It is with great sadness that Temple Bar Gallery + Studios heard the news of the death of architect Niall McCullough.
Niall with his wife and partner, Valerie Mulvin (McCullough Mulvin Architects), were the architects of Temple Bar Gallery + Studios in 1994. Their work involved augmenting the existing building and transforming it into a fit for purpose gallery and studios in the centre of Dublin.
To its present day, the studio spaces at Temple Bar Gallery + Studios remain amongst the most beautiful and sought after studio spaces in the country. Niall and Valerie’s designs created thirty studio spaces. Each a simple spacious room, white walls, sinks and timber or concrete floors, over three stories of the TBG+S building. Individual studios have a unique aspect – some with balcony views to the river, others are south-facing, onto the Temple Bar Street. Good light, ventilation and warmth, provided a model of studio design, giving artists essential privacy for their work, with vital connection to community of artists. TBG+S street-facing gallery is a delight to work with. Artists have enjoyed creating exhibitions for this space, with its big windows, and concrete pillars. It is of a scale that allows for ambition, and yet, it is not overwhelming. Over and over again, the gallery performs for exhibiting artists, and the space is very flexible. Further, it is accessible for visitors, situated on the junction of Temple Bar and Fownes Street in the heart of the cultural quarter.
A defining feature of the TBG+S building is its Atrium. An oval void that punctures the stairwell spanning the full height of the building, off which are located the artists’ studios. The Atrium brings drama, playfully intersecting with the austerity of Niall and Valerie’s successful design. It gets used in multiple ways, for circulation, artworks, improvised events, openings and launches – so many conversations happen in this ‘in-between’ space. At the top level there is a light-filled communal roof garden, that spills to an outdoor terrace, and here, as well as off the studio balconies, one gets views of Dublin’s low skyline, rooftops, little streets and copper domes and the sky, as it constantly mutates and fascinates is ever-present. Embedded in the TBG+S building is a vision for cultural and artistic ambition to be central to civic life.
Frequently, we talk here, about how much we love this building, how it really works, how so many artists have been able to develop their practices with concentrated time and space. Indeed, over 500 artists have had studios in TBG+S since 1994, so in a way, Niall and Valerie’s TBG+S building can be read as the backdrop to the story of many artists working in Ireland over the last 4 decades. This is what good and sensitive architecture can do. Niall and Valerie gave so much to the making of Temple Bar Gallery + Studios, creating the right environment for what it is and can be.
Niall and Valerie were part of a significant movement in contemporary architecture – Group 91 – who played a seminal role in the design and building of the Temple Bar Cultural Quarter. Niall was interested in context and history, urbanism, conservation, materiality and the social aspects of architecture. Many of McCullough Mulvin buildings were about revitalising and augmenting existing buildings with sensitivity to the existing while embracing contemporary expression. Niall’s lifework involved him in civic building, libraries, museums, public art galleries, local authority offices. He was also a writer and thinker and a public figure and a big supporter of art and artists. His death is untimely. He will be greatly missed.
Our thoughts are with Valerie and his son, Nat, and all at McCullough Mulvin Architects.