Team 3DDB’s 5km Architectural Gems Challenge

The opening up of our country marks the start of the end of a tumultuous year for us all. As we welcome life beyond our 5km, we look back at the architectural beauty we found on our doorstep.

We asked our team to get out and about to share photos of their local hidden gems within their 5km radius’ and the stories behind them. These included statues, obscure buildings, public squares, walls, design features and more.

With a team spanning Ireland, England, Spain, Portugal, Latvia, and the Netherlands (to name a few), we were sure to see a variety of outstanding structures from around the world.

The goal of this challenge was to look at our locales with a fresh perspective, learn the historic significance of buildings/structures and to promote health and fitness.

As if that was not enough of an incentive, all our participating team members were placed into a draw to win some fitness-inspired prizes. Up for grabs was a Fitbit Inspire 2, wireless ear buds and a €50 Lifestyle Sports voucher.

Our team set to work exploring their local towns and diving into the history of their locals, whilst getting fit and healthy in the process. From impressive statues and innovative buildings to unique architecture and divine spaces, here is a breakdown of what Team 3DDB found on their travels.

Team 3DDB’s 5km Architectural Gems Challenge

Hidden Gems in Dun Laoghaire, Dublin.

We begin with the first of four entries from our Junior Project Manager, Angel who was out for a stroll in Dun Laoghaire. She captured the Dlr Lexlcon public library and cultural centre of Dún Laoghaire. Opened in 2014 and proudly overlooking Dublin Bay, the centre is largely naturally ventilated, as such the funnel-like roof was an unintentional architectural feature

The dlr LexIcon building in Dún Laoghaire showcasing its' funnel-like roof feature
The dlr LexIcon building in Dún Laoghaire showcasing its’ funnel-like roof feature

Angel also captured a home extension by architects and partners, Tiago Faria and Jane Considine. Their striking — and subtly humorous — side extension features a full-length window at street level that has a curved roof that appears to “pour” over it. This eye-catching design subtly sitting along a row of terraced homes in Dún Laoghaire is said to catch the attention of many curious passers-by.

Unique window feature designed by Tiago Faria and Jane Considine in Dublin.
Unique window feature designed by Tiago Faria and Jane Considine in Dublin.

Lastly, Angel captured an award winning scheme of 12 ‘rapid build’ homes designed by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council. The homes are sandwiched between Kelly’s Avenue and Stable Lane, just yards from Dún Laoghaire’s majestic harbour.

An enterprise centre beside an urban social terraced housing in Phibsborough.
An enterprise centre beside an urban social terraced housing in Phibsborough.

Hidden Gems in Blackrock, Dublin.

Our post-production artist Cormac, explored his local area and found a ‘Futuro Pod’ designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen. Less than 100 of the pods were built during the late 1960s, making this a rare find. They were initially designed as ski cabins; however they have been adapted over the years with this particular one in Blackrock Market being used as a ‘portable’ office.

A ‘Futuro Pod’ designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen in Blackrock Market
A ‘Futuro Pod’ designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen in Blackrock Market

Hidden Gems in Leidschendam, Netherlands.

Sent in by our BRE Daylight & Sunlight Analyst, Esther Kleise, ‘The Salamander’ is located within 5km of her family home! The Saw Mill was built in 1643 then rebuilt in 1778 following a major fire. It uses a combination of wind power and steam engines to mill logs to saw. The Mill was fully restored to its former glory in 2014 following over 60 years of inactivity.

The De Salamander wood sawmill located in Leidschendam, Netherlands.
The De Salamander wood sawmill located in Leidschendam, Netherlands.

Hidden Gems in Riga, Latvia.

Our Project Manager, Marcus has a slightly different 5km radius as he works from home in Latvia. He captured the Freedom Monument in Riga.

The monument was built to honour the soldiers killed during the Latvian War of Independence (1918–1920). It is considered an important symbol of the freedom, independence, and sovereignty of Latvia. Unveiled in 1935, the 42-metre high monument of granite, travertine, and copper often serves as the focal point of public gatherings and official ceremonies in Riga.

The Freedom Monument in Riga, Latvia honouring soldiers killed during the Latvian War of Independence.
The Freedom Monument in Riga, Latvia honouring soldiers killed during the Latvian War of Independence.

Hidden Gems in The Dublin Mountains.

Our Managing Director, Nick, enjoyed exploring his 5km radius with his family, hiking to the top of the Tibradden mountain. The mountain is made up of granite and glacial boulders which build it to a staggering 407m in height with views of Dublin to the north, Two Rock peak to the east and the Wicklow Mountains to the south and west. The cairn dates back to at least the Bronze age and maybe even earlier.

Tibradden Mountain in County Dublin, Ireland.
Tibradden Mountain in County Dublin, Ireland.

Hidden Gems in Warsaw, Poland.

Our Revit Modeller, Pawel, also boasts an international 5km radius whilst working from home in Poland. He captured this impressive image of the Prudential Building in Warsaw, currently operating as hotel Warszawa.

It was built in 1933 for the Prudential Insurance company. It was the first skyscraper in Poland and the sixth tallest building in Europe at the time of construction (66m). The building was heavily damaged during the war. The strong steel structure protected the building from collapse.

The Prudential Building in Warsaw, currently operating as Hotel Warszawa in Poland.
The Prudential Building in Warsaw, currently operating as Hotel Warszawa in Poland.

Hidden Gems in Castleknock & Clontarf, Dublin.

Our Surveyor & Photographer, Richard whipped out the drone to snap aerial shots of Glenmaroon House and Knockmaroon Lodge. The two adjoining houses are situated between the Phoenix Park and the Liffey.


Glenmaroon House was constructed on the edge of Phoenix Park by the Honourable (Arthur) Ernest Guinness in circa 1905 and extended in 1911, as an addition to the original house, previously known as Knockmaroon Lodge located on the south side of Knockmaroon Hill.

Both houses were connected via a covered footbridge which has since been replaced by a more modern structure and over time both the North and South houses were renamed, collectively, as Glenmaroon, or Glenmaroon House.

Glenmaroon House and Knockmaroon Lodge captured by drone in Chapelizod.
Glenmaroon House and Knockmaroon Lodge captured by drone in Chapelizod.

Richard also captured this eye-catching sculpture by Tommy Craggs called the St Annes Tree of Life. The sculptor used the remains of a dying tree using only a chainsaw to create this masterpiece in St Annes Park from 2015-2018.

The St Annes Tree of Life designed by sculpture by Tommy Craggs in St Annes Park, County Dublin.
The St Annes Tree of Life designed by sculpture by Tommy Craggs in St Annes Park, County Dublin.

Hidden Gems in Dublin 7 & 3.

Our Marketing Executive, Sally, explored the Phoenix Park to discover the Wellington Monument. The towering monument is a granite obelisk standing in one of Europe’s largest designed urban spaces. It was built by Sir Robert Smirke to commemorate Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington and to acknowledge his military victories.

The Wellington Monument in Phoenix Park commemorating Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington.
The Wellington Monument in Phoenix Park commemorating Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington.

Sally also captured the stunning Kings Inn, which was established in 1541. It is Ireland’s Oldest School of Law showcasing the Georgian architectural heritage present in Ireland to date. The renowned Library building was designed by Frederick Darley in 1832 and pays homage to revival architecture.

The Kings Inns operating as Ireland’s Oldest School of Law, situated on Henrietta street, Dublin.
The Kings Inns operating as Ireland’s Oldest School of Law, situated on Henrietta street, Dublin.

Before taking a brave and very brisk dip in Dublin Bay, Sally captured Poolbeg Chimneys from The Wooden Bridge.

The distinctive red and white chimneys, built in 1969 and 1977 and standing at over 207 metres, are part of Poolbeg’s operational power station. They have polarised public opinion and been proposed for demolition many times, but they have become a city landmark and remained.

Poolbeg Chimneys in Poolbeg, County Dublin working as part of Poolbeg’s operational power station.
Poolbeg Chimneys in Poolbeg, County Dublin working as part of Poolbeg’s operational power station.

Hidden Gems in Dublin’s Docklands.

Sinead, our Bid Manager captured a close-up shot of the Poolbeg Lighthouse located at the mouth of the River Liffey. It remains a working light house today, despite undergoing a dramatic transformation in 1820 since its erection in 1786. It sits on the Great South Wall which was once the longest sea wall in the world and still remains one of the largest in Europe today.

The Poolbeg Lighthouse located at the mouth of the River Liffey sitting on the Great South Wall, County Dublin.
The Poolbeg Lighthouse located at the mouth of the River Liffey sitting on the Great South Wall, County Dublin.

Sinead also snapped this dramatic image of The Central Bank of Ireland Dublin’s Docklands on the River Liffey. Recently built in 2017, the property covers 27,000m² and was designed by Henry J Lions to reflect the maritime setting in which it stands. The building boasts many practical features including a public exhibition space, library and learning centre.

The Central Bank of Ireland designed by Henry J Lions on Dublin’s Docklands near the River Liffey.
The Central Bank of Ireland designed by Henry J Lions on Dublin’s Docklands near the River Liffey.

Sinead put her photography skills to use with this colourful image of The Convention Centre in Dublin’s docklands. It is one of the many iconic landmarks in Dublin and was built with the purpose of providing a world-class conference venue in the heart of the city. Since opening in 2010, the centre has hosted over 1900 events and conferences.

The Convention Centre Dublin in Dublin’s docklands overlooking the River Liffey at Spencer Dock.
The Convention Centre Dublin in Dublin’s docklands overlooking the River Liffey at Spencer Dock.

Hidden Gems in Dublin 4.

Our Marketing Manager, Kevin, snapped some photos of St. Mary’s Church which is in his 5km radius. This church dates to 1827 and closed its doors for good in November 2020 due to low attendance and structural problems of the church itself. There is also a war memorial on site for the men of Donnybrook who lost their lives in the first world war.

St Mary’s Church in Donnybrook, County Dublin featuring a war memorial dedicated to those fallen in WWI.
St Mary’s Church in Donnybrook, County Dublin featuring a war memorial dedicated to those fallen in WWI.

Kevin also captured these shots of the unassuming birthplace of famous Irish Poet and writer, W.B Yeates, in Sandymount. He was arguably one of the most influential poets of the 20th century in English writing and often wrote about the contrasts of art and life, as well as writing many plays. His work earned him a Nobel Prize for Literature for his dramatic works.

The birthplace of famous Irish Poet and writer, W.B Yeates, in Sandymount, County Dublin.
The birthplace of famous Irish Poet and writer, W.B Yeates, in Sandymount, County Dublin.

Hidden Gems at North Dublin‘s Coast.

Our Post Production Artist, Danny took to Naul in North County Dublin to find the hidden gem that is The Seamus Ennis Arts Centre. It is named after Seamus Ennis, a traditional Irish Musician who collected folk music across the British Isle. The two cottages were bought and refurbished by Fingal County Council to create the centre. It is designed to honour his legacy and provide a space to exhibit music and arts performances.

The Seamus Ennis Arts Centre located in the Village of Naul, named a traditional Irish Musician.
The Seamus Ennis Arts Centre located in the Village of Naul, named a traditional Irish Musician.

Danny also explored the Red Island in Skerries to find the Martello Tower. One of two remaining Martello Towers, this tower on Red Island was part of a chain of 50 towers built in the early 1800s by the British to defend against a Napoleonic invasion. The design worked so well that these towers were erected across the commonwealth. As it was no longer needed as a defensive mechanism, this tower on Red Island was used as a ballroom during the 1920s as well as amusements in the 1940s.

The Martello Tower situated on Red Island in Skerries, one of only two remaining Martello Towers.
The Martello Tower situated on Red Island in Skerries, one of only two remaining Martello Towers.

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