The issue of Dún Laoghaire Baths has been stagnant for many years because of difficulties with a foreshore licence that would allow the Council to carry out the necessary works. The convoluted application process started in 2012, when the Council sought permission for the works, from the Department of Environment, Community & Local Government. ‘Approval in Principle’ has now been issued by the Minister of State with responsibility for foreshore licences.
The original Baths east of the East Pier, were constructed in 1843 by John Crosthwaite and named the Royal Victoria Baths. In 1896 Kingstown Urban District Council purchased the baths site and the firm of Alexander Fraser was engaged to build the new baths on today’s site. The works were completed in June 1908 and can mostly still be seen today. The baths were improved and extended in the 1930s and were in use in various forms, including Rainbow Rapids, until they were closed in the early 1990s.
Read more about the history of Dún Laoghaire Baths on archiseek.com, abandonedireland.com, askaboutireland.ie,
One of the great features of the site of Dún Laoghaire Baths is that it is on an elevated spot, with great views towards Dún Laoghaire Harbour, Scotsman’s Bay and Dublin Bay, Newtownsmith, Sandycove Harbour, the Forty Foot, and the James Joyce Martello Tower, and it’s great potential to connect the walkway at Newtownsmith to both the East Pier and the People’s Park.
However, the location also means that it is on a slope with a north-easterly aspect that receives limited sunshine and can feel exposed when windy or when seas are rough.
Under the scheme, the existing Baths Pavilion will be retained and refurbished for use as artist workspaces, a gallery café and for the provision of public toilet facilities. Existing dilapidated structures to the rear of the Pavilion will be removed to permit the creation of a new route and landscaping that will connect the walkway at Newtownsmith to both the East Pier and the People’s Park, and it is proposed that the existing saltwater pools will be filled in, creating new enhanced facilities for sea swimming and greater access to the water’s edge by means of a short jetty.
The existing Baths Pavilion together with a smaller outbuilding will be retained, weathered and secured while the remaining dilapidated outbuildings to the rear and side of the Pavilion will be removed.
It is proposed to fit out the Pavilion to accommodate studio space for artists and to provide gallery and café facilities, with the original entrance on Windsor Terrace being restored and an outdoor ‘café terrace’ being created and linked to the new café. It is also proposed to create new public toilets facilities at street level, which will also be accessible for wheelchair users. Footpaths along Windsor Terrace will be upgraded and new street trees planted as part of the process.
With the removal of derelict buildings on the sea-side of the pavilion, there will be a new pedestrian route to connect the walkway at Newtownsmith with the East Pier, at a level that will create a safe and secure walk with panoramic views over Scotsman’s Bay and places to sit.
The land adjoining this walk will be re-graded to create grassed areas which will thematically link the Park at Newtownsmith to the Maritime Gardens that currently lead to the East Pier, and the small, historic gazebo situated along this route with be refurbished.
A new jetty and a changing area will be created to provide enhanced access to the water for sea swimmers and to provide a landing point for kayaks and canoes and other small marine craft. This jetty will be linked by new steps to the ‘café terrace’ at the Baths Pavilion and to the pedestrian crossing point leading to the People’s Park. It is also hoped that jet water fountains could be installed in the area next to the pedestrian routes, between the Baths Pavilion and the sea.
Images from DLRD Architect’s Report here.
Hofler Architects, Monkstown, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin