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Game plan: TAKA, Ireland

Merrion Cricket Club pavilion in Dublin by TAKA Architects epitomises their ethos of creating buildings rooted in their physical and sociological contexts

TAKA won the Peter Davey Prize in the AR Emerging Architecture awards 2019. View the shortlist here

Cricket is unique among organised sports in that it comes with a specific architectural type: the cricket pavilion. An auxiliary structure that adds little to the actual playing of the game, the cricket pavilion is nonetheless central to the broader culture of the game in ways that generic stadiums or arenas for other sports are not. The pavilion is not only where the team members up to bat await their turn at the stumps, but also provides space for changing, for watching the game and, most crucially, for socialising with a drink after it. 

The generous portico and viewing terrace of the Dublin-based TAKA Architects’ Merrion Cricket Club, also in Dublin, makes manifest the social intent of this type. Replacing a flood-ridden predecessor, TAKA’s pavilion holds traditional functions inside a modern and irregular form; its elegant, sloping roof and clean, concrete colonnade mask an awkward site that is restricted on multiple sides, noticeable from the project’s unusual pentagonal footprint. 

Taka merrion cricket pavilion dublin architectural review emerging 05

Taka merrion cricket pavilion dublin architectural review emerging 05

Source: Alice Clancy

Better known for their residential work around Dublin – in particular the protruding brickwork bonanza House 01 or House in a Palm Garden (AR June 2019) with its framing of rare palms – the cricket pavilion was the practice’s first public project; another sports pavilion is due to complete in 2021, this time for Belvedere College SJ in Dublin. This portfolio of work has earned TAKA a place in Dublin’s rich contemporary architecture culture. ‘The architectural community in Dublin is open and mutually supportive in spirit’, reveal directors Alice Casey and Cian Deegan, who founded the practice in 2007. ‘There is an unspoken understanding that we are all working together to create a strong building culture.’

TAKA are committed to rooting projects in their specific climatic, geological, socio-political contexts, with a particular interest in vernacular architecture around the world. ‘We love how these buildings drink in all aspects of their environment and re-present them in built form’, the pair explain. 

Taka merrion cricket pavilion dublin drawings architectural review emerging

Taka merrion cricket pavilion dublin drawings architectural review emerging

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The topic formed a large part of Deegan’s PhD by Practice, in which he breaks down this synthesis into a triptych of: decorum, the need to engage with the physical context of a place; exotica, the urge to draw on spaces and experiences around the world; and pragmatics, a ‘scaffolding within which these two seemingly conflicting desires are knitted together’.

This approach is highlighted in a competition entry for a new Irish Embassy in Toyko, whose steeply pitched roof echoes the built heritage of both Ireland and Japan. Although unsuccessful, the competition entry exemplifies the scale of project – in terms of both complexity and public profile – towards which TAKA are working, and their ambitions to move beyond the ‘rigid and risk-averse’ public procurement system in Ireland. They are interested in making buildings in places where they are outsiders, relishing the challenge of designing ‘radically different buildings, using an approach of cultural synthesis’.

This piece is featured in the AR November issue on the Foreign + Emerging Architecture – click here to purchase your copy today