The Abbey Theatre

As the government began discussions on finding a new home for the existing Abbey Theatre, the students of DIT were asked to evaluate potential sites within the city centre by one of the local senators.

As Ireland’s National Theatre, the Abbey is currently housed on a small plot tucked away and out of sight; one of the city’s key cultural spaces forgotten by the city. Our group proposed relocation to a relatively small site located on the public thoroughfare of O’Connell Street – a location with a high volume of public transport and links to several of the city’s busy retail corridors.

The site and brief demanded a high rise development to accommodate the requirements associated with a National Theater. Three different performance space types, a public restaurant, café, bar and ancillary services were stacked and sunk into the site in an attempt to respect neighbouring heights and yet make the most out of the available plot area.

An existing façade of the disused Carlton Cinema was a protected structure that had to be retained presented an exciting opportunity. This façade allowed the preservation of the visual street lines while setting the new build back from the street to create an open air spill out space for theatre goers that would allow crowds to gather without blocking up the street itself. To the rear of the site exists some of Dublin’s oldest and best known markets on Moore Street. The open spill out space doubled as a passageway through the site – connecting the markets back to the central transport hub of O’Connell Street.

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