Casino at Marino in Dublin

  The Casino at Marino in Dublin © Tim Scheuer  

The Inhabited Monument. Public Magnificence and Private Restraint at Sir William Chambers’ Casino at Marino in Dublin.


Referencing antique architecture saw a fundamental turn in the eighteenth century. Architects became less interested in traditional Vitruvian categories, for they were fascinated by the bodily, spatial and emotional experience of the remains of antiquity in Italy, Greece, Egypt and the Levantine. Lord Charlemont’s Casino at Marino (from 1757) is an early example for the architectural emulation of what architects and landlords had experienced on their Grand Tour.

The design of the Casino is an architectural collage of memories of Charlemont’s travels: beside conventional formal references to antique sculpture and architecture, established architectural tropes were utilised for embodying Charlemont’s personal experiences in the Casino. For instance, the view from its saloon reframes the vista of Dublin Bay as the classical landscape Campania Felix outside of Naples. Such cultural transfers document the self-fashioning of a young lord, who grew to be a celebrated patron to the arts, sciences and independence of his homeland.

In this way, the exterior of the Casino becomes a civic ornament to the city of Dublin. By the middle of the eighteenth-century writers and architects called for a new public magnificence in the cities of Western Europe. Crucial to their aim were freestanding public buildings. Such longing for public magnificence is equally present in William Chambers drawings and early-career designs, which he drafted surrounded by likeminded French pensionnaires at Rome. Their designs aimed to emulate those emotional and sensual impressions that Rome’s antique buildings had cast upon them. New public buildings in London, Paris or Dublin were thus meant to act similarly upon the mind of their beholders communicating the newly achieved virtues and progress of such modern nations. Considering these contemporaneous developments in architecture, the Casino not only emerges as a personal essay of a widely travelled aristocrat, it furthermore transports the enlightened longing for public magnificence. Eventually, this attempt becomes evident in referencing the archetype of public monumentality itself – the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.

This monographic thesis not only discusses the genesis of the Casino. It furthermore utilises the methodology of building archaeology revealing at the Casino theoretical, cultural, social and practical aspects symptomatic for the mid-eighteenth century. The dissertation will be submitted in March 2021.



Dr.-Ing. Felix Martin