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The Ark: A Cultural Centre for Children

  • Architect:
    Shane O'Toole and Michael Kelly (Group 91)
  • Award Type:
    Regional Award 1996
  • Location: Dublin
The Ark: A Cultural Centre for Children


A modern intervention which retains its classical facade to Eustace Street while expressing its contemporary programme on the now more more dominant Meeting House Square.

It incorporates ametal stage curtain which rises to allow open air performances, over which the lean-to roofs and fenestration express the internal layout of changing rooms and ancillary areas overlooking the square.

Architect's Comment
Europe's first cultural centre for children contains a 150-seat amphitheatre, gallery and attic workshop. The Ark's footprint, plan, section and structural rhythm recall the long-vanished Presbyterian Meeting House (1725) which originally occupied this site in Temple Bar. The facade to Meeting House Square features a giant 'theatre curtain', facilitating The Ark's 'gift ta the city' -a stage for open-air events in Dublin's newest space.

Client's Comment
After eight months and ten separate programmes including everything from interactive exhibitions to children's theatre and from music workshops to storytelling for 3 to 4 year olds, the Ark has proven to be a great success. One af its major advantages is that it is not daunting because its 1,600 sq. metres is offered to children as three distinct medium scale spaces and three smaller spaces.