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Launch of More than Concrete Blocks Volume 2

Published: Thursday, February 07, 2019

On Wednesday 6 February More than Concrete Blocks: Dublin City’s twentieth-century buildings Volume II was launched in the Irish Architectural Archives. Speeches were made by Lord Mayor of Dublin Nial Ring, Dr Editor Ellen Rowley and poet Paula Meehan. This is the second volume of a three-volume series of architectural history books which are richly illustrated and written for the general reader. Unpacking the history of Dublin’s architecture during the twentieth century, each book covers a period in chronological sequence: Volume I, 1900–40; Volume II, 1940–73; Volume III, 1973–2000. The series considers the city as a layers and complex place. It makes links between Dublin’s buildings and Dublin’s political, social, cultural and economic histories. Series commissioner, Charles Duggan (DCC Heritage Officer), edited by Dr Ellen Rowley Hon. RIAI and Contributors: Natalie de Roiste, Merlo Kelly MRIAI, Shane O’Toole Hon.FRIAI, Carole Pollard FRIAI and photography by Paul Tierney. Publishers the Four Court Press.

Volume II explores Dublin’s architectural history from 1940 to 1972. There are 36 case studies, markedly mixed in terms of building type and public awareness, from city-centre schools to the nation’s bus station (Busáras); from a suburban Catholic church and flat schemes to radical office buildings. Volume II covers the middle of the twentieth century, including the largely overlooked 1940s and 1950s. It presents a contentious built history which saw the not-always-welcome rise of architectural modernism, at the service of a modernizing Ireland.

Volume I, 1900–40 contains introductory historical essays of building culture in Dublin from 1900 to 1939, followed by twenty-six case studies and an overview, in guidebook style, of c. 95 sites. This volume covers the years in the run-up to – and during – the battle for Irish independence, as well as the period of the early Free State. Much of the history touches on the roles of streets in revolution and of buildings in the construction of a new state; the book serves as a survey of the city’s buildings over the period 1900 to 1939, not as a ‘best of’ but as a representation of architectural endeavour at the time. The case studies range from iconic situations such as the 1917 rebuilding of Sackville Street lower (later O’Connell Street), to lesser-known structures like the concrete Oblates grotto, Inchicore (1929) or the public library, Drumcondra (1937). Each study is framed according to key historic questions, and raises issues around architectural technology and materials, patronage and urban planning, residents and ceremonial or daily use.

Volume II and the reprint of Volume with the new cover is available to buy in the RIAI Bookshop.

Categories: Architecture | Bookshop

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