Alto Vetro, Dublin, Ireland

Shay Cleary Architects
Date Built
March 2008
Pearse Street and Grand Canal Quay, Dublin
Alto Vetro is a slender glass tower that sits beside the Grand Canal at the point where the MacMahon Bridge carries Pearse Street across the canal.  This residential tower stands 16 storeys high and contains 24 two-bedroom and 2 three-bedroom apartments, two pavilions and two retail units.  In 2011 it was awarded the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland’s Silver Medal for Housing.  The awards jury described it as, “pitch-perfect in its relation of form to site: At an important junction of a busy car-corridor and a growing pedestrian route, its slim elegance is a significant new urban marker, confidence and proportion reminiscent not of its modernist but its Italian hill-town antecedents. Its height is apposite against the large sheet of water of the Grand Canal Harbour and adjoining tall structures, old and new. The small urban space it generates along the Quayside is animated by its café on the ground floor. Its elevations counterpoint irregularly-spaced minimalist balconies against the grid of its vertical stripes – simple, yet not easily comprehended and complex as a result.”

The architect's website describes it as, "a pristine glazed rectangular free standing object. Floors are expressed by a thin stone band at each level. The architectural language of the scheme is consciously neutral in the interest of a singular architectural expression and presence. Behind the glazed outer skin sliding timber screens can be arranged at will to modify the sense of enclosure within the various spaces."