Time for DDDA to be put out of its zombie-like misery
It is no accident that the longest stretch of the Liffey Quays is named after James Butler, the great Duke of Ormonde. He had spent the Cromwellian years in exile with King Charles II in Paris and was so impressed by quays on the Seine that, as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland after the Restoration in 1660, he ordained that Dublin’s relationship with its river should be similarly reordered.
The Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) and its top people either didn’t know or care about this essential historical fact, or its implied imperative that the line of the Liffey quays simply had to be retained. With supreme arrogance, they devised an “Occupy the River” project in collaboration with Dutch architects, involving the creation of an island between Spencer Dock and The Point.
First presented as a concept to the DDDA’s board in November 2005, it was fleshed out a year later by director of architecture John McLaughlin and West 8 Architects from Rotterdam as “Liffey Island: a new canal would define the northern, eastern and western edges with high-density, high-rise buildings, including skewed towers pushing out into the Liffey”, as Declan Brassil Co’s planning report notes.
The Dutch know all about making land; they’ve been doing it for centuries. But the most apt role model for what the DDDA had in mind was surely Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Makhtoum, the ruler of Dubai, with his artificial islands in the Arabian Gulf. The object of the exercise, both there and here, was to manufacture real estate – in Dublin’s case, by creating a “mini-Manhattan” rising up from the river.