Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sunlight Chambers on Parliament St

The Sunlight Chambers are one of my favourite buildings in Dublin. A walk up the quays is always brightened by seeing them. They were built in 1902 as the Dublin office for Lord Lever (of Lever Bros fame) and designed by Edward Ould, who was from Liverpool. The name comes from the still manufactured Sunlight Soap. It's Italianate style and has two colour terracotta friezes between the floors. The frieze depicts a history of hygiene, which makes sense if you own Lever Brothers. There's also 3 bas relief roundels with curious looking heads.
Like all good architecture, people were polarised by it and "The Irish Builder" declared it to be one of the ugliest buildings in Dublin. People also disapproved of a foreign architect designing in Dublin, which is hilarious when you consider that a) we were all the same country in 1902 and b) there's a long history of British architects designing in Dublin (hello James Gandon, William Chambers, Edwin Lutyens) It was really dirty for years but thankfully is now restored to its original glory. You can't go inside because it's let out to solicitors but it's easy to walk past for free!

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