Re-imagining and reinvigorating a piece of ingenious design that was created by one of Ireland’s greatest engineers is no small feat.
It is actually an incredibly brave and important project to undertake, which is why the Diving Bell project on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay is the first entrant on Construction Network Ireland’s 12 Projects of Christmas list.
The Diving Bell was designed by the fantastically named Bindon Blood Stoney, who was the Port Engineer of Dublin and who among many other important projects was responsible for building O’Connell Bridge in Dublin City. The Diving Bell was constructed in 1871 by Grendon and Co. in Drogheda.
Stoney’s Diving Bell design allowed masons to work in relatively dry conditions under water, constructing many of the quay walls that make Dublin Port what it is today, including its current home on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay.
The Diving Bell was a revelation in its day and was so effective in its design that it was used until 1957 when it was finally retired. The device gets its name from its shape, which is reminiscent of a table top bell that might be used to summon a servant in some of Dublin’s more salubrious properties during more genteel times.
The re-purposing of the Diving Bell involved a multi-disciplinary team led by Seán O’Laoire of MOLA architecture.
The effect is visually stunning – having sat unused and mostly unnoticed for decades, the new design means that the Diving Bell and its significance can no longer go unnoticed or unappreciated.