Forum Replies Created
What a great thread this was – a grand twenty minutes whiled away.
It’s a shame that the distinctive, symmetrically-planned rear of the 1927 Carnegie centre – seemingly with a first floor veranda for taking the air – was demolished for the Caste Gate apartments.
It’s frightening, isn’t it Paul? Really frightening. These people are running the city. These guys are actually IN CHARGE of redesigning our public realm!
This is, simply, the worst possible outcome one could possibly imagine, to the degree one wonders if it’s an early April Fools joke.
Kitschy, postmodern adornments contrived for a playground hanging off some ghost estate in Sallins – on Grafton Street.
To use the aul phrase, you couldn’t make it up.
Well done Joyceans? Did you read the decision?
It has nothing to do with value judgements on the significance of the existing building, and everything to do with the mediocrity of the proposed building.
Hilarious how some architects can shift the deck chairs when it suits them.
For once, DCC and ABP have united against a development that just didn’t step up to the civic design standards demanded for Dublin’s quays.
You’re off again rumple. You’re probably the planner from the 1990s who famously declared in response to claims of poor design standards in Dublin 1, that anyone who was willing to invest in Gardiner Street should be “let at it”. No doubt you now feel this area is a “dump” and “anything is better than nothing” to improve it.
Please stop this mantra – honestly, it’s quite disturbing.
And for the record, Eden Quay is one of the more attractive quays in the city. Don’t allow social problems colour your opinion. A new expanse of new tarmac and a clatter of poles is certainly not going to fix that.
And this happening in the context of a THIRD historic street surfaces study shortly due for release!
So the reports continue on their merry way while the rest of us can go back to sleep………….zzzzzzzzz……..
Oh dear, what a mess Peter. What strikes me about the Lighting Department in DCC, is that unlike other divisions in there that at least attempt a professional veneer, Lighting really seems to have no pride whatsoever in what it does – either with contemporary or historic stock. It appears there’s barely a person in there that is interested in what they do, or the important role they play in shaping our streetscapes. It’s a real shame. Quite sad, and far removed from most people’s perception of a Pat Liddy-esque, chest swelling public guardian of the realm. A few more cases of the above though, and people will begin to get the message.
As mentioned before, the fact that wartime lamps are head-and-shoulders above what we’re now getting dished out in the 21st century, speaks volumes of how standards have plummeted…
Oh Christ, I passed this last night and nearly threw up. Who the heck granted permission for these heroic pylons with illuminated pink flying saucers?!! If one ever wondered what happens when you cross Ponte Alexandre III with the set of Saturday with Bibi c. 1987, sadly we now know the answer.
This is unbelievable stuff. What sophisticated city anywhere accepts muck like this, never mind in the middle of the strategic vista towards the Custom House? It’s classic rubbish beloved of unconfident, provincial cities that dress their streetscapes with disposable consumer tat to try appear relevant and modern. I utterly despair of the planning processes and authorities in Dublin. It’s a ship of fools running the show and nobody’s shouting stop.
By contrast, the bridge itself is remarkably slender and quite elegant as an engineering feat. Alas, the emerging surrounding public realm is only the latter, quelle surprise.
Yes, many of these buildings are essential to the character of the environs of the markets and can be economically regenerated, forming an important part of the brand of the district. Indeed, the defiant notion that everything should be cleared, when virtually everything has already been cleared, is typical of the perverse thinking that goes on in this city.
@thebig C wrote:
this whole North West corner of the City is so appalling from every aspect that literally anything could potentially be an improvement.
Well no, actually. That’s how we’ve ended up with so much mediocre, incongruous development in Dublin over the past two decades.
Still, DCC clearly aren’t too far out of step as ABP and An Taisce would rather bury their heads in the sand and protect non-existent fabric and protect vistas (of what exactly) to further rob the general area of investment.
What is this assertion based on? Any representation it makes is based on urban design principles and upholding provisions of the Dublin City Development Plan.
Trevor White was spot on about the lack of ’empathy’ for Dublin in his Irish Times article yesterday. The disturbingly pervasive ‘anything is better than nothing’ mindset in Dublin, amongst both Dubliners and non-Dubliners, is unquestionably more corrosive than any perceived – and typically inaccurate – ‘anti-development’, sentiment. In fact, it’s one of the greatest insults you can hurl at your city.
Sadly, the predictability of a major multinational chain seems to be what the market wants at this location…
So now we have two Starbucks on O’Connell Street, two on Westmoreland Street and one (thus far) on College Green – all within three minutes’ walk of each other.
Yes there is little question that the poor quality and incoherence of the public realm along here is a contributing factor to the mixumgatherum uses and presentation that have proliferated along this stretch for years. Why invest in your premises when the council upholds similar, if not worse, standards that your own?
The reinstatement of the Wide Streets Commission shopfront here is a ground-breaking development. In proportion, detailing, materiality and relationship with the upper floors it is nothing short of exemplary. The Wicklow granite is eye-wateringly good and the masonry construction is robust and substantial. It, along with the major works carried out to the upper facade, deserve some in-depth focus when it’s all completed. I believe the arch-headed Georgian grid windows will be arriving very shortly.
I wonder at the wisdom of this however. Normally I would welcome this return to quality…such an antidote from the assorted plastic crap that goes for modern shopfronts.
However, this feels a little strange. The proportions are odd when one stands in front of the finished product. The entrance is quite narrow and I wait to see whether fenestration and doors make its look pokey.
I wouldn’t be concerned about the shopfront’s relative incongruity in its current state. The critical intersection between it and the first floor has yet to be finished, making it look somewhat isolated – a sense heightened by the equally unfinished channelled pier to the laneway corner. Both of these will seamlessly integrate the new frontage with the wider building when finished.
I also think we firmly must get away from the perceived necessity of expansive glazed frontages on all of our streets. It is becoming akin to the scourge of attention-deficiency in the social media world, where every ground floor must be visibly, brazenly ‘active’. The most pleasant streets in any city are those that exhibit a mixture of predominantly active, moderately active, and a small percentage of inactive frontages. There is a multitude of service uses, including a plethora further down Bachelors Walk, that are much more suited to moderately active frontages such as this than exposing all of their goings-on to the street.
But I agree that a high grade café or food use (including food products) that plays on the premium that a heritage frontage implies (or should do, and doesn’t in Dublin’s case) is suited to this unit. Indeed, this is now the thinking of the owner, but I believe an arrangement had already been entered into with the proposed yoghurt people. Still, it’s a quirky use that facilitates public access and relies heavily on internal aesthetics – if they get it right.
It absolutely baffles me why a decent operator won’t take that other corner unit by the horns and turn it into a high turnover premium beverage and confectionary shop. The new Peacock Green on Lord Edward Street, another postage stamp outlet, plays on a tried and tested Victorian marketing ploy – stuffing your windows to the gills with eye-watering confections. They can barely manage the crowds in there.
Gah! Why must we brutalise our streets? Have urban design principles now plummeted to the extent that even the miserable 1940s produced infinitely better street furniture than we’re capable of seven decades on?
Fully agreed that Kenilworth Road has a distinctive grandeur thanks to these stylish concrete posts. RIP on Google Street View : (
Ah brilliant Paul. I’d completely forgotton that’s where my teenage bedroom desk came from!
There it is the foreground!
Fabulous quality construction, with an elegant metal frame, black melamine panels, deep wood-effect drawers with brushed metal leaf handles, and a brilliantly chunky timber-effect surface. Delighted to see it in its original Mad Men context.
Sadly, the handsome concrete planters ended their life through freeze-thaw in the back garden. What a way to go.
August 22, 2013 at 10:55 pm in reply to: college green/ o’connell street plaza and pedestrians #746693
Yes I had a wander in today – agreed Fergal that it’s a fine space. The convolution derives from the stairs being located at the back of the plan, but more specifically from the change in levels between the front and rear portions of the building as described above, and from the requirement for fire lobbies, which, in the scheme of things, are pretty sexy fire lobbies.
The distinction between the front and rear parts is really quite stark: modest, late Georgian domesticity to the back – airy, commercial, high Victoriana to the front. The fragments of original staircase feature somwhat awkward, transitional-style balusters typical of 1835-45. But unusually dinky and quite charming. The same can be said of a rear room that has yet to open to the public – it currently has riotous wallpaper and quaint, homely proportions.
There are exposed red brick walls in many areas of the front part, with the usual battered lines of bonding timbers. These almost certainly date to the 1830s and not the 1880s, adding credence to the notion that the carcass of the late Georgian predecessor remains. Personally, I’m finding the growing trend of stripping back historic buildings to a state of undress for trendy restaurants and cafés a little lazy and disrespectful to the character of the structures. This I think is especially true here. The fabulous first floor space is an important public room hosted within a well presented effeminate facade, while looking out on vistas of dressy commercial and public architecture. The aesthetic jarrs.
Fabulous views down Dame Street though, and yes, the George’s Street view is a surprising vista in its axiality. Not what you’d expect from outside.
August 20, 2013 at 12:56 am in reply to: college green/ o’connell street plaza and pedestrians #746691
But there’s more than just an apparent layer of render concealing an earlier facade here. There’s the possibility of an entire structure cloaking an earlier building, as evidenced by this 1830s projection on Temple Lane, literally ‘left over’ from the original 1880s makeover.
It still retains a modest late Georgian facade of yellow brick and 1830s sash windows. Have a look from the air on Google maps and at the architect’s submitted elevation drawing, and things become much clearer.
While we cannot definitely say without closer inspection, it would appear that the carcass of the late Georgian predecessor on the site remains embedded within the current building – most probably at the upper floor levels given the interventions made at ground floor level, where machine-made yellow brick is apparent behind the shopfront and various cast-iron interventions in the shop itself.
KC Peaches have done a fine job of updating the previous dingy mortgage shop frontage, economically filling and painting the previous stone or composite stone panelling. Elegant new steel lettering has been erected, though the old strip lighting could be better.
A curious egg-and-dart cornice above the chamfered entrance at ground floor level.
A fine makeover and a fine use for this prominent historic building. We desperately need more of this in Dublin city centre, particularly with retailing and public service use at first floor level. Sadly, the fact that a bog standard paint job and reticent signage stands out like high design says it all about how far presentation standards have plummeted over the past decade.
August 20, 2013 at 12:52 am in reply to: college green/ o’connell street plaza and pedestrians #746689
We have a new development on Dame Street.
The previously virtually invisible No. 54 Dame Street on the corner with Temple Lane has been reinvented as a KC Peaches wholefoods café. Its facelift, from dirty white to a smart variation of teal, has demonstrated in stark terms the value of judicious use of colour on exterior facades. This famously lacklustre vista closure, terminating the view from South Great George’s Street has been rendered, well, that bit less lacklustre.
What is so remarkable about this simple repainting is how it has markedly pronounced the step of the building line along this stretch of Dame Street, even viewed as far away as College Green. Quite literally, a new streetscape has emerged.
It must have spectacular views from the upper floors (the first of which also has public access) down Dame Street towards the West Front of Trinity.
Now, there’s no getting away from the fact that No. 54 is never going to win architectural awards, not least for its ridiculously clunky handling of such a critical corner site in the city, but the repainting has at least injected it with a certain provincial charm which heretofore manifested itself as hamfisted pretension, with its bizarre array of underscaled gables projecting skyward like a cluster of submarine telescopes.
It is no match for the cool restraint next door of what is arguably the best block by the Wide Streets Commission surviving in Dublin today.
And what on earth they were at coming up with this yoke is anyone’s guess.
No. 54 is almost certainly the work of Millar & Symes, a breathtakingly prolific architectural practice of late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Dublin, operating on a retainer basis for Bank of Ireland for their national branch network. Most of their other work was considerably more accomplished than this example, which dates to c.1881 and was erected for a long established merchant tailors. According to the excellent conservation report and method statement submitted with the recent planning application, The Irish Times reported a new premises of ‘red brick with sandstone dressings’ being worked on in that year, somewhat at odds with the current building. But this explains everything.
Zooming in on the building, it became quite apparent that something curious is going on at No. 54. The stucco detailing is strangely chunky and unrefined, with cumbersome resolution and a slightly stippled, modern finish at the uppermost levels. The pediments are oddly resolved and the guttering and downpipe arrangements don’t quite add up for what is supposedly a new-build structure. There also seems to be at least one missing urn at parapet level.
It appears that the sandstone dressings – Millar & Symes used notoriously corrosive Mountcharles sandstone on some of their other buildings – began to decay at a rapid rate, and were thus rendered over some time in the twentieth-century. Indeed, it’s entirely possible that’s what we’re looking at here in this photograph from the late 1960s.
The rainwater channelling is clever nonetheless.
The more one considers this terrace, the bigger a joke it gets. The very image of the city is being persistently undermined here, in spite of the signage not having planning permission, in spite of being officially designated for removal under a statutory Area of Special Planning Control and an Architectural Conservation Area, and in spite of negatively impacting on the character of Protected Structures. It is such an unholy mess, one would be forgiven for thinking it a Photoshop job.
And yet another Photoshop job tells a thousand words in terms of the impact of reinstating the original end pavilion (lead downpipe optional).
The wider view from O’Connell Bridge. What a transformative effect.
Immediately, a coherent Georgian context and legibility is restored to the setting of the bridge. All that is required is a comprehensive reshaping of the public realm (planned for Luas BXD) to radically alter our perceptions of this critical space in the city
Taking in the adjacent pair of houses – and acknowledging that none of this is without technical challenges – the very image of O’Connell Street, the Liffey quays and the ceremonial spine of the city is reshaped.
Of course we’d ditch the Victorian plate windows, and a handful more chimneys wouldn’t go amiss. But this is achievable if the will and, fundamentally, an undertanding of the built form of Dublin was there to do it. Alas, this stuff just isn’t trendy enough, is it?
It should be noted – as evidenced in gunter’s image above – that the terrace wasn’t entirely unified. In typically pragmatic, eighteenth century Dublin form, only the five bays closest to the O’Connell Street corner were composed into a single ‘pavilion’ unit, matching that of the other five-bay building on the opposing Eden Quay corner. The remaining two buildings on Bachelors Walk were an afterthought, neither matching the neighbouring pavilion by way of roof detail, fenestration or even window size in the case of the first and second floors. The equivalent ‘tack-on’ buildings on Eden Quay were more successful in this respect, apparently being built by the one builder with a single shallow pitch roofline – thus the pavilion and its neighbours almost read as one. They’re pictured below with various Victorian signage accretions, hence the darker appearance, but you get the idea.
We probably don’t need to rehearse the usual points about the matching tripartite windows with bracketed cornices on the pavilions facing O’Connell Street, but a little noted feature was the rather limp cornice that adorned the top of the central window of the first floor facades fronting the river. This is an original – if bizarre – WSC feature as it originally featured on both pavilions, including, to more successful effect, on the O’Connell Street elevation at second floor level. Granite quoins also adorned the corners of the blocks – indeed all street corners up O’Connell Street – hence the oddly stranded quoins in the middle of the Bachelors Walk terrace which still survive today.
The fact that the five-bay pavilions were incredibly shallow buildings, being only one room deep, and that they were only five bays wide and not nine or ten to present fully formal compositions to the river, is an indication of the reluctance of the WSC to interfere in private property where they weren’t expressly required. Aside from setting the building line of the quay, they reserved their strict architectural guidance only for the approximate depth of the buildings on O’Connell Street – namely five bays.
As to the shopfronts here, it would appear that the five-bay pavilions did not conform to the semicircle – semi-ellipse – semicircle – semi-ellipse format of the shopfronts on O’Connell Street, as depicted below from a working drawing of the WSC dated 1789.
Every image we have, including Shaw’s Pictorial Directory of 1850 (if a bit stunted in that instance), shows five uniform arches on the Bachelors Walk pavilion – the O’Connell Street elevation obviously having been altered by this point. (Also note the window cornice at first floor level)
It appears elliptical arches only were deployed on the pavilion section. It’s possible this is a nineteenth century makeover, not unlike The Cornerstone on Wexford Street, but it seems to be original as the thin detailing looks correct.
Famously, this corner got a hammering in 1916, hence the application of render over the pockmarked brickwork. This is the greatest challenge facing the removal of the render today, also not disregarding the handsome dentilated cornice of the same vintage. It’s still well worth doing though.
Couldn’t agree more. I’ve long held that this terrace is completely pivotal on both a local streetscape and a macro city level. Not only is it critical to the scenography of the O’Connell Bridge district and the entrance to O’Connell Street, but by virtue of its prominent location at the ‘crossroads of the nation’, it also has an immense role to play in providing a coherent statement about the very character and identity of the city itself.
The O’Connell Bridge nexus is a problematic space. The bridge and the surrounding quay roads are too broad and too exploded to simply be host to acres of tarmac – they are windswept and lacking in enclosure. The vistas both east and west are disappointing, and there is an overwhelming sense of visual chaos and an absence of design coordination in the buildings and the public realm. The enclosure of the surrounding buildings is generally acceptable, but the architectural disunity here, for such a critical place in the city, has always lent an unfortunate impression of lack of civic pride and general discordance. Upon arrival in the heart of Dublin, you have to ask yourself – is this it? Where’s the evidence of the Enlightenment principles that originally brought this landscape into being? How does the urban landscape here represent us? To be honest, it might as well be a third rate UK city or some dull Canadian provincial capital.
Nonetheless, the hodgepodge of buildings surrounding the formal composition of O’Connell Bridge can also be validly perceived as a built manifestation of the city’s history and architectural evolution, whether it be the 1960s O’Connell Bridge House, the 1920 Irish Nationwide corner or O’Callaghan’s Chance at the apex of Westmoreland Street and D’Olier Street. What is a shame however is the gaping absence of any building or terrace that represents the eighteenth-century heritage of the city – namely, the iconic brick façade with gridded sash windows. The reproduction Ballast Office makes a grim attempt, but otherwise there is nothing to give an indication that Dublin is essentially a Georgian city – a grievous shame for such a critical location. Ironically, the reproduction Zoe blocks on Bachelor’s Walk are one of the most important group of buildings in the city in this respect. Like or loathe their detailing, they are a critical player to providing clarity and coherence to Dublin’s identity.
And yet at O’Connell Bridge we actually have an original Wide Streets Commission terrace – the genuine article, the real deal – sitting there, hidden from view, languishing beneath a blanket of accretions. To get this terrace back to its original form, even if it means having to replace entire swathes of delaminated brick, should be as high an aspiration as transforming College Green back to a civic space. I rank it that highly in its importance to Dublin.
There are keynote buildings, streetscapes and spaces in all cities that establish a baseline character and identity, and this terrace is Dublin’s benchmark. Every conceivable effort should be made to get it right.
Yes I saw this plan go through a while back. I suppose a restaurant is a restaurant – the ASPC doesn’t specifiy all-you-can-eat buffet carts… But signage is specified, and that signage is shocking. How is this stuff still getting through?! The sad thing is that in spite of the rampant proliferation of Chinese eateries in the city, and all the new focus by business groups and enterpise sections in DCC wooing the Chinese business community, bizarrely there’s barely a decent Chinese restaurant amongst them. Where on earth would you even bring a Chinese person for an authentic meal in a decent environment in Dublin? You find better family-run Chinese restaurants in the average provincial town than in Dublin.
The two major planning cases for Bachelors Walk are show-stopping, flagship proposals that have the potential to change the very image of Dublin city centre on an international level. How there was no public comment on these as they were going through utterly defies me. The lethargy in Dublin at the minute is of some concern. Still, even though there should be a masterplan for this strategically important terrace, there were glimmers of joined-up thinking here with the planner referencing the simultaneous applications and the need to reference each other.
The clanger in the works for the Nokia signage application was the revelation that this sign, including in its original Baileys form, has had no planning permission since 2000, when its temporary permission expired from a grant in 1997. Yet the planning authority, with every planning tool conceivable in its armoury, did absolutely nothing to rid this terrace of the unauthorised junk tacked about protected facades of one of the most prominent locations in the country – and this in spite of their own multiple planning objectives to do so. So not only have we had to put up with this eyesore, the owner has creamed off what can only amount to at least a million euro on the back of the city, and is now claiming that new signage is required to make restoration of the buildings viable! What a farce. The money he’s earned could have paid for twenty full-time planners to clean up the entire city centre, never mind O’Connell Street.
The detail of the planning decision here is unclear to me on a number of levels. It seems the conditions dictate that a revised shopfront design based on a Wide Streets Commission model be reinstated here, but this is not referenced in the report itself. Similarly, it is conditioned that ‘render may be stripped’ to the upper floors, but it doesn’t specify which building – it seems to suggest the corner post-1916 rendering, even though this wasn’t proposed. Painting is also mentioned, but again it’s unclear if this is the brickwork of the neighbouring building or the rendered building. To be honest, I’m glad this has been kept loose as this all needs to be kept firmly in the hands of conservation guidance, but a fresh planning application with very specific proposals would be more desirable.
Ultimately, the idea here is to reinstate the entire arcaded Wide Streets Commission series of shopfronts across the entire group of buildings, which I believe will work exceptionally well as a unit – not as well fragmented. If everyone is on a level playing field then commercially the terrace has strong potential to be a success – particularly with the wide pavement outside. It is also an aspiration to return all of the upper facades to their 1780s exposed brick, but this is fraught with technical complications and needs to be carefully considered. It was a central part of both of the recent applications, either to strip render, add render, or repair/paint render, but much more joined-up thinking is required. This is also where a National Lottery Heritage Fund is so useful, if it existed.
As we speak, new 1780s sash windows have just been installed on the westernmost property following on from unauthorised works last year when nasty clunky double-glazed sashes went in. They look great. The intention with this building is to trial render removal and/or in the meantime paint it a nice muted colour of c.1900 date. The WSC shopfront will take some structural planning to ensure the upper facade is correctly supported.