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Studio Practice

O’Donnell+Tuomey was founded in Dublin in 1988 by Sheila O’Donnell and John Tuomey. The practice began with two public commissions arising from their cultural and social engagement: the Irish Film Institute and Ranelagh Multidenominational School. Both buildings have since been extended by us in a continuing relationship with the original clients.

We are a studio-based practice. We are committed to the craft and culture of architecture. We are focused on urban design, cultural, social and educational projects at home and abroad. We have completed schools and colleges, theatres and cinemas, community centres and social housing, art galleries and libraries in Ireland, the UK and on the European mainland. We have designed masterplans in cities, and university campuses. We do not specialise in any building type. Rather we are specialists in taking a brief, in understanding the nature of sites and the needs of users. We approach each project with a fresh and open mind. Our buildings do not look the same; each is a specific response to its brief and its physical and social context.

Our work goes beyond the design of buildings to include things; furniture, fittings, lights, landscape elements, installations and exhibitions. We have collaborated with makers and artists, with builders and craftspeople. We have a craft-based approach to architecture with extensive use of physical models, sketches, paintings and mock-ups.

Teaching, lecturing and writing are an integral part of our critical practice. Sheila O’Donnell and John Tuomey take time to write and reflect on the theory and practice of architecture. They are both practice professors in UCD and regularly teach and examine in schools in the US, UK and Europe.

We have exhibited six times in the Venice Biennale, making installations which advance our research into aspects of architecture- materials, form, construction, space- as well as its overlap with other art forms.

We have received over 120 national and international awards for our completed buildings. Our work has been widely published and exhibited. Ten monographs are currently in print.

Sheila O’Donnell and John Tuomey were awarded the RIBA Royal Gold Medal in 2015, given for a lifetime’s work. In the same year they received the Brunner Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, given for significant contribution to architecture as an art.

We keep the practice at a size that allows both of the founding directors to be closely involved in every project at every stage of development. Each project is led by one director with the support of a co-director and a team of architects. In 2018 we appointed 3 co-directors: Willie Carey, Jeana Gearty and Mark Grehan. As well as our Dublin base we now have studios in Cork and London.

We are now developing our competition-winning designs for the V&A East Museum and Sadler’s Wells East dance theatre in London’s East Bank, and a new central library for DIT in Dublin.

Our practice has an international reputation for its engagement with complex urban situations and sensitive landscapes. Much of our work has involved the meaningful integration of new structures into historically significant contexts, often involving the radical transformation of existing buildings. A strategic understanding of place and a careful interpretation of context allows an architecture to emerge, an architecture which can unlock the latent potential of the situation.

We intend our buildings to feel ‘strangely familiar’ – original in their concept, contemporary in their expression, but belonging to the deeper background of their place.

We aspire to an architecture of useful beauty.


Our Team

Awards

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The practice has been selected for more than 120 national and international awards and commendations over the past 30 years and has been shortlisted as finalists for major European awards including: the Stirling Prize (1999, 2005, 2011, 2012 and 2014); Mies van der Rohe European Award (1997, 1999, 2003, 2011, 2013 and 2015); Lubetkin Prize (2009 and 2010); and the Palladio Prize (1993).

O’Donnell + Tuomey have won the AAI Downes Medal for Excellence in Architectural Design seven times and in 2005 were awarded the RIAI Gold Medal, the highest award in Irish architecture.

Sheila O’Donnell and John Tuomey are the 2015 recipients of the Royal Gold Medal, the world’s most prestigious award in architecture.

Publications

Monographs Books Periodicals

O’Donnell+Tuomey have been featured in many architectural publications. The following is a selection of recent publications.

2017

100 Contemporary Brick Buildings Taschen, featuring LSE Student Centre

2016

Notations: Working Drawings, Saw Swee Hock Student Centre, London School of Economics, Gall Editions

2015

Interpreting Site; Studies in Perception, Representation, and Design, Genevieve S. Baudoin

Practical Poetics in Architecture, Leon Van Schaik

Space for Architecture – The Work of O’Donnell + Tuomey, Artifice Books

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