The project was originally commissioned in 2006, after grant funding was received from the EU, which was championing the screening of European-made films in purpose-built cinemas as a pushback against Hollywood.
dePaor developed the design through analogue means – hand drawings and models at varying scales – to test the qualities of rooms, circulation spaces, the passage of light and the relationship between structure and linings. Located in the old town between the docks that face the Atlantic Ocean and the River Corrib that flows into it, the building sits on a very tight corner plot previously occupied by an early-nineteenth-century merchant’s house.
The grit-blasted concrete façades appear as render from a distance and have a similar quality to the exposed firewalls of Berlin. The façades are punctuated with 25 square operable windows made of Iroko with galvanized steel plate sills to throw off the rain. They are arranged in a seemingly scattered pattern, giving little indication of internal use. Indeed other than the words ‘Palace’ and (the Gaelic) ‘Pálás’ imprinted on the thinnest sides, the building’s form and language give few clues as to its function.
All of the external hardware to the building is fabricated from 6 mm galvanized mild steel including: the weathervane – a cut profile of a woman chasing her silhouette for north; the coping and cornice – cleated for scale when viewed from the street; the entrance canopy – a tripartite gutter which ends in the letters ‘pálás’, as well as staircases, gates and railings at street level.
Galvanizing was chosen for its texture and colour – flat against the west of the Irish sky; the way it weathers to a soft grey and how it complements the limestone and concrete.