New Entrance For Dublinia


Dublinia is a Medieval and Viking World exhibition which first opened in the early 1990’s and is a popular visitor attraction of Dublin city. Having secured an offer of grant aid from Failte Ireland, Dublinia is embarking on a programme of redevelopment work which will include a substantial upgrade of visitor facilities, the first major refurbishment since its opening. Paul Arnold Architects have been acting as conservation architects to Dublinia since 2005 and are acting as architects and conservation architects for this current project.

The former Synod Hall building which houses Dublinia was built between 1871 1875. The Synod Hall is a large and rather austere building and is of considerable architectural importance (see history section). The modern entrance/reception areas which are located at basement level are however small, unappealing, and very spatially constricted.

PAA have proposed the substantial modification and extension of the existing reception area and entrance porch to provide a spacious and inviting new entrance/reception. The visitor centre is now entered through a new glazed exhibition extension which occupies and provides a focal point to the space between the Synod Hall and the Synod Lodge. This transparent rectangular structure is designed as an eye-catching lure to entice visitors in to view the Dublinia exhibition, and it will house a full scale, part-truncated, replica of a Viking long-boat. The glass will be screen printed with a translucent grey pattern which will preserve transparency but provide a neutral backdrop for viewing the exhibition from within. This pavilion will be constructed using a stainless steel and timber structure with a series of timber portal frames set at an angle to the rectangular ‘glass box’. These will be visible behind the glazing and this structure is conceived to echo the skeletal structure of the ship’s ribs. As this is an archaeologically sensitive site, the foundations will be of a raft type to minimize impact on any underlying archaeological remains. In addition to the construction of the new extension, it is proposed to re-landscape the remaining garden area with new hard and soft landscaping.

Internal alterations to the protected structure are proposed to be very limited in their nature and are concentrated in the existing shop area at first floor level. One notable intervention here is the insertion of folding doors in an archway in the shop. This will serve as a draught lobby to the bridge across St. Michael’s Hill. PAA are also involved with ongoing repair and maintenance works at the Synod Hall.