CoLab is a group of three emerging architecture offices:

We have come together to develop alternative methods for practicing architecture and advancing architectural discourse in Ireland. Collectively we have extensive experience of working on complex urban sites, collaborating with a range of actors to deliver long-term sustainable change; working with old building fabric; and using the architectural tools of workshops, exhibition and dissemination as a means through which to study, comprehend and communicate the complexities of the built environment.

Our planned consultation and design process

We will develop a collective vision for the creation of a permanent memorial at the former Magdalene Laundry site at Sean McDermott Street in Dublin through a series of consultation workshops and related events with a range of stakeholders and culminating in the delivery of a Vision Document and a temporary Pavilion on the site.

Both our process and outputs will include consideration of the relationship between the memorial and other future uses on-site, and the relationship between the new functions at Sean McDermott Street and those envisaged for the former Rutland Street School.

(Note: We have already begun work on a pro-bono basis, working with Masters of Architecture students at both University College Dublin and Queens University to consider various influential factors such a cost, feasibility, urban strategy, historical context, existing fabric and life-cycle reuse. We have also secured seed funding for the construction of the Pavilion – the final step in our proposed consultation process – from the Arts Council of Ireland in 2021.)

1. Consultation workshops with stakeholders

(Please note: revisions to our consultation process due to Covid19 are described here.)

We will carry out approximately 3 workshops with a range of stakeholders. These workshops will be held at 6-8 week intervals, focusing on :

  1. listening and recording;
  2. reflections and feedback; and
  3. critique and presentation of the various propositions in a draft Vision Document prepared by CoLab.

In advance of the workshops we would meet with Dublin City Council and other stakeholders in order to create a clear list of consultees. This list would then form the basis for our discussions. In our experience, focused, well-structured workshops ensure the best possible engagement, based on the understanding that a certain level of commitment is required from participants in order to make the workshops and their outcomes meaningful.

The consultations would aim to establish clear strategies for the development of:

  1. a permanent memorial on the site
  2. an appropriate relationship between the memorial and the other future uses on-site
  3. an appropriate, productive relationship between the new functions at Sean McDermott Street and those envisaged for the former Rutland Street School.

2. Vision Document

The Vision Document will draw together the outcomes of the CoLab project in order to present its initial findings and outline valid possible directions for future development. As well as functioning as a record of the process undertaken, the document will serve as a touchstone for further engagement with the site, guiding any future approach with reference to the wishes of the consultees. Further to this, the Vision Document will clarify and guide the approach to memorialisation on the site and as such will function as an important, valuable document in future applications for government or philanthropic funding.

Please check out our Interim Vision Document here.

3. Temporary Pavilion & Related Events

The second strand to our working process involves the design and construction of a temporary pavilion on the site, funding for which has been secured from the Arts Council of Ireland. Our intention is to liaise with Dublin City Council to organise a wider public open day on-site, using the pavilion to signal activity and momentum in this place, inviting the public to engage with the site and possibly connecting to city-wide events (Culture Night, Open House). It is intended that the design of the pavilion would be directly informed by the consultation process, the Vision Document and the output of the Architecture schools as well as our own research and working processes at CoLab.