By Design: Dublin’s ‘Red Carpet’ and Bord Gáis Theatre

When it comes to sight-seeing, architecture has a place in every destination. Here are two structures worth contemplating on your travels to Ireland’s capital city.

Jan 9, 2012
Grand Canal Square's "Red Carpet" in Dublin
Grand Canal Square's "red carpet" by landscape architects Martha Schwartz in Dublin, Ireland.
Photography Alamy

The place: Grand Canal Square, Dublin

The backstory: An ongoing redevelopment is transforming 1,300 acres along the banks of Dublin’s Liffey River. Depressed former industrial and residential neighbourhoods have been made over into a vibrant mixed-use district newly linked to the city centre by light rail. The new buildings and public spaces include works by internationally famed architects like Santiago Calatrava and Daniel Liebeskind. And the jewel of it all? Grand Canal Square, a waterfront plaza quickly becoming Dublin’s favourite outdoor destination.

The beauty: In Grand Canal Square, everybody’s a star. Of the gleaming new buildings enclosing three sides of the square, the most striking is a theatre; which inspired landscape architect Martha Schwartz to think of the glamour of an opening night. So she made the plaza’s central feature a broad “red carpet” for all to walk, paved in a lustrous resin-glass material, that thrusts out over the water. It is studded with luminous red poles set at various angles—like a bustling throng of theatregoers.

Fun fact: The Grand Canal was built, starting in 1756, to connect Dublin with Ireland’s west coast. The last cargo boat travelled it in 1960—laden with kegs of Guinness.

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Next: Dublin’s Bord Gáis Energy Theatre


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