'As easy as plugging in a fire' Modernity, Morality and the Mespil

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Described as the ‘most modern block of flats in Dublin’ and the biggest such scheme in Ireland at its completion, the architecture of the Mespil apartments enjoys a complex history of social innovation and domestic mechanisation. Set within a sylvan landscape inherited from an eighteenth-century mansion on a prominent canal-side side at the edges of Dublin’s central city, it was developed in its entirety by Irish Estates – a branch of the Irish Life assurance company – and realised in two distinct phases by two different architects: W. J. Convery and later Tyndall Hogan Associates. The Mespil was designed to accommodate a new urban white-collar workforce of mobile singletons and couples mainly in one-bedroom apartments and bedsits with temporary tenures. This chapter investigates how, in the socially conservative and religious Ireland of the 1950s, the Mespil represented a radical break from cultural and architectural norms.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIrish Housing Design 1950-1980
Subtitle of host publicationOut of the Ordinary
EditorsGary Boyd, Brian Ward, Michael Pike
PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages25
ISBN (Print)9781138216426
Publication statusPublished - 11 Dec 2019


  • morality
  • singleton
  • gender
  • women
  • domesticity
  • architectural design
  • housing design
  • Dublin
  • apartments


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