Open House Dublin is Ireland’s largest architecture festival and it offers a unique opportunity for visitors to explore the rich architecture of Dublin. Over 100 tours, events and workshops took place allowing people access to building not usually open to the public. We went down on Sunday to check out one of these fascinating and hidden treasures – 9/9a Aungier Street, a 17th century building hiding in plain sight (hiding in plain sight is right, I walked past it!).
The tour first included a visit to no. 20 just up the road, where the passionate and knowledgeable guides filled us in on the Aungier Street: Revitalising an Historic Neighbourhood project aiming to put this often overlooked area back on the map as a place to work, live and visit. Upon entry, we proceeded upstairs to take a look around the house. The fireplace on the top floor was particularly impressive, the layers of wallpaper and paneling revealing a palimpsest of its history and use throughout the years.
Plans are in the works for this house to be turned into three comfortable family sized apartments while keeping in with the original aesthetic. But as the guide put to us – “what is the original, what came first or what came next?’, with so much change in fashion, and varied use of the building throughout its history, at which point to set the ‘original’ standard.
Our next port of call was the real highlight of the tour no. 9/9a, Dublin’s oldest, most intact domestic building. Today the facade of the building is completely unassuming and you wouldn’t think twice passing it on the street but originally the building looked much different. Built as part of a 17th century elite development, the facade has been modified over the years, the sloped roof remodelled in a more Georgian style. Evidence of the original layout can be seen on the top floor.
What make this building so significant is how much of the original is still intact – the staircase, roof structure, the medieval style timber framing, the remnants of original paint and plastering. There is so much history between the walls, giving us brief glimpses into its past. The remnants of patterned wallpaper and later plastered newspaper on the walls tells us of the different classes that once resided there, originally for a more elite class of citizen, later poorer tenements. The notches on the timber frame gives insight into how the house was made and the superstitious beliefs of the workers.
Open House Dublin is definitely high on my radar of must do festivals in Dublin. The whole tour was a great experience, the guides were exceptional and getting to walk around a real relic of the past was a treat. Already looking forward to knocking off a few more architectural musts from my bucket list next year!