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contributed by 323 World Architecture Festival , 8 July 2009


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Description Chq:

Brief history and context
CHQ (formerly known as Stack A) was constructed around 1820 to a design by John Rennie, the renowned Scottish Engineer who was responsible for the Tobacco Docks in London as well as Howth and Dun Laoghaire harbours. The ground floor, intended for the storage of tobacco, has brick external walls enclosing a vast space of approximately 7000sq m with a sophisticated cast iron frame supporting a slated roof and glazed lantern lights. Basement vaults comprise stone walls and brick arches designed for wine storage.

Over the years, the building has had a great variety of uses, most memorably in 1856 for a banquet for 3000 veterans of the Crimean War. Changes in use resulted in alterations to the basic building fabric. The most significant alteration was the removal of the south end of the building in the 19th century to allow for the widening of the quay. Poor maintenance in the early part of the 20th century caused further deterioration of the fabric and structure. When the DDDA took on responsibility for the building, it was virtually derelict and unused. Large areas of the slating were missing and parts of the vaults were permanently under water.

Conservation Works.
Studies on how to conserve the building were commenced in the mid 1990s. The greatest challenges were the repair and cleaning of the cast iron frame and the need to insulate the roof to allow the building to be occupied rather than just used as an unheated store. There was no access to the basement vaults from within the building. The elimination of the water in the vaults, involved the investigation and repair of underground Victorian culverts and flood valves that prevented the Liffey from flooding them at high tide. The removal of sand-cement pointing to all the external brickwork and the restoration of the original façade with tuck pointing was particularly difficult. There was no ventilation or means of servicing the vaults. Solutions were found that resolved all these problems while retaining the essential structure and fabric of the building.

The plain brick south wall was replaced by a planar glass wall set back to allow the vaults to be seen from street level and to allow daylight light into the vaults. An entrance door has been provided in response to the construction of the Sean O’Casey Bridge. A new glazed structure on the west façade provided access to the vaults from outside the building. On the east façade, all of the necessary service entrances, fire escapes, loading bays and building services were housed in compact plant rooms.

This is one of the most impressive and important buildings of its type in Dublin. Its vast scale and intricate detailing are a unique expression of the elegance and durability of cast iron as a structural system and a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of the period. The works that have been carried out by the DDDA will ensure that the building has been conserved in a manner that allows it to be put into sustainable use.

chq- Client account

As part of the economic and employment history of the city, the chq building (previously known as Stack A) is regarded as being of national importance for many people associated with Dublin docklands and with citizens generally.

Photograph by: Michael Collins - MCA

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Information Chq:

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Dublin, Ireland

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