As we look forward to the upcoming Architecture and Building Expo, 6-7 October, Architecture Ireland takes a look at the Expo’s annual Interior Design & Fit-Out Awards through a series of interviews with 2016’s winning practices.
In this article, we speak with Kieran Fitzgerald of MOLA Architecture. In 2016, MOLA Architecture were awarded the Jury’s Special Award for the Dublin Port Diving Bell.
MOLA Architecture won an award in 2016 for the Dublin Port Diving Bell – could you please tell us about the initial aims and brief for this project and some of the main challenges involved?
The link between Dublin Port and Dublin City has weakened to near breaking point in recent decades. This is a cultural loss to the City. In response to this, Dublin Port Company has begun in recent years to look for ways to rebuild this centuries-old connection. As part of this strategy, we looked at the Port’s cultural and heritage assets, its soft values, for inspiration. The reconfiguring of the Diving Bell required a multi-disciplinary approach by an architect-led team of experts to realise a unique cultural and heritage installation on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay. Dublin Port’s brief was to create a unique project which would add significantly to Dublin’s public realm. The success of the project has been enormously positive – a first important step to rebuilding the link between Dublin Port and Dublin City.
The Dublin Port Diving Bell is an unusual project – it is both a monument and a room, an exhibition and an artefact, a piece of conservation and new part of the city all at the same time. How did this complexity emerge during the design process and what were the key influences in adopting this approach?
The Dublin Port Diving Bell project, is a small, but important, essay, in how architects, engineers, artists, and scientists can contribute to celebrating and communicating an often forgotten, but significant chapter in the evolution of Ireland, Dublin City and Dublin Port, while enhancing the public realm. In its new incarnation the Dublin Diving Bell is slowly but surely insinuating itself into the iconography of the Docklands and the City, while informing visitors of the genius and legacy of its designer – the remarkable Bindon Blood Stoney.
How did it feel to have a prize-winning entry in the Interior Design and Fit-Out Awards 2016? Has the award influenced your practice in any way?
The award is a recognition of the diverse skills of architects/interior architects, and their application and relevance to a broad range of challenges. We trust that our clients recognise this(!)
With your experience of Interior Design and Fit-Out, what are the main changes you’ve witnessed in the area of the last number of years and do you have any predictions for the future of the sector?
In our direct experience, we are both witness to and participants in a radical change in the nature of ‘work’ and the workplace. The increased digitisation of the work place has seen the workstation become more adaptable and flexible; sit/stand, hot desk-ing, working from home and all-hands spaces are ubiquitous terms in this workplace transformation. The corporate ethos of the tech multinationals have provided the blueprint in recent years, and increasingly, more traditionally conservative workplaces are making this shift. As designers, being perceptive and recognising differences in workflow and work practises between differing sectors and not offering a one size fits all approach is a key part of our role in the evolution of work. Whats next? Bold colours, natural timbers and bold patterns. Not every office should look like a hipster coffee shop.
Can we expect to see any recently completed work entered into the 2017 Interior Design & Fit-Out Awards this year? Have you any current interior design and fit-out awards on the drawing board at the moment which particularly excite you?
We hope that a number of our recently completed projects might be deemed worthy of recognition and are fortunate to have a number of ongoing schemes which are both exciting and provide opportunities to develop and implement new design strategies.
MOLA Architecture, is a Dublin based multi-disciplinary design focused architectural practice. MOLA draws on the talent and creativity of its staff and their experiences to deliver unique and outstanding work.