Whitefields Depot, Phoenix Park
Whitefields Depot is a range of buildings laid out in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, to provide for the maintenance and care of the Phoenix Park. Deaton Lysaght Architects were commissioned in 1999 by the Office of Public Works to design a new administration building for the Depot, and to provide for an improvement generally in the layout and finish of the Depot buildings.
The Depot is approached from an avenue at the entrance to the Park Superintendent’s Lodge, and consists of a range of 24 buildings, grouped at either side of a yard. The existing buildings range from small two storey barns, to lean-to structures, backing on to the Park wall. The finish of the buildings generally was very poor, with rusted corrugated sheeting and damaged slated roofs leading to the degradation of the structures generally.
While many of the original buildings were unsound in themselves, it was felt that the layout of the yard as a range of parallel buildings along a linear layout should be retained, as it formed part of the heritage of the Phoenix Park generally.
The brief for the new administration building comprised three types of accommodation, office space for the administration, canteen and communal facilities, and showering and changing rooms. As the existing buildings could not accommodate the required large spaces, it was decided to construct a new building just outside the yard area in a space which was formally an arboretum to the rear of the Park Superintendent’s Lodge.
The new building was conceived as a pavilion, within the tradition of pavilion buildings found elsewhere in the Park. The structure is of timber with laminated post and beam structure and cedar cladding to the office and canteen areas, and masonry and plastered finishes to the shower and changing areas. Canteen and open office areas open southwards with glazed elevations looking on to the arboretum area, which is to be re-stocked with species based on original Victorian planting schemes. The use of natural materials – slate roofs, plastered walls and cedar sheeting, is founded on concerns for sustainable development, a reflection of the building in a natural park environment, and also of the pavilion tradition within park architecture.
Elsewhere in the yard, buildings were re-slated and upgraded, while some were re-plastered with lime plaster and coloured lime washes. The original range of buildings on the north side of the yard were timber post and beam structures, with lean-to roofs extending in to the Park wall. These structures were replaced with a new Irish oak post and beam system, supporting roof decking spanning to the Park wall.
Building work was completed in November 2002, at a total building cost of €2.2 million.