175th Anniversary of the Office of Public Works || Conservation at OPW: Policy, Protection, Partnership

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<ul><li><p>Irish Arts Review</p><p>Conservation at OPW: Policy, Protection, PartnershipAuthor(s): Kevin V. MulliganSource: Irish Arts Review (2002-), Vol. 23, 175th Anniversary of the Office of Public Works(2006), pp. 30-33Published by: Irish Arts ReviewStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25503515 .Accessed: 14/06/2014 04:06</p><p>Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms &amp; Conditions of Use, available at .http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p><p> .JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.</p><p> .</p><p>Irish Arts Review is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Irish Arts Review(2002-).</p><p>http://www.jstor.org </p><p>This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 04:06:21 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=iarhttp://www.jstor.org/stable/25503515?origin=JSTOR-pdfhttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsphttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>I CONSERVATION AT OPW - POLICY, PROTECTION, PARTNERSHIP </p><p>Conservation at OPW </p><p>Policy, Protection, Partnership One of the most </p><p>onerous aspects of the </p><p>OPW's role as state </p><p>architect is to balance </p><p>the demands of the </p><p>present with those </p><p>of posterity, writes </p><p>KEVIN V MULLIGAN </p><p>The responsibility of custodianship, shared by everyone in possession of </p><p>historic buildings, is certainly greater when held in trust for the people. </p><p>Conservation plays a key role for the OPW in the management of her </p><p>itage properties. One of the most onerous aspects of its role as state archi </p><p>tect is to finely balance the demands of the present with those of posterity. There have </p><p>been many factors influencing changes in attitude to safeguarding the architectural </p><p>patrimony, not least our membership of a greater community where our heritage is </p><p>seen and protected as part of a wider European Heritage. The Venice Charter of 1964 </p><p>still forms the basis of best practice and has influenced the approaches to legislating </p><p>for architectural heritage protection. Most significantly for the OPW, the requirement </p><p>over the last two decades for state development projects to pass through the same </p><p>scrutiny as private projects in the planning process has been important to the devel </p><p>opment of policies for best practice. Since 2000 a new Planning and Development Act </p><p>introduces statutory protected structures and establishes the criteria for architectural </p><p>heritage protection. As an official body, the OPW has a duty 'to be effective advocates </p><p>for all the buildings, loved or unloved, which pass through their hands'.1 As many of </p><p>the state's historic buildings are recorded protected structures, it is vital that the OPW </p><p>3 0 I </p><p>OPW 175TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION </p><p>This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 04:06:21 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>by exam- ^I^^^^^^^^^^^H pie. It does so two WB?^^^^^^^^^^^M principal the ^f^ "^^^^H^^^^^^l adaptation and mainte- ?T^ \^^^i^^^BPB nance of buildings for ^x^^^nd?H^^^H^I government and its ^f^5^W(5^j|^^^B agencies - such as ^m3SSo???11?HM^? Leinster House for the </p><p>Oireachtas - and in its management of heritage proper </p><p>ties accessible to the public - </p><p>including Garnish Island </p><p>(Fig 10) and Castletown House, William Conolly's 18th </p><p>century house in Celbridge (Fig 5). ' </p><p>For the OPW each new project sets new con </p><p>straints. Standard practice will steer works through a </p><p>complex course determined by the facts of the building, </p><p>with an awareness that best practice guidance may be </p><p>rigorously tested, even at times fail. Success in pursuit </p><p>of the principles of best practice has been evident in </p><p>the last two decades where its work in this area has </p><p>been recognised with awards from the RIAI and </p><p>Europa Nostra, the most recent recipient being the </p><p>restoration of the Palm House in the Botanic Gardens. </p><p>In the restoration of the Chapel Royal, Francis </p><p>Johnston's delightful Gothic casket in Dublin Castle, </p><p>consideration of the original building accounts provid </p><p>ed greater appreciation for the high level of craftsman </p><p>ship involved in its decoration, whether in Richard </p><p>Stewart's wood carvings or Edward and John Smyth's </p><p>stucco modelling and stone carving (Figs 2</p></li><li><p>ili^iH KJ?????m???^, RW&amp; ..?I - </p><p>Me*** ^1T^ &lt; ** '"* *- JK8? f * mf' WV</p></li><li><p>CONSERVATION AT OPW - POLICY, PROTECTION, PARTNERSHIP II </p><p>attention is turning to the landscape; the relationship </p><p>of the building to landscape is so evident at Castletown </p><p>that one needs to enter the landscape to see, some dis </p><p>tance from the house, in order to view it properly. </p><p>The historic demesne of Castletown is now frag </p><p>mented; in fact it has been subjected to greater change </p><p>in the last fifty years than at any point in its history. The </p><p>OPW now has to engage with a variety of stakeholders </p><p>' to ensure its protection, including private landowners </p><p>and Coillte. It has also been working closely with </p><p>Kildare County Council so that future planning strate </p><p>gies in the area recognise the significance of historic </p><p>designed landscape values; this applies whether in pre </p><p>serving the immediate landscape, planned vistas such as </p><p>those between the house and the Conolly Folly, or in </p><p>the wider Liffey Valley to take account of the relation </p><p>ships with the 'borrowed landscapes' of the neighbour </p><p>ing demesne of St Wolstans and Donaghcomper. How </p><p>best to achieve this involves drawing on Fin?la O'Kane's </p><p>recently published doctoral research.5 Although the </p><p>pressures for development are less at Emo Court (Fig 1), </p><p>similar fragmentation of the historic landscape is evi </p><p>dent and similar measures will be necessary to ensure </p><p>its protection. </p><p>The financial costs associated with conservation </p><p>means that there are often expectations that historic </p><p>buildings should pay their way. Dublin Castle and the </p><p>Royal Hospital Kilmainham are partially operated as </p><p>commercial facilities while most heritage buildings in </p><p>OPW care, like Castletown, charge for access, though </p><p>this is largely to subsidise the guide services. Other </p><p>buildings are clearly less adaptable: although only very </p><p>occasionally used for services, the Chapel Royal is for </p><p>tunate that it lies safely within an important architec </p><p>tural complex and may be viewed as part of a tour of </p><p>the State Apartments in Dublin Castle. The question </p><p>remains however, without regular use, is it sufficient to </p><p>open it simply as an architectural showcase? When this </p><p>happens there is a danger that an historic building </p><p>becomes mothballed to become an 'outsized exhibit'. </p><p>In Fota this issue is to the fore (Figs 3ck7). The </p><p>house, devoid of its historical contents, is presented </p><p>largely as an architectural composition while also being </p><p>used for revenue generating functions. The way in </p><p>which we view buildings such as Fota has been drawn </p><p>into the polemics of art and architecture. In 2005, as </p><p>part of the European Capital of Culture events, Daniel </p><p>Liebeskind's 'Eighteen Turns' pavilion, was set up on </p><p>John Cahill John Cahill qualified at the School of Architecture in UCD in </p><p>1979, and worked in the office of Patrick Shaffrey and </p><p>Associates before joining the OPW in 1981. His training in the </p><p>conservation of Historic Buildings included courses with ICCROM in </p><p>Austria and Rome, the Institute of Advanced Architectural Studies </p><p>in York, and six months with English Heritage in London. </p><p>John Cahill was appointed as Senior Architect with special </p><p>responsibility for Conservation by the OPW in 1999. Since then he </p><p>has worked on a wide variety of projects in Ireland and abroad, </p><p>including the Irish College in Paris (Centre Culturel Irlandais); </p><p>Louvain Institute for Ireland in Europe; the </p><p>Pontifical College, Roma; and St Isidore's </p><p>Franciscan College in Rome. </p><p>He says: 'We look after a mixture of build </p><p>ings: important historical properties which are </p><p>open to the public, from the Chapel Royal, </p><p>Dublin Castle to Castietown House, Emo Court </p><p>and Fota House, which are gems in their own </p><p>right. But our workload also includes more </p><p>mundane work. We are currently cleaning all the </p><p>statues in O'Conneli Street, and are working on Thomas Davis at the </p><p>moment. So there are oddities as well, which are fun because they are </p><p>a different challenge. Working buildings, like the Four Courts or the </p><p>Treasury block, present a different set of problems.' </p><p>Conservation architecture is a fast-developing area of study, and </p><p>John Cahill is also involved in communicating the latest discoveries to </p><p>the academic world: 'Because we are working with taxpayers' money </p><p>on the best of buildings, where there is an educational benefit, we try </p><p>to get that into the public realm, through teaching on specialist </p><p>courses, or arranging site visits for students.' </p><p>John is currently responsible for restoration projects at Castietown, </p><p>Emo Court, and the former Bishop's Palace in Kilkenny. </p><p>the lawn in front of the house and allowed us to chal </p><p>lenge the relevance of historic buildings and consider </p><p>their relationships with modern architecture. This </p><p>arresting structure in reflective aluminum was, not inap </p><p>propriately, compared to a classical folly by the architect. </p><p>That this structure has vanished while Fota remains may </p><p>in itself be symbolic to some, reflecting the endurance of </p><p>particular building types in landscape and conscious </p><p>ness, as well in physical durability, ensuring that the vital </p><p>role of developing conservation within modern building </p><p>practices is central to the role of the OPW. </p><p>Kevin V Mulligan is currently working on the South-Ulster </p><p>volume of The Buildings of Ireland series, published by Yale </p><p>University Press. </p><p>7 Detail of the </p><p>plasterwork in the </p><p>stair hall at Fota </p><p>House, Co Cork </p><p>8 Irish Architectural </p><p>Archive, Merrion </p><p>Square, Dublin; rear </p><p>elevation showing the new central </p><p>glass and steel lift </p><p>structure </p><p>9 Conservation at </p><p>Fota House </p><p>10 Garnish Island, Co Cork </p><p>1 John Earl, Building Conservation </p><p>Philosophy, 3rd ed., Dorset 2001, p. 140 </p><p>2 Alan Murdoch, 'A Glittering Legacy' Irish Arts Review, Autumn 2004, pp. </p><p>130-5 </p><p>3 Earl, op. cit.., p.94. 4 Maurice Craig and The Knight of Glin, </p><p>'Castletown, Co. Kildare -I' in Country </p><p>Life, vol. CXLV, March 27, 1969, </p><p>p. 722. </p><p>5 Fin?la O'Kane, Landscape Design in </p><p>Eighteenth Century Ireland, Cork 2004. </p><p>OPW 175TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION | </p><p>3 3 </p><p>This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 04:06:21 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p><p>Article Contentsp. 30p. 31p. 32p. 33</p><p>Issue Table of ContentsIrish Arts Review (2002-), Vol. 23, 175th Anniversary of the Office of Public Works (2006), pp. 1-48Front MatterForeword [p. 1-1]OPW 175th Anniversary Edition [p. 2-2]The OPW a History of Service [pp. 3-5]Art of the State: Inheritance, Development, Legacy [pp. 6-11]Building for the Nation: Architectural Services at the OPW [pp. 12-17]Weaving Heaven and Earth [pp. 18-21]Preserving the Past [pp. 22-25]A Glittering Legacy [pp. 26-29]Conservation at OPW: Policy, Protection, Partnership [pp. 30-33]Cultural Collaborations [pp. 34-39]Engineering Success [pp. 40-41]Kilmainham Gaol: Confronting Change [pp. 42-45]Future Challenges for the Opw [pp. 46-48]Back Matter</p></li></ul>


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