Size does matter, but so does context and quality. So concluded panelists at last night’s Open Debate, organised by the Irish Architecture Foundation. The debate, sponsored by The Irish Times, was themed “Does Size Matter?”. It marked the start of the Irish Architecture Foundation’s fourth annual Open House Dublin weekend where more than 100 public and private buildings will open their doors to the public. Chaired by broadcaster and historian John Bowman, the event attracted a large crowd to the new Aviva Stadium at Lansdowne Road.
Speaking at the event, architect Alan Mee said architects were faced with the challenge of “working on projects of all scales simultaneously, from a desk to a town”. He called for the education of architecture students to reflect this challenge. Irish Times environment editor Frank McDonald talked about “the incredible explosion of Dublin in the past 20 years”. Describing a commuter belt that extends 100km, he said “there are now bits of Dublin in Portlaoise, Longford and Cavan”.
McDonald said “the strategic planning guidelines for Dublin in 1999 were about consolidating the city but that’s not what happened”. He said that “the argument for making the city more compact was later seized on quite cynically by developers to create high rise”. Panelist Pauline Byrne, strategic planning manager with Treasury Holdings, called for education in the area of civic pride to be increased: “The private realm dominates in this country, civic spaces and things in the public realm are seen as leftover.