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Goethe-Institut Irland – Stewart Construction

Stewart Construction’s Goethe-Institut Irland project sets a new standard for the conservation and repurposing of Georgian Dublin buildings.

Stewart Construction has a broad portfolio of heritage work to its name. Its landmark projects include the restoration of St John’s Cathedral, Limerick; Customs House, Galway; Castlebar Courthouse; and No 47-49 Stephen’s Green, Dublin, to name a few.

Its redevelopment and expansion of the Goethe-Institut Irland’s Georgian headquarters at 37 Merrion Square, Dublin, to the design of Henchion Reuter Architects, is a prime example of the excellent standards being achieved by Register of Heritage Contractors members across Ireland.

The Works

The extensive renovation and remodelling of the Goethe-Institut’s Irish headquarters included the construction of a new 1,100 sq m mews to the rear of the original building. The magnificent protected 1787 Georgian townhouse was refurbished to its period glory, which included two stunningly decorated stucco ceilings, with gold leaf and foliage in intricate detail. Also, two beautiful stencilled artworks were uncovered on the walls under old wallpaper, when a services engineer who worked on the house years earlier was able to identify the location of this hidden artwork.

Other works included re-roofing of the existing building as well as works to the original façade.


The new five-storey (two underground) contemporary mews hosts the Institute’s language school and is linked to the original house both at ground and underground level.

The windows of the mews have an interlayer of copper mesh installed between the outer two layers of glass. This provides a mild vision screen as well as acting as a solar protection layer. The building alternates between looking like a glass box and a metal box, as some sections of the glass box are opaque and others are transparent. Another feature of note is leather-covered handrails on the stairs.

A Landmark Building

Rachael Stewart, Director, Stewart Construction, says she is delighted with the final project. “We have completed a number of landmark buildings in this area of Dublin. While each project has its own unique position within our portfolio, the Goethe-Institut Irland is an outstanding mix of restoration and new build, where we employed traditional skills to complete works such as the stucco ceilings, and modern practices for the large, but unimposing, mews building. We are truly delighted with the finished project.”

The Goethe-Institut Irland represents a considerable investment by the German state, which is benefiting the conservation of Georgian Dublin and sets the bar high for future similar projects.