City Architect, Ali Grehan at Pc-house Awards, Shanghai and Defuse Dublin


Alongside Hidden Rooms, November also saw two presentations from City Architect Ali Grehan on design in the city.  The first took place in Shanghai at the Pc-House Modern Design Awards, where she presented an outline of house typologies in Dublin, from the earliest ‘Dutch Billies’ right through to contemporary schemes such as Thornton Heights and Dublin House.  The second presentation took place closer to home, as part of Defuse Dublin 2014, and dealt with the ‘Architectural Criteria’ outlined in the city’s development plan.


The Pc-House Modern Design Awards took place in Shanghai to recognise the best in Chinese design.  Ali Grehan was invited to act on the expert jury for the awards and also deliver an address to delegates at the ceremony.  This presented a unique opportunity to share her insight into contemporary Irish architecture, particularly residential design, showcase the work of Irish designers working in private and public sectors to an international audience, and also explore common ground with Chinese practitioners. The overarching message was that Irish architects and designers deliver excellence in the ordinary; that our work is inspired by our unique heritage and cultural identity and that everyone deserves great design.

The presentation charted the development of housing in Dublin from the earliest Dutch Billies, including 9/9a Aungier Street, through to the present day.  Included in this presentation were the 18th century Georgian townhouses, the artisan districts of the Victorian era, and the social housing schemes of Herbert Simms.  These historic typologies were considered in relation to contemporary residential projects reflecting the dialogue between past and present in contemporary design.


The development of the typologies culminated with the Dublin House projects.  Also featured were contemporary product designers working in the city.  Thanks must go to all the architects and designers who contributed images of their work for the presentation.

The presentation, as delivered in Shanghai, can be viewed in pdf form here


November also saw the 6th annual Defuse Dublin event.  This event brought together twelve designers, from across disciplines, working in the city today.  To keep the ideas and inspiration coming thick and fast, each speaker was limited to 20 slides over 5 minutes.  Ali Grehan’s presentation discussed the five Architectural Criteria outlined in the city’s development plan.

These principals, overlapping and interdependent, are listed in the plan as clarity, order, fit, craft, and generosity and present in good design of all scales and eras.  The presentation demonstrated all five principals using both contemporary and traditional examples from around the city.  Particular attention was paid to generosity, a principle often overlooked or dismissed but profoundly important to the development of spaces for a humane and liveable city.  As well as providing local exemplars, the presentation also demonstrated the importance of generosity in the work of renowned architects such as Carlo Scarpa, Alvar Aalto, and Herman Hertzberger.


Watch the full presentation here

The presentation, can be viewed in pdf form here