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Interview Learning Public realm

Tell Us About This Place We Call Home


So we have announced the dates, we have announced the theme and we’ve told you some of the highlights. This Place We Call home, what’s it all about? IAF nabbed the very busy Michael Hayes for a quick chat about Open House Dublin 2015. Michael is this year’s Open House Dublin curator. He’s a young architectural graduate, in his own words, editing all the things. He founded and edits 2ha magazine a quarterly which considers our suburbs. He is an editor with Architectural Association Ireland and online editor for RIAI publication Architecture Ireland. So he has his finger in lots of architectural pies!

IAF: Tell us the theme of Open House Dublin 2015 in one sentence?

MH: The theme this year is This Place We Call Home and it is about the spaces and ordinary icons that make Dublin from our kitchens to the streets, that place we call home.

IAF: So you’re the curator of Open House Dublin, what does that involve?

MH: It begins with researching buildings that have previously featured in Open House Dublin and those that haven’t featured and seeing what’s available, what’s in the city. It’s a long editorial process of honing it down and stripping it back… it’s picking buildings essentially.

IAF: The chicken or egg questions, did the theme come before that process or after?

MH: Yeah, the theme came first. I was approached by Irish Architecture Foundation with the theme of housing. I began to think of what housing might mean and how to make that relevant to the conversation that’s currently taking place in the general public and the media. A lot of the talk is on the quantity of housing units. We shouldn’t forget that when we are talking building 10,000, 20,000 or 30,000 new homes we should be talking about not just building three bed semis in a field. What we’re building are huge chunks of our future city.

IAF: So it’s about building communities?

MH: Yeah, it’s about how we’re shaping the city, but more than that the theme is about what makes Dublin the place we call home. It’s not just a case of the houses we live in but it’s these very mundane or ordinary icons of everyday life whether that’s Busaras, The Spire or Liberty Hall. Buildings that every Dubliner, born and bred or a blow in like myself, is familiar with. It’s a wider appreciation of the city and what it means to live here.

IAF: Housing is a huge issue at moment, it’s at crisis point, can you tell us how the programme addresses that?

MH: There is a good mix of residential architecture, private homes, one off houses, extensions and more recent apartment schemes that you might find in the docklands. We are also featuring a lot of public housing this year. Public housing is really key to emphasise because some of those structures from 40s, 50s and 60s are probably the most undermined houses in the collective psyche of Dublin. For example there’s great schemes often repeated around the city of these two story maisonettes that are stacked up in four or five levels. That’s a completely lost way of building; we have almost delegitimised it through development plans and other forms of legislations. Hopefully the programme brings to light the vast range of housing types that Dublin has produced over the centuries and could be produced again.

IAF: We know you’re only a young fella, but have you been following Open House Dublin over the past 10 years?

MH: I have of course. Open House started the year before I started studying architecture. It’s always been on the landscape of architecture for me, always been part of the Dublin scene and the wider culture of architecture in Ireland. How great is it to start something like that? To go from zero to 100 buildings is a big leap and to be able to build on that over the last decade is great.

IAF: Have you got any favourite memories from the past 10 years?

MH: The memory of getting to the top of Liberty Hall always stands out to me. I think quite a a few people have done that over the years. It is obviously intended for public viewing, it is unfortunate that it’s closed off except for those occasional visits. The view just opens up the city. That was amazing. Also to get into Grafton Architect’s Department of Finance building. It is one of my favourite buildings in Dublin and possibly the greatest staircase I have ever encountered. When else do you get into the Department of Finance building unless you work there?

IAF: What are you most excited about in this year’s programme?

MH: I am most excited about some of the tours in the Open House Dublin Plus programme. Rather than rely upon standard and not really relevant descriptions of city districts, like north inner city, south inner city, outer suburban ring or whatever that might be, I have curated the programme to consider the buildings as being in very architecturally coherent districts or part of the city. Whether it’s Marino or Crumlin, with these amazing geometric patterns that emerged when they were built, the intensity in the city centre, or the Victorian architecture of the south east coast. I am looking forward to the tours that bring the point home that when we’re talking about housing, we’re really talking about it at multiple scales, from the unit to the scheme and then to the city.

IAF: So where do you call home? I presume it’s the suburbs!

MH: Of course it’s the suburbs, it has to be the suburbs. Goatstown is where I live, although even now, in my 26th year I still have a tendency to call Cavan home. I still go home the odd weekend. But in Dublin I’m definitely suburban based and that’s a place that I have appreciated more over the years.

IAF: You’re also editing the publication, but of course. Can you tell us about that?

MH: It’s being designed by Conor and David, so in terms of graphics it’s going to look really well. The book structure is very much set in three parts. First of all it will look at where we have come from with an essay by Declan Redmond (lecturer in the School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Policy, UCD) who will provide an insight into the boom bust period. The Programme of events and list of houses will contextualise where we are now: this is what we have, this is what’s available to us and this is what we might learn from. The final closing chapter is about where we are going. Michael Pike (principal of GKMP Architects and Studio Lecturer in the School of Architecture in UCD) has written an essay about where can we go, what options are available to us and how good design can influence this.


Open House Dublin 2015, This Place We Call Home runs from 16 to 18 October. The full programme of events and buildings will be announced mid-September and will coincide with the launch of the website and publication.  

Our members will be getting perky perks this year for Open House Dublin, we will have members only lottery tours, priority access (yes that means you can skip the queues) and more to be announced. Be one of our friends with benefits from as little as €30 for the year. Become a member HERE.

Don’t forget: If you love Open House Dublin and love Dublin’s architecture you can text OHD to 50300 to donate €4 to OpenHouse Dublin.

T+Cs: 100% of text cost goes to Irish Architecture Foundation across most network providers. Some providers apply VAT which means that a minimum of €3.26 will go to Irish Architecture Foundation. Service Provider: LIKECHARITY. Helpline: 01 4433890.

Image: Ste Murray