The Helix Performing Arts Centre is the most outstanding platform for the Arts in Ireland. It is an international example of how architecture can best serve the artistic aesthetic and cultural needs of a city or even a country. 

The building is located on the main campus of Dublin City University. It is said to be the most complex building to have been constructed in the country in the entire decade.

Project Name: The Helix Centre for the Performing Arts
Architects: Wejchert Architects
Client: Dublin City Council
Purpose: Education
Construction Year: 2002
Building Levels: G+2
Location: Dublin City University, Glasnevin, Ireland

About the Architects

The firm was previously known as A&D Wejchert & Partners Architects. It is a firm based in Dublin, Ireland, established in 1974 by a Polish couple, Andrzej Wejchert and Danuta Kornaus-Wejchert. Andrzej passed away in 2009 and Danuta in 2014. After their death, their daughter, Agnieskzka Wejchert Pearson took over the firm. Currently, it has 2 managing partners, 3 other partners, 2 associates, and a few support staff. 

The firm focused mainly on designing buildings for educational institutions. Among their several works, The Helix Center of the Performing Arts remains their highly praised design. Their other notable work is Sobanski Palace in Warsaw. The building was named the Best Public Building in Warsaw in 1989. Apart from architectural designs, the firm offers estimation, certification, and project management services, including building information modeling.

Awards and Honors

In 2003, The Helix Centre for the Performing Arts won three awards. The most prestigious one was Plan Expo Opus Building Awards Winner. The building also won the Irish Concrete Society Awards and first place in the Irish Joinery Awards. Apart from that, The Helix Centre for the Performing Arts was shortlisted for the Best Purpose-built Venue. 

Design

The Helix Center of the Performing Arts received its name for its helical structure that dominates the entrance. The building contains a concert hall, theatre, studio theatre, exhibition space, artists-in-residence studios, a café, a green room, and other support spaces. The building also has a box office, small shops, toilets, and other amenities inside it. 

The structure is organized by a dynamic geometry derived from three axes converging in the foyer, around which are organized the major spaces. This three-storied building is designed with elevations of contrasting granite and glass. 

The Helix Centre for the Performing Arts by Wejchert Architects: Architecture meets Artist Sheet1
Main View_©cvent.com

There is an open void right in the middle of the structure, through which light spills from the roof. The building is built around a very wide foyer that has inclined columns and a helix-shaped stairway. The unusual stairway is surrounded by inclined columns that are placed circularly. This creates a center of attraction in the building. 

The Helix Centre for the Performing Arts by Wejchert Architects: Architecture meets Artist Sheet2
Helix Stairway_©wejchert.ie

The Helix Centre for the Performing Arts serves as a benchmark for concrete structures in Ireland. The renovated parts of the building consist of an expanded lobby, improvements to the main theater, an expanded patron lounge, and a new exterior glass curtain wall façade that visually enhances the building’s presence on campus. Other updates are a new stage, lighting facilities, and seats that are transformative for patrons, students, and performers. 

The O’Mahony Concert Hall

The Helix Centre for the Performing Arts by Wejchert Architects: Architecture meets Artist Sheet3
The O’Mahony Concert Hall_©bilety.gazeta.ie

It is the main concert hall that has inclining cantilevered balconies on ascending levels. The hall is designed to house 1260 people at once. Construction of the concert hall provided immense engineering challenges with a clear, uninterrupted 20 meters high volumetric space and 2 meters deep 3-dimensional frame roof structure that spans 37.5 x 26.5 meters. 

The roof structure of the hall supports a concrete roof deck that provides high-standard noise control and integrates lighting and maintenance walkways. Other than this concert hall, the structure has another performance area, “The Space”, which is the main Helix studio theatre with a capacity of 430 people. 

The Helix Centre for the Performing Arts by Wejchert Architects: Architecture meets Artist Sheet4
The Space_©wejchert.ie

Present Scenario

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the building is now a base to combat the virus. For the time being, it has been converted into a COVID-19 mass vaccination center since February 2021. 

The structure housed 48 vaccination booths in the beginning and increased the number since then. It has been adapted in such a way that 5000 people can take their vaccination daily, without any hassle. The reception booth is now a space to log details and keep records of the visitors. 

The Helix Centre for the Performing Arts by Wejchert Architects: Architecture meets Artist Sheet5
Present Scenario_©rte.ie

The Helix Center of the Performing Arts is truly the finest example of modern architecture. It can be considered one of the best buildings on the northside of Ireland. Facing the immeasurable structural problems, this concrete building eventually set a bar for other educational buildings. 

Even details such as service installations and public areas were extremely high-standard. The complexity of the building can be shown through minor details such as paving, drains, and services, realignment of an access road, and the completion of a pedestrian tunnel that links to the complex multi storey car park. 

References

Bennettconstruction.com. 2021. [online] Available at: <http://www.bennettconstruction.com/project.php?id=9&project=23&title=The%20Helix%20Performing%20Arts%20Centre%20(DCU)> [Accessed 9 April 2021].

En.wikipedia.org. 2021. The Helix, Dublin – Wikipedia. [online] Available at: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Helix,_Dublin#:~:text=The%20Helix%2C%20formally%20The%20Helix,main%20campus%20in%20Glasnevin%2C%20Dublin.> [Accessed 9 April 2021].

En.wikipedia.org. 2021. A&D Wejchert & Partners Architects – Wikipedia. [online] Available at: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A%26D_Wejchert_%26_Partners_Architects> [Accessed 9 April 2021].

The Irish Times. 2021. The Dublin theatre-turned-vaccination centre: ‘We’re planning for 5,000 people a day’. [online] Available at: <https://www.irishtimes.com/news/health/the-dublin-theatre-turned-vaccination-centre-we-re-planning-for-5-000-people-a-day-1.4482546> [Accessed 9 April 2021].

Wejchert.ie. 2021. Awards | Wejchert Architects. [online] Available at: <http://www.wejchert.ie/awards> [Accessed 9 April 2021].

Images

  1. [image] Available at: <https://www.cvent.com/venues/dublin/conference-center/the-helix/venue-3eef16d5-10fe-46cf-9257-d15eac73b5ec> [Accessed 9 April 2021].
  2. [image] Available at: <https://bilety.gazeta.ie/places/info/93> [Accessed 9 April 2021].
  3. [image] Available at: <http://www.wejchert.ie/projects/project-detail/the-helix-performing-arts-centre-dcu> [Accessed 9 April 2021].
  4. [image] Available at: <https://www.rte.ie/news/coronavirus/2021/0220/1198295-helix-vaccine/> [Accessed 9 April 2021].
Author

Tulisha Srivastava is a B.Arch student with a zeal for writing, reading, and traveling. She is an aspiring architect who wants to share her viewpoint with the architecture community. Tulisha has varying interests in the fields, which include historical buildings and the relationship between movies and architecture.

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