Friday, 29 December 2006

The Radio Centre - photos by Scott, Tallon, Walker

This is the note I wrote about RTE for Cassell's "1001 Buildings" volume.

RTE Radio Centre
Stillorgan Road, Donnybrook, Dublin, Ireland
Architect: Ronnie Tallon
Date: 1973
Style: Modernist
Construction Materials: Steel, concrete, bronze tinted glass

Scott Tallon Walker’s campus for Radio Telef√≠s √Čireann, three miles south of central Dublin, represented both a new level of aspiration for Irish architecture and a visible expression of the Irish state’s rhetoric of modernisation. The original building, phase 1 of the Television Centre, was constructed as the country emerged from a deep recession in the 1950s with an emigration crisis, which had shaken national confidence. However, the RTE campus boldly asserted a new optimism in Irish life and broke radically with the past. It echoed the admiration of its architect, Ronnie Tallon, for Miesian ideals.

Scott Tallon Walker (STW), which has dominated the Irish architectural landscape for most of its existence, has been responsible for RTE’s buildings for more than forty years. Here the campus ideal finds a more complete expression than at most universities. Among the more successful broadcasting centres built in Europe at the time, RTE combines a Miesian framework with Irish cultural values. The campus has a pleasing village intimacy with Tallon’s complementary designs eloquently demonstrating his belief in the concept of expandable buildings (notably in the case of the Television Centre). The campus concept has also allowed RTE’s different media to evolve naturally at different rates.

With the completion of the Radio Centre, on the north campus, RTE Radio’s programme departments and studios were housed for the first time in a purpose-built building. Its thirteen studios are housed below ground level for extra soundproofing. Production staff are housed in open plan offices on the upper floor. An orchestral studio with a public gallery penetrates the two levels, while the lower level studios are grouped around a sunken garden, which is also a source of natural light.

The RTE campus represents a model of urbanity in the setting of a suburb, one that still has relevance today. Taken individually the buildings have grace and delicacy. As a group, they have managed to maintain the force of the original ideal with remarkable quality.” - Deyan Sudjic, architecture critic

Finally, a perspective from Google Earth.