Ireland is famed for its architecture, which spans the centuries. Famed for buildings that range from the grandest of Norman castles via elegant Georgian dwellings, mighty gothic fortresses and rococo mansions to the most modest of whitewashed cottages, the architectural landscape of the country is certainly never dull.
In the latter half of the 20th century, a change in the economic situation led to what could be described as a true renaissance in both Irish design and culture, which placed some key Irish cities at the epicentre of new trends in contemporary architecture whilst retaining the most attractive elements of structures of times long past.
Many areas in Ireland started life in medieval times, and in many part of the country this legacy is still visible today, for example in Derry’s fine ancient walls. Dublin and Cork, by contrast, were designed around their thriving sea ports, and showcase some impressive quays. Many supplementary buildings were also constructed at a similar time, including storehouses and granaries, some of which have been converted into enviable modern dwellings.
The Georgian period saw the building of elegant squares and terraces. While many of these were sadly demolished, some do remain, and are now some of the most desirable (and expensive!) areas to live in Limerick and Dublin. Many design influences inspired by the Georgian period remain popular, including the popularity of parquet flooring in Ireland, such as that available from Wilsons Yards and others, which is used by many modern architects to bring a sense of the charm of this period of history into the most contemporary of homes.
During the 20th century, architecture in Ireland tracked the wider international tendency towards modernistic, sometimes surprising building design, especially after it became fully independent in 1949. Both new structures and conversions were carried out sympathetically, utilising space and light to best effect. More recently still, there has been a noticeable shift from the construction of relatively low one or two storey buildings to ones that are a great deal higher. Such buildings are both architecturally impressive and also ergonomically sound, using as they do a small footprint to obtain a much larger capacity overall. In keeping with the environmental preoccupations of our time, all new buildings need to meet strict guidelines in terms of sustainability and many architects are increasingly using renewable materials too.