The Ark: Children’s Centre

  • Location: Temple Bar
  • Architect: Shane O’Toole and Michael Kelly Architects
  • Completed: 1996

The Ark first opened in September 1995 and was Europe’s first purpose built cultural centre for children. The brief for the architects was a children’s centre with a dual function: the provision of theatre, workshop and additional spaces for the Ark itself and the capacity for a theatre that opened out onto Meeting House Square.

Originally a Presbyterian Meeting House, the site for the Ark was also used as a printing works and a warehouse. Although listed, its entire interior had been gutted years before. All that remained was the attractive six-bay façade and the plan outline of the original building. The latter became the model for the new design and extensive conservation work, including wigging and tuck-pointing the façade, was carried out during reconstruction.

The Ark’s façade to MHS is even more impressive than its original on Eustace Street. Faced in brick and stone, it is suspended and hovers over the paving of the square. The attic workshop becomes the theatre’s ‘crown’ and the Santiago Calatrava designed metal cantilevered curtains complete its magnificence.

 

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