We developed a brief for the proposal in collaboration with Pallas, an artist led organisation based in the North inner city. Pallas runs a complex of artists’ studios, occupying derelict or under-used buildings on short-term leases.
The programme that emerged from the collaboration with Pallas includes the provision of six new artists’ studios, each of which can be subdivided to accommodate two to four artists, a basement black box gallery space, a formal gallery space located in the first floor library of no.15, an entrance/gallery and office space at ground floor, and a workshop in the basement.
The generating ideas determining the approach taken are derived from a study of 13 Henrietta St. From the Henrietta Street Conservation Plan we know that numbers 13, 14 & 15 were built simultaneously and that originally the complete no. 15 was a mirror of number 13. It is our proposal to reinterpret the original plan of number 15 to make number 15/16 a unified single building with dual use.
Originally, number 15 would have had its main entrance in the first bay of number 16, the entrance opening into a hall containing a grand staircase leading to the main public rooms on the first floor, following the pattern of the classical ‘axis of honour’ route common to most important Georgian houses.
Main stairs of 13 Henrietta Street:
We have combined the idea of a reinstated mirror plan with a desire to turn inside out the decorative scheme of the neighbouring buildings – instead of an undecorated brick box, richly decorated internally, we propose an ornate container which is entirely undecorated internally.
From survey drawings of the staircase at Cuffsborough House in Co. Laois (held in the Irish Architectural Archive) we propose to construct a cast bronze copy of a formal Georgian staircase. This staircase is fitted externally on the building, bringing this decorative element into the public sphere.
It is protected from the elements by a coloured glass curtain, the colour of which has been taken from the excavated paintwork in the entrance hall of number 13. By organising the stair in this manner it is intended to provide an entrance sequence comparable to the ‘axis of honour’. It is envisaged that number 15 would share the repositioned main entrance.
The lower levels of the building are formed in cast in situ board-marked concrete, with the boards to be used to be salvaged period floorboards, jointed as in number 13 to give the impression of extra width.
The upper levels of the building are clad using enamel coated panels, the modular pattern for which has been taken from the wall panelling in the library at number 15; the colour proposed is again taken from the colours excavated on the walls of the hall of number 13.
The arrangement of studio spaces to the rear of the site and on the upper floors of the Henrietta St. side of the building is less formal than the entrance sequence and is based on the interconnection of a number of varying height volumes in a manner based on the computer game Tetris.
To Henrietta Lane we propose the laying of a tile mosaic plane following the design of a period Persian rug. This mosaic is taken throughout the ground floor of the new building and over the pavement to the front of numbers 15 and 16.
Using a modular system derived from the internal decorative scheme of the existing buildings the scale of the proposed building achieves a relationship which harmonises within the terrace. The form and massing combine to produce an unapologetic presence on the corner which we see as important in allowing it to punctuate the terrace and hold convincingly this significant point.