An OHD Volunteer’s Top 5 Favorite Places in Dublin - Open House Dublin 2022
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An OHD Volunteer’s Top 5 Favorite Places in Dublin

I love my city, my Dublin. I love the storied layers built up over a 1000 plus years, the mash ups of architectural styles, the social and cultural histories of place and people, I love it. But most especially, I love how much of the city is public and available to you, to me, to anyone to enjoy. In this short piece I will run through 5 of my favourite public buildings and spaces in the city.

 1. South City Markets/ George’s Street Arcade

While being hands down my favourite building in the city, The South City Markets are also one of my favourite public buildings in the city. And yes, I am aware that the premises and indeed the George’s Street Arcade are a commercial space but can it also be public? Most times I am in the city I purposely walk through the arcade because I love what the space gives to me, a deep connection to the city’s past but a constant reminder that the city’s heart is still beating with great energy and great people. It is a extremely enjoyable space to be in, you want to be in the space and it is accessible and free to enter (unless the temptation for a Simon’s café cinnamon roll is too strong!). To me that makes a great public building.

2. Kevin Street Public Library

Kevin Street Library has existed since 1904 but the space I first experienced prior to the renovation feel cluttered, worn and not a very inspiring place to learn in. It is now a space transformed, keeping the historic character of the exterior but inside a modern, light filled space. I think the libraries crowning glory is its deceptiveness of scale. The space still contains a vast collection of books and other learning materials but it doesn’t feel overwhelming. The addition of a modern study space upstairs, quiet and secluded at the back gave back space for people to read, to learn, to sit down and relax and as a result it is now a well-used and well-loved space.

3.   Swan Leisure Centre

Designed in 2010, the space is a triumph in encouraging the local community to get active and healthy because simply put, it is a joy to be in there. It is spacious with angled ceiling slabs that control the light beautifully. The wooden panelling of the swimming pool walls adds warmth while its piece de resistance is the pool’s clever ability to raise a partition wall from the base of the pool, turning it into a multi-functional space. The space is extremely well considered for a wide community and as a result it is well used and enjoyed by this community.

4. Meeting House Square, Temple Bar

Like the Swan Leisure Centre, Meeting House Square’s success as a community space is its multi functionalism. By day it is a meeting place, a market space, but can transform by night into a performance space, an open air cinema and occasionally a festival party. The addition of canopies in 2011 plus the ability for the back section of the ark to open up into a stage play with the idea of an indoor/outdoor space resulting in a wonderful addition to the city that can cater to so many different people, adding great value to the cityscape.

5. The Great Palm House, National Botanic Gardens

One of my favourite excursions in the city is to visit the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin. It is vast. It is beautiful but the highlight of any trip there is to enter the grand, imposing palm house which greets you upon arrival. To have such a splendid example of Victorian architecture, which was fabricated in Glasgow in the 1880s, is a privilege and I enjoy stepping into its botanic wonderland at any given chance. Designed at a time where world travel was a pipe dream for many, it stills maintains a magnificent ability to transport you to far places around the place. It is a great piece of architecture because you always leave feeling much better because of your interaction with the space.

Contributed by Stephen Browne


Image Credits

George Street Arcade Gallery

Botanic Gardens
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