Of all Irish architects, Noel Dowley is the one most associated with, as he puts it, creating ‘an architecture of modest means’. He has often discussed his use of humble materials, his taste for frugality – concerns well evident in the enchantingly inventive New Docks workshop, which fully fills its tiny 14m x 7m harbourfront site. Dowley used what author Brian Ward calls “bricolage architecture” using found objects such as sections of large drainage pipes as porthole windows.
One of the loveliest details, the line of the stairs climbing the external wall, came about fortuitously. ‘It was originally a pencil line, erased on the tracing paper negative,’ says Dowley, ‘but it still showed up as a shadow line on a print among the set of contract drawings, so they built it too!
Dowley’s petite, white, modernist structure has the sculptural presence to hold its own comfortably against the five-storey tower of Galway Bay Seafoods, formerly Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s Fish Processing Station, designed by Piaras Beaumont in the mid-1950s – itself the first-ever building to be commended in the RIAI Triennial Gold Medal awards. Dowley had trained with architect Louis Kahn in America in the 1970s and was also responsible for the modernist style of the former Telephone Exchange Building which was repurposed by Galway International Arts Festival as the Festival Gallery 2019.
A Forgotten Gem for #AATE19!!
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