We are very pleased to announce that in June 2022, Denise Murray with CoLab was awarded the RIAI Architecture Award in Research!

The awards are given each year and recognise the achievements and quality of work architects contribute to the built environment.

Open Heart City Exhibition – February 2022

As part of Brigit 2022, the Open Heart City Exhibition featured the work of over 40 Masters of Architecture students from University College Dublin and Queens University Belfast relating to the site of the former Magdalene Laundry on Sean McDermott St.

This exhibition showcases analysis, drawings and models undertaken by the students in 2020. The exhibition also includes research carried out by CoLab81-7 who, with the support of the Irish Arts Council and Justice for Magdalenes Research, have been investigating how the heritage of these sites of conscience should be acknowledged and explored in order to inform their future role in the lives of our cities.

Vision Document – Interim Report

This Interim Vision Document sets out the objectives, processes and initial outcomes of the CoLab 81-7 project to develop a future vision for the site of the former Magdalene laundry at Sean McDermott Street in Dublin city. Please find more information about the project and the Interim Vision Document here.

About Open Heart City

Open Heart City aims to facilitate the emergence of a shared vision for the site of the last Magdalene Laundry to close in Ireland, in 1996, at Seán McDermott Street in Dublin.

    • The key to the Open Heart City project is a planned consultation process, involving workshops with a range of stakeholders and local communities.
    • This will lead to the production of a vision Document and a temporary Pavilion on the site.
    • Crucially, the consultation process will incorporate the views of survivors of Ireland’s Magdalene institutions, residential schools, Mother and Baby Homes and County Homes, and people affected by forced and secret adoption and other related abuses, many of whom have contributed to previous recommendations on memorialisation.

Open Heart City is a volunteer-led response to the events of September 2018, when Dublin City Councillors, often with great emotion, backed a motion not to sell the 2-acre former Magdalene Laundry site on Seán McDermott Street to a Japanese budget hotel chain. The Councillors overwhelmingly recognised that to take the site out of public ownership would be to lose the opportunity to create an internationally recognised Site of Conscience at the heart of Ireland’s capital city and in an area that has suffered much economic hardship and social marginalisation since the foundation of the Irish State in 1922.

The project is a collaboration between the Open Heart City Collective and CoLab, drawn together by the Centre for Ethics in Public Life at University College Dublin. The project is assisted by M.Arch. students from UCD School of Architecture & Queen’s University Belfast School of Architecture and LL.M. students from the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway.

The Open Heart City team is committed to working alongside the community organisations that have advocated for and have been promised the restoration of the Rutland Street School building just metres away from the former Magdalene Laundry site at Sean McDermott Street. Efforts to recognise and memorialise the systemic abuse and neglect of the past must be designed to help ensure its non-recurrence, through achieving the conditions for flourishing community life and dignified care for all when they need it.

“Open heart surgery is sometimes needed – it is invasive and direct, but at the same time it must be precise. It intervenes and works within what it finds to allow that organism to thrive. It is also vital to bring an open heart and generous, creative spirit to the difficult places so often found in the atrophied chambers of our inner cities.”

Professor Hugh Campbell & Associate Professor Katherine O’Donnell, Open Heart City Project Leaders

This website is sponsored by Justice for Magdalenes Research.