Funded through an Arts Council Commission Award.


A REACTION TO PLACE connects world renowned Irish contemporary dance company, CoisCéim, with architect Jenny O’Leary, in a design project that harnesses the rich heritage and embodied energy of 42 Fairview Strand to develop and present a blueprint for its evolution into a self-sustaining space where dance can thrive. 

CoisCéim has a history of creating site-responsive work, where environments inform the performance.  In this provocative exposition, their new home on Fairview Strand is the protagonist, telling a story of lifetimes lived, and presenting a dreamed vision of the future. Using an artistic process and exhibition to define the brief, A REACTION TO PLACE presents an unconventional approach to the conceptual design of buildings.” -Jenny O’Leary

“One in every eight deaths in Europe can be linked to pollution…There is a clear link between the state of the environment and the health of our population. Everyone must understand that by taking care of our planet we are not only saving ecosystems, but also lives”. EU’s Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius, 08 Sep 2020

CoisCéim fundamentally believes that environmental responsibility will become central to public health policy and that operating carbon neutral / climate positive structures will be an essential part of this agenda. Our desire is to be at the forefront of this necessary shift, and we believe that with her holistic approach, expertise and experience, Jenny O’Leary is uniquely placed to harness the rich heritage of 42 Fairview Strand – embedding its kinetic energy and CoisCéim’s vision and values into the fabric of the space itself – to envision a sustainable future.

A member of the RIAI, Jenny O’Leary’s practice is rooted in “an architecture that accentuates a connection to place. That considers human society as integral to, and a component of nature, not detached from it. That seeks ways to live in balance with the resources we depend on but that are currently taken for granted. That works to illustrate humanity’s relationships and responsibilities to natural resources. Architecture powered by the energy within, a closed loop”. (Jenny O’Leary)

This ethos is mirrored by CoisCéim’s Artistic Director, David Bolger, whose 2018 essay – “Empowerment and Creative Flow” also highlighted the need for balance between past and future: “Creative flow and maturity conduct and transform an intelligent sense for artistic ambition and expression. Think big. Work that is allowed to reach its full potential….that can be examined, investigated in a flexible space. This flexibility can only exist within strong foundations. Rooted in our past to achieve the future” (David Bolger)

A REACTION TO PLACE is an experiment – testing a new approach to conceptual design for buildings by abstracting the brief through an artistic exposition to define a vision for refurbishment rather than imposing a traditional client accommodation schedule. Through this commission from Arts Council Ireland, CoisCéim also seeks to reinforce Jenny O’Leary’s reputation as a vibrant, exciting new voice in Irish architecture.


A film by Ros Kavanagh

WHEN | Sunday 15 October 
WHERE | 42 Fairview Strand, Dublin 3



presented as part of OPEN HOUSE DUBLIN 2021

WHEN | Saturday 16th & Sunday 17th October 
WHERE | 42 Fairview Strand, Dublin 3

The Irish Architecture Foundation’s OPEN HOUSE DUBLIN is Ireland’s largest architecture festival, and is part of the Open House Worldwide international network of 50 organisations hosting festivals and conversations about architecture, design and cities across the globe.  A REACTION TO PLACE was a highlight of the 2021 festival – where the exposition at 42 Fairview Strand was presented as three snapshots in time:

In 1889, the kilns at Ruabon Brickworks in Wales burned approximately eight tonnes of coal to produce the red bricks used to construct this Victorian postal sorting hall. The energy consumed in production would power an electric car’s circumnavigation of the globe ten times. Today, 2023, the building relies on complex networks for basic energy and water needs. Yet, the rainwater that falls on its roof and drains into public sewers could supply clean water for eight people for a year. In an imagined future, 2050, the lessons of the natural world are integrated into the building’s systems. Through natural cycles of growth and decay, systems renew themselves and remain in balance.

Find out more about the background to A REACTION TO PLACE here.


-click images below to see panel detail-



Architect | Jenny O’Leary MRIAI (H O W F F)
Architectural Assistant | Donal O’Cionnfhaolaidh
18.12.08 Book | Jack Hogan
NatureRx Pilot Rain Garden Project | Bí Urban with funding from the Local Area Waters Authority
Photographer | Ros Kavanagh
Production Manager | Mick Stapleton
Projection and Sound Design | Laura Rainsford
Construction | Raymond Kenny
Crew | Damien Woods
Produced by Sarah Latty and Bridget Webster


Jenny O’Leary, MRIAI, is the founder of H O W F F, a competition-winning architectural practice. We focus on the social and contextual value of good, considered design. Our projects investigate material and historical traces, finding and developing connections to the natural world and human communities. We have an open- minded, emergent ethos that emphasises collaboration with the makers and users of the places we design.

Current work also includes: the Town Threshold project (@town-threshold) in Kilmallock, a Children’s Centre, and new- build and refurbishment residential projects (@ h_o_w_f_f). 


CoisCéim signed a 25 year lease on the landmark building at 42 Fairview Strand on 01 August 2020.  Over the last year with the generous support of Arts Council Ireland and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the company has respectfully refurbished the interior to create a fit for purpose creative dance studio for artists and the communities we serve.  At the same time, the landlord carried out extensive repairs to restore the exterior. Read more about its history here.

Exposition photos by Ros Kavanagh