Leinster Pavilions / Siopa Pavilion

  • Location: Georgian / Governmental Quarter
  • Architect: Bucholz McEvoy
  • Completed: 2008

Since 1922, Leinster House has been the home of the Oireachtas, the government of the Republic of Ireland. The courtyard in front of Leinster House, originally designed as the main city entrance to the house, became the entrance to the National Museum and National Library in 1890. The function of the entrance to the Oireachtas is as the forecourt to the democratic centre of Ireland. This courtyard therefore contains representations of the pillars of any society – its government, its knowledge, and its history. The entry is quite constricted: between the gates of Leinster House along Kildare Street,  and two large London Plane Trees that were planted in 1904. The project objectives were therefore concerned not only with security issues but also with the symbolic and aesthetic role of the Pavilion.

In order to achieve these objectives, a simple glass pavilion has been designed which streamlines the process of entering the Oireachtas. The new entry is composed of three parts: the renovated vehicular entry,  the glass entry pavilion and the refurbished stone exit pavilion. The vehicular entry is a simple stone apron, enclosed by the pavilion and grass. The Pavilion is a trapezoid in plan, due to the orchestration between the existing stone Pavilion, the existing London Plane trees and the spatial demands of the brief to have adequate waiting space for groups visiting the Oireachtas.

In order to provide as unobstructed view as possible, structure is placed principally in the roof, with Glue laminated “X” beams providing all lateral restraint. The desk creates a generous and secure entry,  curving around the tree to create a security screening point through which people must pass, and finally providing able waiting space once they have been screened.

In 2008 work was completed on  the Siopa,  the final element in the refurbishment and enhancement of the entry to the Oireachtas. The ensemble of elements included in the overall project are, the Welcoming Pavilion, the renovated vehicular entry, the refurbished stone pavilions, and now the Siopa. The Siopa is the sister building to the Welcoming Pavilion, reflecting it in design, without directly mirroring it.

The Siopa is designed to:

  • To provide a longstanding and unobtrusive convenience shop service to members of the public and members of the Oireachtas.
  • To provide a canopy for conducting television interviews in the forecourt of the Oireachtas.
  • Create a clear exit from the Oireachtas forecourt.
  • To maximize the beauty of the forecourt to the Oireachtas, and in particular the existing Plane trees.
  • To provide clear views of Leinster house from Kildare Street.

The Siopa is a simple glass pavilion that contains all of the elements necessary a convenience shop, including sweets, minerals, newsagents, dry cleaning service, and small items of jewellery and keepsakes for visitors. Like the Welcoming Pavilion, the Siopa is a trapezoid in plan, pulling the entry back from the main exit path through the existing stone pavilion, while creating a canopy under which television interviews can take place between the existing London Plane trees. The Siopa is embedded and established within the ground - to conceal the counters as Kildare street slopes down, and to create a pedestrian landscape within the Oireachtas forecourt.

In order to provide unobstructed views to Leinster House the structure of the Siopa is placed principally in the roof; glue laminated beams provide all lateral restraint, allowing the columns to remain slender. The counters become seating elements both inside and outside, helping to create a new landscape around the existing trees, and integrate this unusual function within this important external space.

Posted by Reflecting City Team on Wednesday, September 17, 2008
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