The ruined Church of St Luke’s on St Luke’s Avenue is set to be transformed into a spectacular new offices set in parkland over the coming 12 months. The project arises from the 2005 St Luke’s Conservation Plan for the church, of which only the outer walls remain.
St Luke’s is an historic parish church that established in the thriving Newmarket district of the city in its 18th century heyday. The church was built between 1715 and 1716. In common with many Protestant churches of the period, St Luke’s had a rather plain and simple exterior, with an almost rural feel, and a classical Italianate style inside. Its congregation, originally crowded with the prosperous Protestant denizens of Newmarket and surrounds, later with poor classes, declined and declined until the church closed in 1975. In the 1980s it fell victim to arson and became ruined. It was then taken in charge by Dublin City Council and various efforts made to secure its reuse, most recently in 2005 with the St Luke’s Conservation Plan.
The current work will see the church and its grounds transformed in line with the Conservation Plan and planning permissions granted in 2009. The work has three elements:
A new public parklet to the front of the church facing St Luke’s Avenue. The garden will consist of a terrace with ramp and steps to access, a play area and seating and planted areas including mature trees. This area was the original north churchyard, liked to The Coombe by an avenue, now lost with the construction of the Coombe Bypass in the 1990s.
The churchyard to the south of the church will be restored as an historic graveyard and contemplative space. The space will be accessed from an existing gate from Newmarket. New planting, seating and lighting will be added. Historic grave markers and features will be restored and the ancient holly and hawthorn planted here will be retained. The landscaping works are being overseen by Bernard Seymour Landscape Architects.
The third element is the restoration and adaptation of the ruined church. The outer walls will be conserved and a new steel roof added. Suspended from the roof, a new structure will create new offices spaces within the church, set back from its Italianate chancel. The ‘building within a building’ will allow new contemporary uses while retaining the integrity of the surviving 18th century fabric. This project is being undertaken by Derek Tynan Architects for the St Luke’s Partnership.
The current programme envisages work on the church itself completing in October 2017. Preparatory works have already begun. The two park projects will be completed in tandem, starting in February (south graveyard) and May (north) respectively. The works commence in what is the 300th anniversary of the construction of St Luke’s.
For more details of the St Luke Conservation Plan see here. This is an action of the Dublin City Heritage Plan.