A €19 million artist’s campus is planned for the Liberties

By: November 9, 2020
Francis Bacon's studio Dublin

A new ‘creative campus’ in the Liberties area of Dublin is on the cards.

Dublin City Council will carry out a feasibility study to assess how three council-owned sites could be transformed, developed and regenerated as workspace accommodation for artists.

€19 million will come from the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF) to develop the project.

For years, artists in Ireland have voiced a need for high quality and appropriate workspace, where they can create and collaborate on their work in a secure, affordable and vibrant environment. (Above is a picture of a recreation of Francis Bacon’s studio).

“Earlier this year we undertook research, reaching out to the sector to help us establish principles for any new development,” says Ray Yeates from Dublin City Council’s Arts Office. “We focused on building and space design, but also addressing wider issues such as artform mix, support services, public outreach and interactions, and governance models. Our research shows that almost 41% of artists who responded were currently seeking workspace, with no current alternatives and a further 10% working from home.”

Dublin City Council has published seven design principles that will apply to these three new sites to create the Liberties Creative Campus.

Design Principle 1 – Value & Affordability: Creating affordable workspaces through economic design choices is imperative. Consideration should include extended tenancy agreements, and support for artists when they decide to move elsewhere.

Design Principle 2 – Form Follows Function: A key consideration for any future design will be to ensure the workspaces are pragmatic in their function and respond to the practical needs of artists. Priority considerations should include; storage; controllable environment (lighting, acoustics, adequate soundproofing, ventilation and temperature); access; safe and secure work environment access, and equipment; well-placed communal and individual facilities; secure and large scale access points for drop off and load equipment/artwork/supplies.

Design Principle 3 – Flexibility: Flexibility should be at the core of any design considerations – such as artist medium to the flexibility of space and even flexible tenancy models. Consideration should include; a variety of workspace sizes (in footprint and height) to fit or adapt the space needs of the artist, allow artists to work in solitude or in larger groups as they please – including rehearsal and performance spaces; provision of private and quiet areas within the building; exhibition and performance spaces that showcase work to the public and other artists; areas within the building for artists to sell, perform or exhibit their work, perhaps in a partnership or in place of traditional ground floor retail; spaces to host classes and separate meeting rooms, easy access to private or public outdoor space.

Design Principle 4 – Collaboration: A key design consideration will be fostering an environment where artists communicate and collaborate effectively. What it looks like includes; access to communal spaces to foster interdisciplinary collaboration, a professional network to enhance the building’s sense of community.

Design Principle 5 -Readiness to change: A new artist workspace incorporating cutting edge technology to meet the needs of artists now, but also factor in future technologies and opportunities to meet future needs, offering effective digital connection for communications, administrative technology and adapting to the needs of the arts, creative and digital sector.

Design Principle 6 – Diverse & Supported Communities: Consideration will be given to how size, shape, age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, education levels, income, spoken languages, culture & customs can be designed for from the start. They are creating spaces where artists have access to commercial opportunities and support services such as training or professional development.

Design Principle 7 – Inclusive and Welcoming: Artist workspaces can have a reputation for being closed and insular. New workspaces should consider openness and inclusivity as a key priority. They are creating a clear public frontage, and identifiable and welcoming entrance to the building. Prioritising city centre located sites with access to local series and the public transport network and can be easily accessed via active transport.

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