- Architects: Henchion Reuter Architects
- Location: 37 Merrion Square S, Dublin, Ireland
- Area: 2100.0 m2
- Project Year: 2018
- Photographs: Fionn McCann Photography, MAGNAPARTE
- Project Management: IPC Talkenberger Gmbh
- Architect & Generalplanner : Henchion Reuter Architects
- Conservation Architect : Shaffrey Associates
- Quantity Surveyor : Leonard and Williams
- Structural Engineer : Brunner Engineers
- M&E Engineers : IN2 Engineers
- Fire Consultant : Michael Slattery Assocates
- Façade Consultant : Murphy Façade Solutions
- Landcape : TTT (Thirtythreetrees)
- Acoustic Engineers : Awn Ltd
- Assigned Certifier : ORS
- Archaeologist: Courtney Deery Heritage Consultancy Ltd.
- Contractor: Stewarts ltd
- Client : Bundesamt Fuer Bauwesen und Raumordnung
Text description provided by the architects. Until recently, the Goethe Institute in Dublin was split between a Georgian house on Merrion Square, which houses the cultural programme and another Georgian house on nearby Fitzwilliam Square, which housed the language school. This construction project relocates both functions to the Merrion Square premises, to facilitate greater interaction between the language students and the cultural programme the institute offers.
The house at 37 Merrion Square was designed most likely by Samuel Sproule, Architect and built between 1780 and 1786. Internal stuccowork was completed by the stuccodore Robert West.
The house has retained much of its original features although the original gardens and mews to the rear have been lost. The main structure was in reasonable condition but needed a significant upgrade in terms of building services and fire safety. The Goethe Institute previously completed refurbishment works in the 1970s.
Plans to relocate the language school to this location were developed in 2006, with Henchion Reuter Architects commissioned to develop a design for same after an open tender competition in 2010. Construction works began in 2016 and completed in 2018.
The new-build consists of a sub-parterre level over most of the site, which is a half level above Stephen’s Place to the rear, with a split level three-storey mews above this. There is also a further part-basement of storage and plant beneath. The new building provides seven classrooms, an auditorium and accommodation for teachers and administration staff. A new garden has been provided on the podium level between the existing house and the extension in line with the historical precedent. The new-build is designed to service the existing building and will form a single functional unit consistent with the Georgian plot arrangement of House/Garden/Courtyard/Mews/Courtyard.
To mitigate the scale of the mews development, the new build makes a material distinction between a solid base (including the garden walls), and an emergent crystalline form. The brick base is completed in ‘Lithium’ brickwork by Vandersanden bricks. The emergent crystalline form is glazed with a bespoke vertically spanning high performance triple glazing system with ‘Okalux’ copper mesh installed between the outer two layers of glass. This provides a mild vision screen and acts as a solar gain protection layer. The building therefore alternates between reading as a glass box and a metal box. At night the building reads differently again as some sections of the glass box are opaque and others are transparent.
The design anticipates the development of a 5 storey hotel to the north of the site and 2 storey mews development to the south. The massing of the building has been modelled to give definition to this scale adjustment.
The new-build is designed to service the existing building so the original Georgian structure has been relieved of much of the plant and infrastructure requirements. The project (the combination of the new build with the existing building) achieves a combined BER rating of A3 which is a significant improvement from the current F rating. This provides the protected structure with a more sustainable future and thereby even greater conservation protection for it.
The original house has been re-instated in line with the original Georgian details. Significant craftsmanship was require to repair the stuccowork and the first floor ceilings were completed in the original colouring with gold-leaf detailing. The colour scheme elsewhere was based on analysis of paint fragments found on the site. Floor boards were recovered and re-used where feasible.
Lime base products were used throughout sand and cement pointing was removed for the external brickwork and replaced with pigment lime ‘Tuck’ pointing.
Considerable effort was required to achieve an upgrade in building services, fire safety and disability access without compromising the original building fabric. The existing building will house the administrative functions on the upper floors, library at first floor, with reception and auditorium at ground floor. A café in the basement can be reached from within the building but also directly from the street.