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Ireland and the New Architecture 1900-1940

By: Sean Rothery

Publication Date: January 1989


Ireland and the New Architecture 1900-1940 by Sean Rothery

Architecture, like print, is ubiquitous, a part of thefabric of culture which touches every aspect of our lives while reflecting, and articulating, socio-economic change. As the twentieth century draws to a close, the architecture inscribed in its early decades attracts ever-closer scrutiny. The design movements in fin-de-siècle Europe saw manifestations of modernism combine with unprecedented advances in technology and American machine culture, emerging in a ‘new architecture’: Viennese Rationalism supplanted free-form Art Nouveau; Beaux Arts gave way to Le Corbusier; bizarre brick Expressionism of the Amsterdam School coexisted with De Stijl’s bare abstractions.

Modern architecture in the form of the International Style of Gropius and the Bauhaus reached its apogee in the early 1930s, but styles scorned by this orthodoxy – Art Deco and stripped Classicism – flourished alongside it and are now being reappraised. Ireland and the New Architecture 1900-1940 is the first comprehensive study of its subject. It describes the pioneering buildings of the period and examines their intellectual scaffolding and the influence of international design movements, demonstrating that Ireland was no architectural backwater, as is often assumed. It looks in detail at the writings and examples of early modernism and the way in which architects of a fledgling Free State went beyond Britain to France, Holland, Scandinavia, Austria, Germany and America for models of new structures in both private and public spheres of building.

A generous selection of over two hundred drawings and photographs, along with extended interview material with survivors from the time, give this book unique value. It is both a stimulating work of reference and a survey-guide to Ireland’s position in, and contribution to, the mainstream of modern architecture.

‘Every future account of architecture in Ireland should be indebted to this book.‘- Edward McParland, Times Literary Supplement

‘Rothery’s book sheds an illuminating light on Ireland’s progress in the first four decades of this century’ – Frank McDonald, The Irish Times ‘There is now a significantly better foundation for our assessment of the architecture of the early years of this century. Dr Rothery deserves the thanks, not only of architects and students of architecture, but of anyone interested in the history of the built environment of this country.’Loughlin Kealy, Irish Architect


SEAN ROTHERY is an architect and architectural historian. Author of Everyday Buildings of Ireland (1976), The Shops of Ireland (1978) and Ireland and the New Architecture (Lilliput; 1991), he has lectured widely in both Europe and the USA. Read more.

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Weight 1.5 kg
Dimensions 185 × 260 mm
Publication Date

January 1989


Hardback, 281pp