The Masonry – flexible workspace blooms in the former seed and grain warehouse

There is a curious building on Thomas Street in the Liberties called ‘The Masonry’, which is shrouded in mystery and without any obvious signage as to what lies inside. 

The front exterior of The Masonry. Photograph: Ruben McCarthy

The richly coloured Edwardian façade could fit quite nicely into one of Wes Anderson’s dreamlike sets and its history stretches back to the 18th century. 

This building was once the headquarters of the IAWS (Irish Agricultural Wholesale Society) and was mainly used to store seed and grain. 

Image of inner courtyard while still operating as a seed and grain warehouse. Photograph: Ruben McCarthy

In 2019, it was completely redeveloped by Iconic Offices, who provide tailored and flexible workspaces for individuals and companies. 

“When we were looking at redesigning the space, obviously we wanted to protect and work with what was there. So, we were sensitive enough at refurbishing the existing Edwardian spaces”, said Eoin Joy, Chief Property Officer at Iconic Offices. 

“We did some light works to the façade but really the façade was one of the areas that planning wanted us to do less on. So, all we could do was a little bit of paint and some light repairs to windows. 

“When it came to looking at the rear refurbishment, we looked at the locality and what it is influenced by”, added Joy. 

With the increase in people hot-desking and remote working since the start of the pandemic, professionally catered flexible offices have surged in popularity. 

Redeveloped – what the inner courtyard looks like today. Photograph: Ruben McCarthy

So what is hot-desking? 

Hot-desking is a model used in office spaces, where there are more desks than they are employees. These desks are shared and often companies use a system where people either book a desk in advance or just find a free desk each day they arrive into work. 

It was first introduced into the workplace in the late 1990s and has now become much more commonplace. 

The logic behind companies choosing this option is that often a lot of desks are not being used each day due to staff absences, part-timers or frequent meetings. Alternatively, they can buy fewer desks and invest in a smaller office where people share the space instead. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has also created a re-imaging of how the office flow can efficiently operate, with most being forced to leave their traditional offices and work from home.  

Iconic Offices adapted to the Covid-19 pandemic by using separation screens. Photograph: Ruben McCarthy

With the relaxation of restrictions, people are allowed to fully return to their offices but some are now choosing a more hybrid approach instead– to still work a few days a week from home. 

Iconic Offices provides a tailored office space for small companies, which can be an ideal option for start-up businesses who don’t want the financial risk of investing too much money into their own fixed office space and instead can grow their brand while getting all the exclusive features. 

It is also caters for individuals who are self-employed or their job is remote or freelance. 

Who are Iconic Offices? 

Iconic Offices currently have 16 locations across Dublin and they offer three co-working memberships – floating, dedicated and studio. 

Starting from €169 per month, floating is their hot-desk option and individuals have 24/7 access to their chosen building. 

Creating a community is another one of their selling points, organising social events and fostering collaborations between like-minded individuals. 

The communal kitchen in The Masonry. Photograph: Ruben McCarthy

According to flexible working consultancy Timewise, the number of job adverts offering flexible working has almost doubled to 26% since the beginning of the pandemic.  

The past two years have given people time to re-evaluate how they want work to fit around their lives, with hybrid models and hot-desking paving the way for an office revolution. 

Ireland’s National Remote Work Strategy – ‘Making Remote Work’, was published in January of last year and the objectives included assisting people who wanted the opportunity to choose between remote, hybrid and hub options.  

The Masonry’s Design 

This has been Iconic Office’s largest project to date, with the building spanning over 70,000 sq. ft across 6 floors.  

“Obviously we had to be commercial about it as it needs to function as a comfortable space but one of the big things was making sure that we didn’t destroy a lot of the architectural heritage that the building has,” said Joy. 

Interior design of The Masonry. Photograph: Ruben McCarthy

Avoiding having any obvious signage on the exterior of the building was a purposeful choice in the creative design. 

“When our members come into one of our buildings, we want them to feel like it is their space. We don’t have a big Iconic Offices sign outside, so if you were bringing in visitors, they should feel like they are coming into your space and not an Iconic space”, said Joy. 

To learn more about the people and businesses who use Iconic Office workspaces, click here: 

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