For the Love of Concrete - Open House Dublin 2022
Journal •

For the Love of Concrete

There is something about (reinforced) concrete and its versatility that almost hypnotises me. Sometimes it will just be the simplicity and functionality that satisfy multiple human needs. And sometimes it will be a three-dimensional experience comparable to an encounter with an expressionist painting (moving towards a new objectivity angle at some point).

When I moved to Dublin, I wanted to find and see all the post-war modernist traces, maybe even some brutalism, if I were lucky. I hadn’t known much about Irish architecture, but I was hoping to see some familiar ideas in a new setting.

The two first encounters, situated on my frequent walking path along the Grand Canal back in 2018, are already gone. I recall clapping happily when I saw the ‘cube’ (I love to call them that!) of the Bord Fáilte building. The cute grey stock bricks I remember so well from the block of flats I grew up in back at home. The amount of light allowed in through a mass of windows! The power of reinforced concrete enclosed in a ‘neat’ and organised space.
And then the Fitzwilton House – a completely different take on what concrete can do, both to the building itself and to the surroundings, as somehow, surprisingly, everything around seemed perfectly balanced. I haven’t managed to take a picture of the third building I discovered during my city strolls, the Kevin Street College, and it’s now also erased from the map…

An avalanche of encounters followed: thanks to an OHD event I was able to visit Busáras and appreciate the astonishing detail of the concrete canopy. I learned about the American Embassy, I gasped at the ‘new’ Abbey Theatre (the bricks!), I enjoyed the Irish Life buildings (there is something overwhelmingly entertaining there) [photo4], I almost hugged the Phibsborough Shopping Centre and almost tripped when taking the best picture of the UCD water tower  (and when trying to capture the absolute genius of the covered walkways, why didn’t we have them back at home?). The Berkeley Library and the TCD Arts Building were a cherry on top of another OHD year.

Reading further, I learned that some of the most consistent and ‘durable’ examples of the more daring approaches can be found among the sacral architecture, inspired and emancipated by the Second Vatican Council. There are still a lot more buildings to discover and document, in case they disappear, making way for the new.

Contributed By Kaja Raszewska

Photos by Kaja Raszewska

Instagram: @radical.confusion



Related articles


Want to stay informed? Sign up for the IAF newsletter