THE CIRCULAR

Dublin: A Docklands Architectural tour

Dublin Grand Canal Dock by sunset @Margaux Bebin via Unsplash

In contrast to the Georgian architectural style of Dublin, the architecture of the Docklands area of the Irish capital caught our attention. To find out more, we spoke to Joud Hamwi who works as an architect for Dynamic Resources in Dublin. We also wanted to look to the future by focusing on a project of the future: the Dock Mill one.

Zoom on the “Dock Mill” project

Wood made possible one of man’s most important achievements: fire. Its use as a fuel, source of light and means of protection has been an essential factor in evolution. Its use, however, was not limited to this energy aspect. The bark of young oak trees was once used for tanning hides. Linden bark was used to make shaft ropes. Walnut and alder bark was used for dyeing. Holly and yew were used to make glue. Acorns were, and still are, used to feed pigs, chestnuts for humans and animals, and faines for turkeys. Brambles can be used to make twine, brooches, and small dry birch branches to make brooms. Wood has been used for hunting, for defence, for working the land, and has also been widely used for shelter throughout time.

Visible on Barrow Street (Dublin 4), the former Boland’s Mill flour production site opened in 1873, when a local baker named Patrick Boland acquired flour mill buildings overlooking Grand Canal Dock. Occupied by rebel forces during the Easter Rising of 1916, production at the mill was officially halted in 2001. Bought in 2018 by Google, which plans to open a multicultural and commercial centre by 2023, one of the buildings of the former Boland’s Flourmill should be brought closer to the sky thanks to the work of the architectural firm Urban Agency.

The design is dedicated to both offices (in the new timber tower addition) and flats (in the privacy of the existing mill), as we can see from the schematic designs posted online by Urban Agency. “The proposal reflects the flexible nature of modern work and home lifestyles, creating multi-functional spaces that are necessitated by the limited footprint of the building while maintaining adaptability to changing future functions. As it currently exists, pedestrians cannot access the building directly” explained Maxime Laroussi (co-founder of Urban Agency) in an interview with Dezeen.com. The “Dock Mill” design seems to correct this problem by introducing a promenade, linking the row of building facades to the water’s edge. This should complete an interdependent and connected architectural ecosystem to facilitate the ebb and flow of modern life.

Conceptually, the design of the wooden structure of “Dock Mill” can be traced back to its material source: the tree. “Rooted in the existing structure of the mill, the new extension of the building depends respectfully on this historic foundation, deriving from the silhouette of the triangular gable of the mill. From this point, the wooden structure develops upwards in a network of wooden rafters that mimic the branches of the tree, surrounding the solid trunk-like mass of the staircase and lift shaft” told Maxime Laroussi to the web platform Rencontres Woodrise.

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