venting views.

venting views.

Postby cathal(studentofarch) » Thu Jan 20, 2000 1:41 pm

The idea that you could suggest to have a pole to see what Dublin's ugliest building, sugests to me sir that you have exactly the same attitude as those making the mistakes in the design and building of the city of Dublin. The problem with Dublin is that there are too many profit hungry developers and multinationals, with friends in planning, taking advantage of and raping, I say raping the city we have complacently abandoned. It is an inherent problem and we need positive influences from the outside, from those countries in Europe who have the experience to deal with these problems of squandering funds on infrastructure in the wrong place, at the wrong times. Because one fails to recognise this I suggest that your pole is a futile stand against the advacing armies of corruption and international megalomania that are presently destroying the prospects of a sustainable and solid city structure that we could with pride call Dublin.
O'connell St's shops, gamelands, buger kings, and all other quick convenience stores are a downright embarrassment to not only us but to everyone who visits dublin.
Privatise planning and stop the brown envelopes. Good comment MG (last comment) every apartment block in Dublin(have any other architects ever been in them?) put up in the last six years (as long as I have been in Dublin) should be torn down- and more than likely will be when they are deemed unfit for the most basic of living needs in a few years and have passed their use-by date and the tax-incentives are no longer paying off, will be torn down anyway. Or that's when the corporation will put all the scumbags in there, so they can milk every last penny from the monstrosities they are. Wherever there is a free site in Dublin you can be sure that the greedy developers cutting corners with site safety and so forth will be the first in there with a proposal for a new carpark or a new block of apartments or some such other banality, but with all this drokk which is really something that will always be there, Dublin seems to be lagging behind in it's proportionate amount of good tasteful building design.

So give some money to Cork, Galway and Limerick and to the roads between, city slicking Euro-heads. Maybe we'll show you how it's done.
cathal(studentofarch)
 

Postby Enda » Thu Jan 20, 2000 10:59 pm

I have been reading this forum for some time now and have only just decided I would like to say something. I have been in college in the US for the last couple of years and I like to get a feel for how Dublin is progressing, or indeed failing, in my absence. Architecture is not my area of expertise put it has always been a passion. I know what I like and don’t like.

One thing that really outrages me is to read such pessimistic dribble as what Cathal wrote and indeed many others. This is the type of attitude that will put Dublin in the same boat as all those depressing small cities in Britain. Dublin is now in a unique situation. An unprecedented amount of wealth has been created over the past ten years. Ireland has been kind to investors and is now seen as very pro-business society. In other words we don’t have small-minded mobs protesting every enterprise that decides to set up shop and god forbid make a return on their investment.

Such comments made by Cathal as "give some money to Cork, Galway and Limerick", suggests to me that you belong, in government, in one of those last remaining socialist states where people expect to receive everything and give nothing in return. How about getting of your ass and doing something about the, "too many profit hungry developers". Maybe you should develop all the new housing going up! You seem to have all the answers. Take an economics class some time you might learn something. Supply and demand curve mean anything to you?

Remember Cathal anyone can bitch, that’s not hard. In fact most people do it because they feel they are contributing. This kind of contribution is getting nobody nowhere.
Enda
 

Postby MG » Fri Jan 21, 2000 10:09 am

All very idealistic of our student friend, but it does assume the point that architects are blame free. And we know that's not true, architects still have to feed their employees and their families so they take the work where they can. Ultimately it is up to the architecture community to try and raise development design quality.

As for the apartments, look again at the next new block you see, see the blue RIAI sign? That means it was designed by an architect!!!

What we can all do is encourage discussion here, it's all about increasing awareness not just complaining. Architects and developers need to know that they are accountable to the public whether that be through negative reaction in discussion or more direct approaches such as protests.

And when I say negative reaction, I do mean negative but constructive criticism rather than just negative.
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Postby MG » Fri Jan 21, 2000 10:11 am

And when I say student friend, I mean Cathal and not Enda. Enda' comments are constructive yet positive - it's a "we know what has to be done and we'll do it" attitude rather that "we know what has to be done, so why aren't you doing it".
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Postby cathal » Fri Jan 21, 2000 6:05 pm

Point well made and taken Enda.
O.K. it was maybe rash of me to talk about Dublin that way, but it is a young city, has much to learn, I think, and I know more mistakes will be made, this frustrates me.
I would like to say that I am looking forward to working in Dublin again after the nine months experience I had last year.
I think there is much room ín dublin for design and more tasteful projects and I want to be part of it.

But I enjoy being criticised and seeíng things from your point of view and agree with you fully Enda when you say that Ireland is pro-business and kind to investors, as a result there is a vibrant vital buzz about the city and a very enjoyable place to be,in fact one of the best in Europe, from my experience! However I also agree with you when you suggest that I should do the developing in Dublin, as I and my contemporaries, and I speak for students of architecure everywhere when I say this, are the cream of the crop when design is in question and the emerging generation of designers are a new breed on the cutting edge, and I hope Dublin will be graced with their presences often into the future, leaving far behind them the scoffing mob of philistinic cynical self declared keepers of the city far behind wallowing in their lists of listed buildings and proposed golf courses (who even cares if nick faldo is the one building the next anyway) blotting the irish landscape.
It is a question of design Enda, not economics.
I refer to property developers and so forth to establish the understanding that these groups (not all mind) were the ones responsible for the eventual manifestations of examples like "the ugliest buildings in Dublin" and resulting debates.
I look forward to being part of the development of Dublin in the future, and hope I strive hard to achieve my goals, which I know from the schooling I have been put through for the last five years, abroad also, I might as well play that card aswell, are justified and valid.

I wish to say I do not wish to offend, and hope that my comment which was accidentally opened as a new forum, will spur more debate, in the meantime I have a planet to save.
So long.
cathal
 

Postby fiachra » Fri Jan 21, 2000 6:23 pm

Cathal,
Calm down!!! Good design does not mean expensive design. Its not all economics .. the designers are not blame free.
fiachra
 

Postby TLucas » Fri Jan 21, 2000 6:36 pm

Wait Cathal, until you leave your Ivory Academic Tower and rea ch the real-world and are dependent on property developers for your wages.

This is also a suggestion in your comments that there is no place for dicsussion forums like here. Are you suggesting that the city be left in the hands of the architects and that we the people should have no say or opinions on what direction the development of the city should take?
TLucas
 

Postby Peter Fitz » Sun Jan 23, 2000 5:23 am

Are you having a laugh or what???
Calm down!!!
Peter Fitz
 

Postby Celfi » Mon Jan 24, 2000 5:17 pm

MG Wrote:
> As for the apartments, look again at the next new block you see, see the blue RIAI
> sign? That means it was designed by an architect!!!

Nice of the guilty to own up. I know the developer is paying the final bill, and ultimately dictates the size and layout of buildings, but all of the apartments I have seen (and lived in) here in Dublin have been very poorly designed. Here are my top gripes:
* Too many (narrow, twisting) corridors wasted space, requiring artificial light
* Too many units accessed from same entrance
* Apartments lacking in storage space (either in-apartment or in basement)
* Poor levels on insulation (heat and sound) - it is common to have to listed to your neighbours arguments, TV and toilet.
* House rules proscribing hanging laundry outside of bu9ilding - but no alternative arrangements.
In short, the crop of apartments built in recent years are adequate as student lodgings, but don't meet the requirements for quality high density housing that are essential if the city is to continue to grow.
Isn't architecture about function as well as form? I don't mind ugly (or at least bland) buildings, but they should at least work.
Celfi
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Postby someguy » Mon Jan 24, 2000 5:58 pm

Celfi, bang on!

I live in the Bacholers Walk complex, all of you points hold true in fact the only thing functional about the place is the fact it has a roof.

Don't forget

* kitchen's so small, two people can't pass each other.
someguy
 

Postby cathal » Tue Jan 25, 2000 6:48 pm

Yes perhaps I have neglected to mention that, no I don't think that it should be left up to the architects alone, but as celfi (sorry for dragging you into this) so informatively noted the design of the housing blocks in question erected in the guise of contemporary design, are so badly designed, obviously one could not assume that these projects can be left in the hands of architects alone.

As for my comments about the fact that there is no room for dicussion in forums, it may have been written in heat and haste, and for this zealous and impetuous outburst I apologise, but room for debates on topics like Dublins ugliest building a debate so complacentl, when there are oboviously other problems to address firstly and foremostly like the proper design of functional spaces and sustainable design (that's design that lasts well into the unforeseeable future while going easy on energy costs and resources) ref. celfi's last comments.
I take the example of the tower blocks in Ballymun. If it were a higher "class" of clientel living in these tower blocks then I'm sure people wouldn't have as much of a problem with how they look on the skyline etc. If it were a higher "class" of clientel living in these tower blocks then it would probably be because they are better designed, more from the inside out, sustainable, with proper vertical and horizontal circulation, thus promoting more community interaction, keep the rain out, have proper durable drainage and plumbing services and larger more spacious rooms with proper ventilation. If there were a higher "class" of clientel living here they wouldn't be torn down, and the argument about how they look would be rendered inconsequential. But the problem isn't the clientel, because the higher class of clientel moved out a long time ago.

If high rise apartments can work in New York, London, Copenhagen, Stockholm, places in Paris, Amsterdam etc. why can't they work in Dublin?

Yes it is the developers who dictate the size and layout and plot ratios of schemes.
Then the architect suitably adjusts to the needs of the planning laws and the final product is compromised as regards healthy design. Design should not only be beautiful or humane and fully functional,but should also include, aspects relating to social/cultural, yes economic, and environmental impacts, which from my admittedly more limited experience, than any of you practising, is being largely ignored by too many people, ranging from clients and/or developers, architects and planners, who are responsible for this work.

I read somewhere that presently the environmental impact assesment (E.I.A.) for the new propsals in Ballymun was done away with, due to the fact that, when submitted for planning the land area footprinted by this scheme, eventhough twice the size of the land area recommended for any E.I.A., was broken down into smaller plots to avoid the "unnecessary" wasting of time entailed in doing such a study. As if the first mistake wasn't enough. I mean it's laughable!
Maybe when I come down from my ivory tower of late nights in the studio meagre nutrition, and the other sacrafices students like myself make for our courses, then maybe I'll see the real world. Until then I'm happy to raise points I see worthy of discussion. Anything wrong with that.

True. Good design is not expensive design.
I also believe maybe too many have this contrary idea. If more people realised this then maybe building costs would go down and the needs for attractive factors such as tax incentives, and land rezoning would be greatly reduced,(as the total cost is proportionately greatly reduced) and a fairer share would be available for everyone.

Right now the rush for such money saving opportunities seems to be torrential, and as a result, difficult for first time buyers, who often have no choice but to rent the apartments on offer, hinders the aquisition of loans and ensures difficulty in maintaining a balance in the housing and construction market.

P.S. why should I calm down, am I touching home?
cathal
 

Postby Tommy G » Wed Jan 26, 2000 12:20 am

Blaming architects for bad buildings is like blaming doctors for cancer.

Do those of us who blame architects for poor buildings really believe that they deliberately design shite? If so, why would they do this?

For the money? I don't think so. A B.Comm, for example, takes less time, costs less money and almost guarantees a better salary. Most people who choose to study architecture are not motivated do it for money reasons, because there are much easier ways to make money.

Architects are trained to make good buildings. I think that most of them try to do this as well as they can, because that's what they spent 5-6 hard years in university learning to do. For an architect not to design what he considers or has been trained to consider to be a good building, he/she is guilty of professional negligence.The reasons for bad buildings are much, much more complex than the failure of architects. It's so lame to attack an easy target.
Tommy G
 

Postby B Kenny » Wed Jan 26, 2000 11:09 am

I have discovered this site and this thread as an outsider from the U.S. in Seattle, and the immediate thing I'm struck by is how this discussion is about my city too. Developers trashing the cityscape, the landscape, putting up junk and getting out of town with their money. Actually, where would this description _not_ apply is my question... The thing to do is to understand in depth how it all happens, and then respond with precision.

Two years and counting out of architecture school, and I'm trying to honor the ambitions I nursed so closely "back then". I've only begun to taste the range of difficulties architects face in trying to make their life, their careers, and their buildings. I've listed those three things in order of importance, I think. Or have I? You tell me, because my mind keeps changing.

I say it that way because I can appreciate more now, having left the "ivory tower" and green fields of school, just how many decisions an architect is faced with in a day. I'm now making some myself. One of those decisions is quite often "Do I keep working on this, or do I go home today?" The quality of the building can be at stake if you take that decision and multiply by months or years, for the life of a project. For those whose fire to conquer the world through architecture did not burn as brightly as they'd thought, the easy way becomes more and more seductive. The difficulty grows with family and other commitments. The smartest figure out how to do the good work without becoming martyrs in the process. That's the place to be, I think, but I don’t think it’s easy to get there.

To be less forgiving, many other architects see the paychecks grow as they take on more work; the staff and commitments grow, and our former hopeful design-king just simply sells out and makes Dublin's cheap flats, or my city's cheap condos and apartments which go begging for 2 million-dollar repairs three years after they’re built. I don’t think any city has cornered the market on shoddy, ugly buildings, I'm afraid. I’ll visit Dublin this summer, though, and I’m curious to see what’s happening to your home. Most American cities lack the centuries of built form and history that are threatened and ravaged in Dublin, but we've certainly mastered raping Nature's designs on a vast scale. I return to my childhood home in the Eastern U.S. every year, and every time I rage and weep at miles of forest that I remember being there turned into developments (or housing estates, as you may call them). Now, I work in an office that designs buildings for developers who aren't the worst, but they don't care the way I care. Opportunities are often lost, and the city or the land is diminished for it every time.

All human endeavors, architecture included, are subject to the foibles of human nature. Developers are so very often humans who exploit and benefit from a situation no one else has taken advantage of. It's their singular goal, and they often make lots of money by doing so. Why should they stop, for benefits that they imagine threaten their profits? They will do what they can get away with. So, control them when possible with limits and guidelines and review, but seduce them through your skill. Show them how to build sustainable and context-sensitive, and _quantify_ for them how they'd be more profitable because they reduced their mechanical costs by 30% or made their units more marketable with "design features", then you've controlled their game. Easy, right? Of course not, but it's the only path I see that can be sustained in today’s world. Burn ‘em down if you feel that strongly, but you better have an answer people can live in. A critique won’t keep the rain out.

Be unyielding and realistic simultaneously. Be a good architect and lead.
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Postby Celfi » Wed Jan 26, 2000 1:23 pm

I agree that the architect alone cannot deliver the solution to the problems raised here, and in reply to Tommy G's question, "Do those of us who blame architects for poor buildings really believe that they deliberately design shite? If so, why would they do this?" - as I said in an earlier post, it is the developer who ultimately mandates the 'shite', but I think the architect is in a prime position to steer the developer onto the right path. After all, a good building (both in form and function) is ultimately a better investment than a shoddy one, as well as being a good advertisement for future work. Unfortunately, in Ireland today, the developer will not go hungry, however bad previous project have been.

High-density urban living requires government and legal support. When the planning authority allows basic design flaws such as those I mentioned in my last post, they are failing to do their job properly - that is, protecting the consumer from bad design. I would like to see a set of guidelines for apartment development, that should be met in order to obtain planning permission. Fergal MacCabe's study "Planning Issues Relating to Residential Density in Urban and Suburban Locations" (http://www.environ.ie/press/studycover.html) addresses a lot of these issues and is very encouraging for the future, if implemented.

Consumer awareness is another aspect - house and apartment buyers need to be shown what options they have, and to be made aware of the shortfalls in current housing product - how can this be achieved? I don't suppose the Irish Times property section would entertain running an article that would be, per se, critical of the products of many of it's advertisers.
I'm going along to the "Citizen & the City" symposium this weekend, and see if it offers any hope.

Does this discussion have a place in an Architecture forum? If architects see themselves merely as stylist, then no, it doesn't.
Celfi
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Postby cathal » Thu Jan 27, 2000 1:04 pm

I wish to direct your attention people, to the "portals of darkness forum". Stomach churning dross. There is also a good reply regarding the zeal of campaigning against this sort of blight.
cathal
 

Postby Tommy G » Mon Feb 07, 2000 6:35 pm

Celfi

You make some very good points about some of the real issues affecting the building industry and affecting why we often get bad products, i.e., ugly, dehumanising buildings.

Architects do have a small role to play, as "convincers" or "leaders" vis-a vis their clients. But let's not exaggerate; the role is small. It is extremely difficult to enlighten people, especially developers who are in the business for the fast buck, in a business, where there is very little regulation (i.e. protection of design) in this country.

Good design is a very precious and fairly defenceless commodity. A society which does not recognise this and does not regulate to protect the design aspect of building design (through codes, professional protection and legal frameworks) will almost inevitably get very badly designed buildings.
Tommy G
 


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