded in 1839, the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland supports and regulates the architectural profession and promotes the value that architecture brings to society for everyone’s benefit. Follow us on Twitter @RIAIonline and Instagram riaionline.

For further information:

FOR THE RIAI: Fiona O’Connor / Grace Cooney, Drury ǀ Porter Novelli
Fiona.oconnor@drurypn.ie / grace.cooney@drurypn.ie
087 694 9601 (FOC) / 086 153 6886 (GC) / 01 260 5000

Dr Sandra O'Connell, RIAI Director of Architecture and Communications,
T 01 6691474, soconnell@riai.ie

FOR THE OPW:  Barry Nangle, Press Office opwcsc@opw.ie 01 6476517

Categories: Architecture | Competitions | International Competition | Press Releases | RIAI Press Release

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