Underused Parks

Underused Parks

Postby PVC King » Wed Feb 18, 2004 5:18 pm

The restyling of Wolfe Tone Park has in my opinion been a great success and has given vibrancy to a formally quiet area of the city.

The subject of the Garden of Remberence has now been raised. It is very clear that this very well sited space could offer a lot more than it does in its current layout.

The small park beside Jurys at Christchuch has been chained up for over a year now.

Mount Pleasant park in Ranelagh is another although less strategically important park that is also underperforming.

From an urban design perspective what measures should be taken to increase the amenity value of these parks?
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Postby notjim » Wed Feb 18, 2004 5:26 pm

I have mixed feelings about the Garden of Rememberance, it is clear alot more could be done with that site, on the other hand, the Garden itself is so typical of its time and of that old fashioned attitude to the national struggle, it would be a pity to lose it. What would be best, I think, would be to try and preserve elements of the memorial, the sculpting, the cross shaped reflecting pool, within an enlarged, redesigned and more open park.
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Postby PVC King » Wed Feb 18, 2004 5:40 pm

A very basic observation would be that all three parks have only one entrance and exit.

I like the Plaza model it really works very well when the site is a square as access is virtually unrestricted by the absence of railings restricting movement.

I also feel that it would be a pity to lose the garden of rememberence as it is a unique throw back to the days of the military parade on Easter Sunday.
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Postby garethace » Wed Feb 18, 2004 5:41 pm

About time someone started this thread, it should be a major issue from now on in Dublin and Ireland as a whole to highlight the whole issue of what open spaces do exist within the city, town or village and decide which ones are worth keeping, partly building on, or just abandoning altogether in favour of use as building land.

Somewhere in all of this, compromises I am sure will have to be made and it is up to the architectural community to appreciate this as much as possible. Who knows, maybe some new opportunities to create open spaces might happen in the future and thereby compensate in the longer run, for some of the spaces lost over the years. This is a whole topic I think is very worth while discussing.

A big problem in major towns around this country is the way in which cars all gang into the central square area, or other open public amenity space to use it as a carpark. This might have worked perfectly in the days of horse fairs etc, et - but not for vehicular today.

Then at nightime, when all the cars have disappeared you are left with this huge open space, which doesn't appear to have any other use associated with it - apart from vandalism generally and junvenille upstarts making it their 'territory'.
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Postby GregF » Wed Feb 18, 2004 5:48 pm

The quality of the grass aka lawn at Wolfe Tone Park is very poor. It is uneven and patchy in places. Despite it being a utility lawn it could be still much better.
The Croppy Acre is park which is lacking despite having a recent makeover.
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Postby Paul Clerkin » Wed Feb 18, 2004 5:56 pm

The lawn at Wolfe Tone is currently offlimits after a reseeding....
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Postby blue » Wed Feb 18, 2004 6:16 pm

I'd agree Wolf Tone Park is a lot better now it's opened up. When they eventually finish working on St Mary's it should be even better.

Does any one know what is happening with the Dame Street's Millennium Garden? Did the proposed plan get planning permission?
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Re: Underused Parks

Postby ewanduffy » Wed Feb 18, 2004 7:10 pm

Originally posted by Diaspora
Mount Pleasant park in Ranelagh is another although less strategically important park that is also underperforming.

Could it be that people don't know if these parks are public or private or even private but we'll turn a blind eye to you being there (like Wilton Park). Not knowing whether or not you will be turfed out keeps people away.
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Postby PVC King » Wed Feb 18, 2004 7:17 pm

Quote "Not knowing whether or not you will be turfed out keeps people away."

That is a very good point.

I think it all comes back to the Wolfe Tone park layout and the fact that no private individual in their right mind leaves private property open.

I think it is very much part of the Irish culture not to stray onto urban lands unless they are sure that it is public property or a school etc.
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Re: Re: Underused Parks

Postby garethace » Wed Feb 18, 2004 7:24 pm

Originally posted by ewanduffy

Could it be that people don't know if these parks are public or private or even private but we'll turn a blind eye to you being there (like Wilton Park). Not knowing whether or not you will be turfed out keeps people away.


Sorry to say this, but that sounds exactly like some of the colleges DIT own around the city now, where so few people are rattling around inside these very expensive facilities, that the security guys seem to have gotten paranoid about everyone who walks through the doors now.

I often notice, how Trinity college can just get away with a couple of goons who need to have very little interaction with the general student populus - and Trinity is right in the heart of the city - a quite sizeable campus. Whereas DIT seem to need goons in every little rat-hole they own all over Dublin. I think goons would out number staff in some institutions now! :)

I think it is very much part of the Irish culture not to stray onto urban lands unless they are sure that it is public property or a school etc.


An architect I knew built a kindergarten not long ago, and decided to take his all new €900 digital camera with him one day to take pictures. He had to stand back very far to get a good angle of view of the front facade. But then he noticed that he was standing inside in the scrubbery, pointing a camera at a kindergarten and the teacher and pupils were all staring out the window at him.

So he jumped in his car and drove off, without photographing anything. :)
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Postby PVC King » Wed Feb 18, 2004 7:33 pm

Quote "Whereas DIT seem to need goons in every little rat-hole they own all over Dublin"

Quote "I often notice, how Trinity college can just get away with a couple of goons"

Trinity is also beside the biggest copshop in Dublin where as DIT is located in some of Dublins less well policed districts. I remember a lecturer telling us of her time as a student in the early 1980's at that time you needed to take a taxi home after 7pm in winter time from Bolton St. I suppose the powers of DIT didn't want to let staff go once the security environment surrounding the colleges improved during the 90's

The point that I am making with these parks, is similar to Ewan's point, the enclosed nature of many of these parks is a deterent to your average punter.

The wolfe tone park being a prime example, of a space that once was restricted to a bit of underage drinking use, now being used by a much larger and diverse group of people. As a place of recreation.
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Postby garethace » Wed Feb 18, 2004 7:41 pm

But Trinity college is still one of the best places to lose your new bicycle unfortunately and the short walk to the Garda Station in Pearse Street, doesn't make that experience feel any better either I can tell you. Speaking from personal experience in December 2002.

But I think if DIT was more organised together in one place, it could operate as Trinity does now - as a university and also as a very pleasant public place in which to enjoy open space and people generally just walking and talking. To an overwhelming extent it tends to police itself.

I mean, you cannot divorce public park and public usage - they are not exclusive - one supports the other. I think that the Daniel Libeskind or SOM entries for Carlisle Pier could be very interesting if sited someplace like Belfield or Trinity or a potential DIT campus at GrangeGorman, where you might get the numbers of bodies using the schemes as were described by the CG renderings.

A university is generally an ideal program to combine with 'open spaces'. This fact of course has been completed ignored in the way in which DIT has been allowed to develop as an institution. Notice in Belfield, the way the football fields almost miggle with the buildings at this stage.
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Postby PVC King » Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:12 pm

Quote "I mean, you cannot divorce public park and public usage - they are not exclusive - one supports the other"

Absolutely I think that the BOI HQ on Baggot st illustrates this perfectly. During the summer months many office workers use the stonework at the front of the complex as a seat while eating their lunch.

In the evenings kids entre the desrted space and practice BMX and skateboard maneouvers.

The Georges dock area of the first phase of the IFSC is another example of the Campus development style in offices.

In this case I think that DCC could take their cue from these highly successful private sector developments.

The park at Christchurch beside Jury's really is an example of what not to do, it is sunken below pavement level with only one entrance and has too much planting which makes it appear dark and uninviting.

Clarity is everything, open space with ample seating.

As for the DIT I forgive them
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Postby shaun » Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:14 pm

On the subject of Trinity and cops, is it true that the gardai do not go/are not permitted to go into the grounds (at Trinity) or is this just an urban legend. This is what the dude who used to sell ounces on a Saturday morning near the cricket- field back in oh, 1983-4 told
us and you know what, we never saw a cop the whole summer long.
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Postby Devin » Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:51 pm

I kind of feel the same as notjim about the Garden of Remembrance. It's quaint. I wouldn't like to lose it completely. Granted the Roman cross plan doesn't represent our inclusive, right-on 21st cen. society! But what harm? The coloured tiles showing groups of Celtic weaponry in the bottom of the pool are amazingly vibrant.

I also like the blank curving wall at the back - but it's ruined by the knee-high planted border.

The railings around the garden (which bound a large part of Parnell Sq also) are an interesting take on Georgian/Victorian railings (unlike horrible mild steel mock-traditional railings used on suburban houses and rural trophy houses).

The fact that it's a peaceful oasis at the moment is just a reflection of the hostile traffic island that is Parnell Square, and the fact that the garden doesn't relate to the Georgian square. But then IT was built AFTER the Rotunda Hosp had encroached into the square with various buildings.

The O'Connell Street Integrated Area Plan has something about an entrance into a redesigned garden opposite the Hugh Lane Gallery, but I don't know if that's been superseded by new plans mentioned by Frank McD. in the paper last week for the square as a centre of cultural institutions ...

Planners, if you're reading, take note of notjim's suggestion for incorporating the best parts of the garden in an enlarged, redesigned park.
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Postby PVC King » Wed Feb 18, 2004 10:57 pm

Quote Garethace ". Notice in Belfield, the way the football fields almost mingle with the buildings at this stage."

Quote Devin "and the fact that the garden doesn't relate to the Georgian square. But then IT was built AFTER the Rotunda Hosp had encroached into the square with various buildings"

The reality is that the Three parks under discussion all have buildings and as such aren't Squares in the same way as the Green or Merrion or Fitz Squares.

That is what makes these parks so interesting, what do you do to overcome these handicaps?

There is obviously a way to convert at least the garden of Remberance into a leading civic space if the right alterations are made.

I suspect that a block of apartments might be the solution at Christchurch as the site is too small to shield it from the heavy volume of traffic. Whilst leaving a bright quantum of civic space.
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Postby Devin » Wed Feb 18, 2004 11:18 pm

Yeah, but remember the park in Parnell Square was the "Pleasure Gardens" of the Rotunda Hospital from the very beginning. There's a great photo somewhere taken from up in one of the Georgian houses in about 1900 looking at the Pleasure Gardens sweeping down to the rear of the Rotunda, which is a fine facade in itself, with colonnades curving forwards like the front.

There's a vague objective in the O'C St IAP plan for reclaiming some of that space built on by the hospital in the 20th century.
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Postby shadow » Thu Feb 19, 2004 10:44 am

A couple of points:

Wolfe Tone Square is over a graveyard, bodies still interred. As a "sacred" space it is being poorly considered. Fairs, theatre and other events over this ground is I believe problematic. The secularisation of the spiritual confirmed by the conversion of the church to a super pub will destroy a very important link with the past.
Parnell Square was a pleasure garden, which funded the laying in hospital but was separate. The activities, particularly at night were considered unsavoury. This was “pleasure” of the widest (wildest) possible description. Ironic that it is the site for remembering revolution.
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Postby GrahamH » Thu Feb 19, 2004 12:26 pm

Having a maternity hospital on the doorstep was therefore helpful no doubt!

Its a great shame about the Christchurch park. Whereas its sunken nature adds to the charm of the place, it inevitably repels visitors. A more transparent boundary would help a lot, whilst still allowing it to be secured at night.

The Garden of Rememberance doesn't need much doing to it, it's a great 'period piece' and would be a shame to lose it or parts of it. A better integration with the rest of the square is largely all that is required, what little of the square is left...
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Postby phil » Thu Feb 19, 2004 12:26 pm

That is a good point you make Shadow. I too find it weird the way the grave stones are just piled up at the end like some token display of respect for the dead.
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Postby PVC King » Thu Feb 19, 2004 10:28 pm

Quote Shdow "As a "sacred" space it is being poorly considered. Fairs, theatre and other events over this ground is I believe problematic."

Shadow I'm a little confused but agree with the point that respect for site history particularly religious history is a fundamental pre-requisite.

My understanding was that at least a very large proportion of thw Wolfe Tone Park was a DCC park that was surrounded by railings. I never entered this space as I found it most uninviting so I was unaware as to the existence of any graveyard or headstones.

Secondly a lot of the events staged in the space were done so because Smithfield wasn't sufficiently finished at that time. I suspect that the french market was sponsored by AXA who occupy the offices directly opposite and who are headquartered in Paris.

If an area beside the church was preserved and if drama events were staged at the FAS end of the park would you be satisfied with the Park?

Regarding the Church itself, it can't there waiting for another religious tenant it needs to earn its corn. But I agree that a typical Temple Bar superpub should be prevented. However I think it would make an excellent live music venue something like the Gaiety perhaps?
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Postby James » Thu Feb 19, 2004 10:53 pm

I wonder whether the railings to Parnell Sq are actualy original late Georgian - I have a feeling that the pattern of 'post' used is correct for that period and vaguely recall an early 19th Cent print showing them (along with the Sedan Chair points removed in the late 40's).

That said I also remember reading that when originally laid out the square was used as a vast carriage park and was extraordinarily mucky.

Mind you I hate the idea of building up the sides of the square - much abused as it is!!. It is the only square in the city which has a building on it (the Rotunda) designed to face onto the square as well as onto the street.

And the relationship with the Northern (Charlmont) terrace would be destroyed.

It would seem to me to be a far better idea to try to return the square to a more ornamental representation of its original 18th century appearance when it was a pleasure garden - it would'nt be impossible although it would require taking back the internal car park and yard areas from the rotunda.

Yes the more I think about it the idea of building on it really stinks - I think it and the old Tholsel would then be the only Malton views to have been lost to the City.

Sorry Dick -Thumbs Down!!, that idea really sucks - try employing some local architects to advise you on this stuff - Much as I like Richard McCormac's work and can tolerate MBM (in Spain) - I don't think much of their grasp of context in a Dublin sense.
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Postby PVC King » Mon Feb 23, 2004 9:48 pm

Originally posted by James
.

It would seem to me to be a far better idea to try to return the square to a more ornamental representation of its original 18th century appearance when it was a pleasure garden - it would'nt be impossible although it would require taking back the internal car park and yard areas from the rotunda.


That would make a lot of sense, it is amazing that no-one thought about it as a millenium project. I also doubt that it would be very costly. :)
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Postby Harry » Tue Feb 24, 2004 4:36 pm

I have always thought that the Phoenix Park, although used quite a lot, could be so much better.

I always seem to think of how well Central Park NY is used (all year round).

Have we grown so used to having such a large park so close to the city centre that we have forgotten that it is a park and simply treat it as a carpark and a short-cut home?
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Postby phil » Tue Feb 24, 2004 6:59 pm

Harry, I think that it would be difficult to compare Central Park in NY with our Phoenix Park because NY is obviously so much more built up around the area in which the park is situated. Therefore there is a natural usage of the park by those people who either work or live in the area as well as those people who might have made the effort to travel to it. It is hard to know how to make something like the Phoenix Park 'better'. I suppose improving access from the city centre would help but it is probably not a public transport priority at the moment.

Thanks

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