During a massive housing crisis, Dublin Corporation Housing Architect Herbert Simms designed and oversaw the building of 17,000 new homes in Dublin City from 1932 to 1948.
In this period of very limited resources, especially during the war, not only did he construct this huge quantity of public housing, but in doing so he also created beautifully designed buildings that are still in their original use today.
Believing everyone deserved good design, his work includes simple features that while not functional, enhance the overall look of the buildings. These ranged from curvy concrete caps on entrance posts, through ‘go faster’ brick stripes across the buildings, to beautiful iron work on gates. He also found time to design the bathing shelters on Bull Island and wind shelters along the Clontarf Promenade.
His design influence came from different sources including the ‘Amsterdam School’ architecture of the early 1900s, and from study trips to London, Liverpool and Manchester to see the latest trends in the construction of city dwellings.
Overworked and under-appreciated, Simms took his own life at the age of 50 on September 27th 1948 leaving a note: “I cannot stand it any longer, my brain is too tired to work any more. It has not had a rest for 20 years except when I am in heavy sleep. It is always on the go like a dynamo and still the work is being piled on to me.”
This short film observes some of Simms designs, while we hear Nell Regan’s poem inspired by him, and Irene Buckley’s original musical composition.
Film by Paddy Cahill
'Owning The Sky or The Flats that Simms Built' by Nell Regan was commissioned by Simms120
Original Music Composition by Irene Buckley