O’Donnell + Tuomey Architects lecture

The Irish designers' attentiveness to context and the public realm is on display in their Current Work lecture.

March 9, 2015

Recorded on October 28, 2014.

Current Work is a lecture series featuring leading figures in the worlds of architecture, urbanism, design, and art.

Founded in 1988, Dublin-based O’Donnell + Tuomey Architects has developed an international reputation for cultural, social, and educational buildings. The firm is particularly recognized for adeptness at weaving extraordinary new structures into constrained urban sites and attentiveness to the civic function and public life of their buildings.

Their lecture describes the “tactic or method of our life’s work,” in Tuomey’s words. The two present the genesis of four recent projects—the Glucksman Gallery at University College Cork, the Irish Language Cultural Centre in Derry, Budapest’s Central European University, and the Lyric Theatre in Belfast—to illustrate design principles including continuity between interior and exterior, a sense of movement, natural lighting, and weaving old and new.

They then turn their attention to the recently opened Saw Swee Hock Student Centre at the London School of Economics, winner of the 2014 RIBA London Building of the Year Award, among numerous accolades. With canted brick walls of 175,000 handmade English bricks, the building has a striking form within a tight medieval street pattern: a singular, continuous form to house a wide diversity of university programs. The recessed entry allows for a new public space and exchange between inside and outside, creating a “sense of the neighboring buildings working with the new building to make a kind of revised context.”

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