A Reaction To Place


A REACTION TO PLACE connects world renowned Irish contemporary dance company, CoisCéim, with architect Jenny O’Leary, in a design project that harnesses the rich heritage and embodied energy of 42 Fairview Strand to develop and present a blueprint for its evolution into a self-sustaining space where dance can thrive. 

CoisCéim has a history of creating site-responsive work, where environments inform the performance. In this provocative exposition, their new home on Fairview Strand is the protagonist, telling a story of lifetimes lived, and presenting a dreamed vision of the future. Using an artistic process and exhibition to define the brief, A REACTION TO PLACE presents an unconventional approach to the conceptual design of buildings.JENNY O’LEARY



CoisCéim Studio

42 Fairview Strand, Dublin 3

15 October 2023


CoisCéim Studio

42 Fairview Strand, Dublin 3

16 - 17 October 2021


“One in every eight deaths in Europe can be linked to pollution…There is a clear link between the state of the environment and the health of our population. Everyone must understand that by taking care of our planet we are not only saving ecosystems, but also lives”. EU’s Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius, 08 Sep 2020

CoisCéim fundamentally believes that environmental responsibility will become central to public health policy and that operating carbon neutral / climate positive structures will be an essential part of this agenda. Our desire is to be at the forefront of this necessary shift, and we believe that with her holistic approach, expertise and experience, Jenny O’Leary is uniquely placed to harness the rich heritage of 42 Fairview Strand – embedding its kinetic energy and CoisCéim’s vision and values into the fabric of the space itself – to envision a sustainable future.

A member of the RIAI, Jenny O’Leary’s practice is rooted in “an architecture that accentuates a connection to place. That considers human society as integral to, and a component of nature, not detached from it. That seeks ways to live in balance with the resources we depend on but that are currently taken for granted. That works to illustrate humanity’s relationships and responsibilities to natural resources. Architecture powered by the energy within, a closed loop”. (Jenny O’Leary)

This ethos is mirrored by CoisCéim’s Artistic Director, David Bolger, whose 2018 essay – “Empowerment and Creative Flow” also highlighted the need for balance between past and future: “Creative flow and maturity conduct and transform an intelligent sense for artistic ambition and expression. Think big. Work that is allowed to reach its full potential….that can be examined, investigated in a flexible space. This flexibility can only exist within strong foundations. Rooted in our past to achieve the future” (David Bolger)

A REACTION TO PLACE is an experiment – testing a new approach to conceptual design for buildings by abstracting the brief through an artistic exposition to define a vision for refurbishment rather than imposing a traditional client accommodation schedule. Through this commission from Arts Council Ireland, CoisCéim also seeks to reinforce Jenny O’Leary’s reputation as a vibrant, exciting new voice in Irish architecture.


Ros Kavanagh's archival film was screened as part of a day-long programme of events at CoisCéim Studio for The Irish Architecture Foundation’s OPEN HOUSE DUBLIN 2023.


The Irish Architecture Foundation’s OPEN HOUSE DUBLIN is Ireland’s largest architecture festival, and is part of the Open House Worldwide international network of 50 organisations hosting festivals and conversations about architecture, design and cities across the globe. A REACTION TO PLACE was a highlight of the 2021 festival – where the exposition at 42 Fairview Strand was presented as three snapshots in time:

In 1889, the kilns at Ruabon Brickworks in Wales burned approximately eight tonnes of coal to produce the red bricks used to construct this Victorian postal sorting hall. The energy consumed in production would power an electric car’s circumnavigation of the globe ten times. Today, 2023, the building relies on complex networks for basic energy and water needs. Yet, the rainwater that falls on its roof and drains into public sewers could supply clean water for eight people for a year. In an imagined future, 2050, the lessons of the natural world are integrated into the building’s systems. Through natural cycles of growth and decay, systems renew themselves and remain in balance.

Find out more about the background to A REACTION TO PLACE here.

Exposition Panels

Click images below to see panel detail.





CoisCéim signed a 25 year lease on the landmark building at 42 Fairview Strand on 01 August 2020. With the generous support of Arts Council Ireland and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the company has respectfully refurbished the interior to create a fit for purpose creative dance studio for artists and the communities we serve. At the same time, the landlord carried out extensive repairs to restore the exterior. Read more about its history here.


Architect Jenny O’Leary MRIAI (H O W F F)
Architectural Assistant Donal O’Cionnfhaolaidh
18.12.08 Book Jack Hogan
NatureRx Pilot Rain Garden Project Bí Urban with funding from the Local Area Waters Authority
Photographer Ros Kavanagh
Production Manager Mick Stapleton
Projection & Sound Design Laura Rainsford
Construction Raymond Kenny
Crew Damien Woods
Produced by Sarah Latty & Bridget Webster