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Flagship historic conservation: Dublin city’s 18 Ormond Quay wins European Heritage Award

A flagship conservation project led by Dublin Civic Trust and supported by Dublin City Council has won a European Heritage/Europa Nostra Award 2021.

The exterior of 18 Ormond Quay, Dublin

Located on the River Liffey, 18 Ormond Quay is a testament to the character and aesthetic of Dublin’s historic City Centre. The project, undertaken by Dublin Civic Trust, saw success not merely in the conservation of an elegant urban building, but a piece of Dublin City’s vibrant cultural identity and Dublin Civic Trust has been awarded the European Heritage Award for the project.

18 Ormond Quay was first constructed in 1843 and is a typical Dublin street building in its Georgian style. The building features traditional brick pointing technique known as “wigging”, used as a means of disguising rough brickwork. The merchant building was constructed originally as a grocer’s shop, with both solicitors’ chambers and living quarters above. Since its original construction, Ormond Quay has been repurposed as both a hotel and a gunsmiths.

Yet, with an influx of foreign investment in Dublin City, the corresponding vacancy of historic buildings has led to systematic disrepair and a vast lack of investment in historic urban buildings, particularly those typical of Dublin City’s European neoclassical and Georgian architectural styles. Prior to the project, Ormond Quay was in desperate need of both structural and stylistic restoration.

The project, carried out over a period of four years, involved major fortification of the building, part of which was at risk of collapse. Both the shop front and the original brickwork were restored to reflect its original appearance and missing components including windows and doors were replaced. Extensive research of the periodic urban style informed the retention of original fabric and finish of the interior, while new oil lamps were affixed to the exterior, to replicate those used in early 19th century Dublin.

The prestigious European Heritage Award recognises and promotes heritage projects across Europe. The finished restoration of Ormond Quay has subsequently been displayed through seminars, lectures and open days for the public as well as for architects, crafts and tradespeople to demonstrate the project as one of best conservation practice of the historic merchant building. It is hoped that this project might encourage similar projects across Ireland and reinforce appreciation of the cultural, social and environmental value of historic urban buildings.

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