Dublin's Diving Bell Perforated Metal Design

Dublin Docklands

The Diving Bell Dublin Docks Perforated Metal Project

Graepels Irish Division manufactured these 32 Perforated Sheets, which were folded into panels and backlit for Dublins Docklands refurbished Diving bell.

The Perforation Project

The Diving Bell refurbishment project was imperative, it pays tribute to Dublin’s Maritime heritage. The Diving Bell is an ingenious feat of Irish engineering that was essential in building Dublins quay walls over the 87 years.

The Perforated 316 stainless steel panels were shot-peened each of the 32 panels had allowances for returns along both verticals to facilitate the fixing of the panels.


The original design concept incorporate images of Bindon Blood Stoney the port engineer and designed of the Diving Bell, along with historic images of the port, Perforated into sheet Metal, a process known as Picture Perf. The perforated images were to surround the base of the Diving Bell, the concept later developed into a perforated text the ‘Diving Bell‘. The perforations are backlit and come to life at night. The panels were manufactured in 316 Stainless Steel, with two perforation sizes.


The 32 Perforated Panels which spell out ‘Diving Bell‘ are located between the road and overlooking the River Liffey. Graepels design team worked closely with the Architects and subcontractor to achieve the desired finish, providing visual mock ups for each of the letters. The panels were levelled and folded for ease of installation on site. The lighting was installed prior to the perforated panels.


Each of the 32 panels were fabricated to the varying dimensions which were required to fit precisely onto the sub-frame behind the letters. The panels were levelled and folded with 30mm returns. The panels were shot-peened to which resulted in a slightly textured surface with a matter finish. The perforations had a large pitch giving the panels added rigidity and strength.


With all of our bespoke projects, Graepels pay close attention to detail. The font used was specifically matched to the perforations to give the letters clarity and legibility. The perforation size also needed to be taken into account to ensure that the perforated sheets were not ‘finger traps’. The perforations were at 60 degree staggered pitch which offers the highest strength to open area ratio.

Finished Display

The Perforated Panels are legible during the day due to the dark background. At night they come to life as the coloured LEDs light up the letters, giving a dramatic effect reflecting against the River Liffey. The lettering was developed with the Artist, the stroke and spacing of the letter is every bit intentional to provide distinctive lettering which now form part of the character of the re-interpreted bell.


The Perforated Panels are not vast but have a dominant presence at Sir Rogerson’s Quay. The old orange metal bell stood forgotten, its refurbishment is now a small attraction celebrating its history, giving and insight into life in this part of town its name proudly Perforated into 477.1m2 stainless steel. Graepels are delighted to have worked on such an important piece of maritime heritage.

Concept Development

The original design concept for the Diving Bell was a ‘Picture Perf’ wall around the base of the Diving Bell which was to be elevated off the ground. The images of Bindon Blood Stoney were to be punched into sheet metal, a process known as Picture Perf.

The first step was to find an image that we could work with and manipulate. From here computer generated images were mocked up giving a visual representation of the propsed design.

The concept later developed into a more simplistic design, with the name ‘Diving Bell‘ Perforated into sheet metal and backlit with coloured LED’s giving a dramatic effect to the old bell.

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