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The Irish Architectural Archive

  • Architect:
    OPW, Architectural Services
  • Award Type:
    Regional Award 2005
  • Location: Dublin
The Irish Architectural Archive


Dublin Over €3,000,000

Architect’s Comment
Built in 1794, the Architectural Archive’s new home forms the centrepiece of Merrion Square East and is the largest terrace house on the square. By 1829 it had been subdivided into two separate and more manageable residences by the insertion of full height dividing brick wall, a second entrance doorway and alterations particularly to the main hall and staircases. Office partitions screens and toilet extensions were added in the 20th Centaury.

The recent works have returned the building to the original lucid layout with its formal progression and sequence of spaces while also meeting the functional needs of the Archive.

The construction of a full-height glazed lift; an internal mezzanine link and an external platform lift enable full access for all visitors and facilitate the movement of goods. Green passive-energy repositories contain the stored archival material. Built below ground and of heavily insulated concrete, they provide stable environmental conditions without the use of air-conditioning.

The RIBA’s former "Heinz Gallery" was acquired, dismantled and reassembled to provide a ground-floor exhibition gallery.

Clients’ Comment
The Irish Architectural Archive was established in 1976 by Dr Edward McParland and Nicholas Robinson to collect the records of Ireland’s architecture, preserve those records and make them accessible. Following an assessment in 1995 of the suitability of the Archive’s then home, 73 Merrion Square, the Government assigned 44-45 Merrion Square to the Archive.

The refurbished and extended 45 Merrion Square fully meets the Archive’s brief and exceeds its expectations. New built element such as the ‘green’ archive stores and the modern lift structure guarantee the building’s functionality as a state-of-the-art archival repository while the quality of the restoration of the historic fabric has provided a building that is a joy to visit and a working environment that is inspirational.

The Irish Architectural Archive, in its new location on Merrion Square which has been expertly conserved and restored, provides a fitting home for this national architectural collection.

The combination of careful conservation and skilful modern interventions are an inspiration for those who use the Archive as a resource and those who are themselves engaged in architectural conservation.