Donaghy + Dimond
IRELAND - The Donaghy + Dimond office is on Francis Street in the centre of Dublin, not far from Christchurch Cathedral. Francis Street is an old street, a rich mix of life and inhabitants, a busy thread which necklaces schools, churches, theatres, pubs, antique and music shops, an array of homes and apartments, businesses and industries – it is in part at least a textbook model for dense, rich, city-centre living. Along this street, behind an ordinary shop window, visually open to and from the street, is their office, just one of the neighbours, nothing special, not screaming to be noticed.
Marcus Donaghy and Wil Dimond established their practice in 2001. Since then they have built numerous rural and urban domestic projects and won commendations on a number of large-scale competitions in Ireland. The work focuses on extracting potential from a given situation – brief, client, site, materials – skilfully combining these potentials into a rich, tectonic, living architecture.
Marcus Donaghy: There was no conscious plan to work together but we might have shared interests when studying. We were asked by the City Council to collaborate on a feasibility study for renewal of an urban space, Weavers Square, in 1999. I was working on my own, Wil was thinking of moving on…
Wil Dimond: There was definitely a common direction, not explicitly stated, an enquiry into what makes for enduring architecture, an openness about the role of the architect…
Emmett Scanlon: Do you have a 'vision' for this practice?
MD: No, I don't think we have a vision. And we are open as to the kind of work we do, though I think we wouldn't have an interest in developing beyond being a small- to medium-sized practice. The key factor being probably an intimate knowledge of every project and a direct relationship with clients in which we can provide a personal service. We like to spend time with our clients and understand their requirements, and 'camp out' on the site, get a sense of its grain and experience its particularities.
ES: When you began your practice, was the work a progression from the work you had been doing in other practices, or was it a case of wanting to move away from that work, to establish and cement your own way of thinking?
WD: Working with O'Donnell and Tuomey was a formative and engaging experience, so it was less a question of moving away – there is a continued working relationship – as an urge for self-definition. To see what would happen if we followed our own noses. We had no clear agenda beyond a pursuit of quality and an interest in making…
MD: We had both worked in the building industry at various times during and since our formal education; the floor laying was perhaps the first cementing of our thinking. I had worked in New York as a carpenter before working with Paul Keogh and then working as a sole practitioner. As we were both residents (10 and 20 years) of The Liberties [an old area of Dublin City, of which Francis Street is part – ed.], we shared an interest in the local development of the city and as a practice we have an interest in local ecology.
Architecture, Theory, Urban planning