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A Palimpsest of Architectural Meaning

Alexander Mordaunt


Proposal: Elderly Care Home and Creche 
Location: Railway Street

The Sean Mac Dermott Street Magdalene Laundry remains as perhaps the most morally difficult monument to a legacy of abuse, control, and mistreatment on behalf of the Catholic Church in Ireland’s all too recent past.  The remnants of an architecture of confinement and the dereliction of the site renders the Laundry a malignant visual and symbolic presence on Railway Street and in the NEIC.

This thesis seeks to empower the reclamation of this site by addressing the negative cultural memory through an act of architectural layering. To do so would not be the eradication of history but be the contextualizing of our values and moral ambitions within a past our society has since outgrown. A simultaneous Care for the building as an existing layer of memory and Care for the vulnerable in the architectural expression of the new layer, would allow for a legible juxtaposition between a dark history and a virtuous present. This Architecture of confinement, abuse as well as the building’s legacy of abandonment and rejection would be set against an architecture that is of service for both those in need of Care and the Laundry’s urban curtilage at a variety of scales. The Care for the vulnerable is brought to the forefront of perception of this site. A Theatre of Care, where elderly people and children, so often cared for out of sight in our society, is the prominent architectural feature.

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