Fellow interiors voyeurs, let’s indulge our inner nosey-parkers and take a trip around some of our architectural treasures.
These are not usually open to the public but they will be open in Cork from Friday, September 30, to Sunday, October 2, and in Dublin from Friday, October 14, to Sunday, October 16.
For a particularly satisfying snoop, a house built in the 1930s in O’Connorville, Tower St, Cork, has undergone a major renovation.
Similarly, a seemingly tiny, single story cottage on Ballinlough Road, fronted by just a door and window, hides a renovation project that has made the space suitable for modern living, while sensitively retaining elements such as exposed original brickwork that nods to the house’s history.
Historical themes, if not positively medieval ones, come with Cork’s Narrow House.
Measuring little more than two and a half metres wide, it’s located on Red Abbey St, home to the last surviving medieval building in Cork.
Previously named Cumberland St, to honour the Duke of Cumberland’s victory in the Battle of Culloden in 1745, this historic fact may well point to the age of the house.
All three houses, though, are a reminder of how buildings can and need to evolve to meet the changing needs of generations of occupiers, without changing the spirit of the original architecture.
Open House also has some curiosities, including the 19th century Crawford Observatory on the grounds of University College Cork, one of only four observatories remaining on the island of Ireland.
Guided tours would normally only take place during Cork Heritage Week each year, so the Open House weekend is an added bonus for anyone who would like to do some stargazing through the recently added open roof.
Odlum’s flour mill is just one of a number of dockside buildings which will also be open.
Although the 1890s building is a protected structure, the interior may not survive forever in its present form, so get a look-see now before it’s too late.
But it’s not all about history: Contemporary buildings get a look in too with a chance to visit the newly-built St Angela’s College on St Patrick’s Hill, designed by award-winning architects O’Donnell + Tuomey.
They’re also responsible for the design of the Glucksman gallery which is open to the public six days a week, but for the Open House weekend, architect Willie Carey will give a tour of the gallery which made it into the architectural publication, 1001 Buildings You Must See Before You Die (pub. Quintessence) in 2007.
There’s little going on culturally this year where 1916 isn’t referenced. Local historian and author Tom Spalding will lead a walking tour of Cork’s architectural influences on Saturday, October 1, at 3pm, starting at the GPO on Oliver Plunkett St.
The tour will look at the city’s roots as a 6th to 9th century monastic settlement, through to Anglo-Norman influences and the emergence of a busy port and trading destination, and the building work that necessitated.
It then moves onto the early part of the 20th century and how rebellion and later civil war impacted on the architecture of the city centre, razing most of it to the ground before rebuilding it for modernity.
With this in mind, the wider context of architecture and heritage, and its survival and development are dealt with at The Gate cinema, which hosts the Tim Slade directed film, The Destruction of Memory.
Dealing with the destruction of monuments of historical and cultural significance, it examines how this loss impacts on these societies.
It’s easy to think this only happens in places under the influence of destructive organisations like Islamic State and uncouth despots, but obliteration of the past occurs here too.
One only has to drive along Washington St these days towards the Grand Parade to see the open wound soon to be filled by concrete, where once stood The Capitol cinema, one of the few pieces of Art Deco architecture Cork possessed, now gone forever.
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