Many years ago, before my parents let me in the door of Willie Duggan’s, I fell in love with one building. It is, by far, my favourite building in Dublin (not that I have seen them all!). This building has seen so many days, so much history, and we happened to be part of it….even for a just a short time, I think this is where I truly saw the benefits of how Lighting Design can enhance Architecture.
The Dublin Fruit and Vegetable market in Smithfield, built in 1892, however, imagined 30 years previously, was built to sell produce in an ‘orderly and hygienic fashion’. It was designed by Spencer Harty, the Borough Engineer. The stone and iron work were designed to follow the shapes of fruit and vegetables. The statues that adorn the main entrance are of the Goddesses of Justice and Law, and the motto of Dublin City (Happy City whose Citizens Obey). Interesting motto for a building that is now partially covered in graffiti!
In 2000, Dublin City council decided to take the Fruit market and see how they could breathe new life back to its architecture. They approached us to look at the lighting. I remember Dad being extremely excited by this project. I tagging along with him, as we tested in ground fittings and colour temperatures. This was one project he was adamant that he wanted to do the building justice.
Given the year, LED was not an option, so instead we used Xenon lighting technology to give continuous, warm lighting tones downlighting the red brick. This was used to really show the warmth in the brick. To uplight we used cool halogen tones to show the contrast in the architecture and to pick out the features in arch details, and entrances.
At the time, nothing was done on the internal structure as it was still functioning as the market, but it is just as beautiful with the iron detail roof design.
Unfortunately for this building, it hasn’t got the continuous love and attention that it deserves, and has been lost behind graffiti and the grime of the area. However, with the whole zone getting a facelift with redevelopments the Fruit & Vegetable market seems to be on the cusp of a new beginning. Dublin City Council have said that they would like to turn this into a version of the English Market in Cork.
I am so excited to hear this, and will definitely be back knocking on the doors of Dublin City Council to see if we can emulate what was done previously by my father.
Above is an artist image from 2015 of what was proposed then to be done with the area.
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