Memorial Gardens Entrance

  • Location: Kilmainham
  • Architect: Mitchell + Associates
  • Completed: N/A

The Memorial Garden commemorates approximately 50,000 Irishmen who having joined Commonwealth forces were killed during the First World War 1914-1918.The Irish Memorial Committee, formed of veterans and the bereaved, gathered in July 1919. Within a year it had collected £45,000 in public subscriptions to finance a memorial. The services of Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944), the eminent British architect of the day was engaged. He had designed over one hundred Great War memorials and cemeteries, and construction to Lutyens’s specification began in 1931. Not alone did Lutyens design both the garden and monuments, but also the entrance-‘Memorial Road’, which originally created a formal access from Inchicore Road.

The labour force was made up of hundreds of unemployed ex-servicemen of the British and Irish armies. The policy of the Office of Public Works on this project was to minimise mechanical intervention in order to create as much employment as possible, and so the garden and its monuments were virtually hand built. The Office of Public Works administrated the contract for the above works, which were completed in 1939. Con Colbert Road was constructed in the late 1960’s which resulted in a major trafficked route running parallel and adjacent to the entrance gates from Memorial road. The axial planning of the original scheme was greatly diminished.  This realignment and its relationship in level terms with the Park has meant that the Garden are not visible from either Con Colbert Road or Inchicore Road (Kilmainham).  The current gateway entrance from Con Colbert Road has no real presence and makes little visual impact.

As Kilmainham/Inchicore develops and clearly benefits from the presence of the Royal Hospital (IMMA) and Kilmainham Goal (Museum) its linkage and association with the Lutyens Memorial Garden is severed by the scale of the dual carriageway.
Conceptual Approach
The principal intervention is the creation of a new public space on an east-west axis north of the carriageway to signal the presence of the gardens on a city scale followed by the upgrading of Memorial Road to connect the gardens with the residential areas of Inchicore and Kilmainham.

The new public space is enclosed by a 9m ‘living wall’ of steel and cable construction which also acts as a semi-transparent gateway to the gardens. The traditional craft of osiery (or woven lattice) contemporaneous with Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll is the source of the inspiration for this enclosing curved wall. This wall facilitates a controlled entrance with sliding gate of bronze designed and detailed by sculptor, acoustic bench seat focusing on vignette along axis to park, ramp insertion with controlled entrance for universal access to gardens, and a ‘window to the gardens’ bisecting the wall and allowing visitors to experience the axial intention of the original scheme.

The upgrading of Memorial Road with a shared surface treatment of granite, a broad pavement along the western edge, a new ‘pergola’ walkway to guide pedestrians to the enhanced crossing to the entrance platform, a new pavement along the eastern edge with an electrical services duct containing lighting points, bollards, seating etc. separating it from a wide vehicular zone.

The new public space north of the carriageway will be illuminated by a variety of means with LED specialist lighting integrated into the depth of the ‘living wall’. Insertions along the length of the carriageway to signal the intervention to fast moving traffic entering and exiting the city and upgrading of median with granite surface are further proposed.

The Digital Hub is a Government backed initiative set up to attract and develop a global digital centre within the city of Dublin, housing a variety of digital media and innovation companies. There are at present over fifty such companies on the site, which previously formed part of the Guinness St. James’s Gate Brewery.

Dublin City Council announced in November 2008 that this project has temporarily been put on hold due to the recession.

Posted by Reflecting City Team on Thursday, September 18, 2008
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