Stephenson - poacher turned gamekeeper?

Postby phil » Wed Feb 04, 2004 12:43 pm

Notjim, I think that was Le Corbusiers plan.

I hate the way when I look at some of those buildings on Stephens Green (East side) I look at them in the knowledge that they are not really georgian buildings. It does nothing for me and it really takes away from the experience of some of our other georgian buildings. I always now look at them with a little bit of doubt (except of course for the ones that are obviously original). I also have a strong admiring of those ones which look like patchwork quilts because of repairs which have been done to them over the years.
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Postby GregF » Wed Feb 04, 2004 12:47 pm

Well let's say as has already being said it's like replacing the missing leg of a fine old antique table. Would you replace it with tubular steel. The damage was done to 16 houses of a mile long street. In the context of the whole street it would be, I believe, the best solution if it were repaired with faithful replicas, (although I am totally against pastiche(see Gardiner Street)

In Europe for example after WW11 fine squares and streets which were partially damaged due to air raids/bombings were faithfully reconstructed, yet those that were obliterated were built anew in the then contemporary style. Let’s say then in this case that Fitzwilliam Street has been partially damaged.

I accept our colonial past, it's a fact we Irish must accept as part of our history.
However, it does not justify the destruction of our architectural heritage that has been left to us.
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Postby alan d » Wed Feb 04, 2004 12:52 pm

Paris is an interesting example, the building that has the cultural longevity there is still the Centre Pompidou, not Pei's pyramid.

Paris has outstanding areas but some very repetative and frankly boring bits, usually where the 19th Century building have been recreated. The most succesful has been where dynamic new architecture compliments the old, in my view.
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Postby Rory W » Wed Feb 04, 2004 12:54 pm

Why would you want to hang on to something anyway that is so representational of the Empire?


Because without it we'd have bugger all else of interest in this town - after independence we had a short bust of excellence followed by a downward spiral of dross and mediocrity which we are only really starting to drag ourselves out of. Never forget these buildings were built by Irish craftsmen.
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Postby FIN » Wed Feb 04, 2004 12:58 pm

it's not our architectural heritage though and even though it was built by irish slave labour it still isn't ours. so why not build something of interest that is ours and not try to recreate this rubbish.
you are beginning to think about what your saying now greg which is good. i am not trying to piss you off saying that but your previous rambling wasn't convincing. you make some good points but i still think that it's a mistake to put up replica's of what is sadly inefficient design for today.
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Postby alan d » Wed Feb 04, 2004 1:09 pm

Sorry Rory it's not for me to say really.......... but if you're determined slag your city well that's up to you.

A quick look at recent Irish Architecture Award books will confirm that you have some very, very good new buildings.

Sam Stephenson, Michael Scott, Ronald Tallon Peter and Mary Doyle et al are cultural influences to be cherished.............whether you like their work or not.
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Postby GregF » Wed Feb 04, 2004 1:13 pm

Fin, you just can't dismiss it as rubbish, that is an innane remark. You come across as being rather cavalier and ignorant.
What would you propose then a few glitzy appartments and a Spar, more practical I suppose.
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Postby d_d_dallas » Wed Feb 04, 2004 2:24 pm

Personally I have no problems with ESB HQ - what I do have a problem with is people still going on about the destruction of the Georgian vista etc etc etc. That was a long time ago. We need to move on. Let it go. It was a shame it happened - but time is a healer and to many people ESB HQ is as much part of Fitzwilliam St's fabric as the Georgians on Mount St. We should be grateful to have the Georgian stock we still have and cherish it - not insult it with some pastiche facade covering ESB, pretending as though history never happened. It is 2004.
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Postby phil » Wed Feb 04, 2004 2:35 pm

Well said d_d. You have said in a few sentences what I have been waffling about in a few different replies to this thread. I also think it would be an insult to both the originals and to the ESB HQ to put a new facade on it. GregF, with regards to your anolagy with antique chair, I think that if the georgian mile was absolute perfection originally of absolute uniformity than you might have had a point, but it was not perfect. I still enjoy, as I have always, looking down the Georgian mile. As a young person growing up I always remember wondering why the ESB building was different to the rest of them. However, I also took it for granted that it was part of it and have always admired it, if you see what I mean!?
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Postby GregF » Wed Feb 04, 2004 2:35 pm

People hark on about Georgian vistas etc.....because they were designed with the most fundamental tenet of urban design, with symmetry and focal points in mind.....which is why Modernism failed at times too. If you look at the rejuvenation of O'Connell Street these tenets or principles are being applied in a way ...ie the positioning of the Spire, the specific landscaping and planting of trees and placement of furniture, the widening of the foothpaths etc... This is whats at the core of good urban design. A lot can be learned from such classical times that can be applied today (and not just in a pastiche Post Modernist sense or style)
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Postby alan d » Wed Feb 04, 2004 2:41 pm

The issue is not about retention or demolition or modern architecture or heritage.

In Glasgow, as I think also in Dublin, we have somehow to create an environment where excellence in urban design and architecture is expected. That's what seems to happen in Scandanavia and northern Europe.

Bye the way, I've just been looking at the Opus Housing Awards and the Ardoyne Mews project by Design Strategies in Clyde Lane. For me, it is worth more than any Rebuilt Georgian infill.
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Postby FIN » Wed Feb 04, 2004 2:46 pm

cavalier but not ignorant greg. my point although lost(by me mostly) was not to put up some mock georgian rubbish to hide the fact that someone built something other than houses there. urban design is also about marking "landmarks" for orientation( term being used a lot recently to it's demise as a significant marker of urban spaces) the uniformity of an entire street needs something to standout. while the esb pays respect to the street it is something completely different and i think completely suitable. the proportions are important but a new design can give proportions as well. and glitzy maybe but it doesn't have to be. and a spar is more practical but i don't think the green sign and red christmas tree would do anything of note to the streetscape.
alan is right there is a lot of good architecture going up and gone up recently and to now while we are moving forward take this approach ( which may be used as a dangerous precedent) is crazy.
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Postby PVC King » Wed Feb 04, 2004 2:53 pm

Quote "the uniformity of an entire street needs something to standout"

It has already, Holles St Hospital is the Landmark building on the Merrion Square end, and the Dublin Mountains on the Leeson St end.

Building a pastiche facade would serve no purpose other than to admit the original mistake. I think that a new facade could be the solution but exactly what style it should take I am unsure other than it would have to be contemporary and sympathetic. If such a thing is possible.
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Postby GregF » Wed Feb 04, 2004 2:57 pm

I think it would be best then to leave the Stephenson building there keeping it's usage as offices!
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Postby phil » Wed Feb 04, 2004 3:10 pm

Originally posted by GregF
People hark on about Georgian vistas etc.....because they were designed with the most fundamental tenet of urban design, with symmetry and focal points in mind.....which is why Modernism failed at times too.


Good point Greg. Trinity College is a good example of this. In saying this the Long Library and the GMB are of very contrasting styles architecturally which face opposite each other, as are the Dining hall and the 1937 Reading Room which also face each other. I think that the ESB does not take away from the symmetry of Fitzwilliam Street. As pointed out by Diaspora focal points are provided by the Mountains at one end and Holles Street at the other end. It seems that once there is some sort of symmetry and focal points (in the Trinity example the whole of parliament square, the Camponale, the Rubrics) that the composition works.
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Postby GrahamH » Wed Feb 04, 2004 3:59 pm

It dosn't matter in the slightest what type of modern building fills this in, by definition a modern building on this scale will change the character of the area from Georgian to - well, something else.
Whether it is a sweeping glass clad structure or something clad in copper or polished granite, it matters not in the slightest if it is 'sympathetic' or not. If any modern building was to continue on this site, it should be the existing facade (which was designed not by Sam but by Arthur).
It relates to the street excellently, as do the materials used (excluding the horrendous ground floor)

Here comes the but.
I think the house facades should be rebuilt.
Why?
For one reason only, to restore the unity of the area, and not just Fitzwilliam St, but the whole Georgian character of the area.
I remember as clear as anything the first time I saw this building - it was the first time I walked around the Georgian city, an area completely alien to the rest of the generally shabby and incoherent Dublin.
I was bowled over by the manner in which no matter where you looked, there were Georgian houses lining the streets, from Merrion Street to Merrion Square, to Mount Street and then - the ESB.
And contrary to what someone mentioned earlier about the building acting as a good orientation point, I found it had the exact opposite - muddling - effect, it was like I had exited the historic area, the junction with Baggot St further confusing matters and the unity of the area was lost.
When you come up from the Green through Baggot St, past all of it's Georgians, you arrive at the junction. Look left - more Georgians. Look right - aggregate concrete. The area is destroyed.
And the route from Merrion Square, also taking in the Mount St vista, through Fitzwilliam St to the magnificent Fitzwilliam Square and further on down to Leeson St is also wrecked - with the ESB plonked mid-way, disrupting the whole flow and ruining the continuity.

The basic point is that Dublin's Georgians rely on each other for effect, to create the 'massing cliff' formation. And each street relies on it's neighbours to unify the character of the entire area.
Rebuilding the facades (not interiors etc) restores this unity and character.
At this stage its nothing to do with history, harking back, the British or anything else.
It is about architecture, and the architecture of the area in my opinion would be greatly enhanced with the reconstruction of the 16 houses' facades.
If this Geogian core had been built 5 years ago, most people would see the logic in unifying the area.
But most discussing this issue get what is essentially an architectural issue mixed up with the usual issues of being revisionist, harking back, colonialism, what is Irish etc etc
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Postby GrahamH » Wed Feb 04, 2004 4:03 pm

That's not to say the history and age of the existing stock is not important.
And the point I would make in response to the suggestion that rebuilding the houses would be an insult to the originals - I think building in a completely different manner is equally an insult, if not moreso, invading into what essentially is 'their area'.
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Postby GregF » Wed Feb 04, 2004 4:10 pm

Is'nt the Peppercannister Church a great little focal point in this area too.
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Postby Rory W » Wed Feb 04, 2004 5:28 pm

Alan D - I agree there are some good new buildings - my point was that a lot of what was built here in Dublin from the late 50s onwards was dross that will never attain attractive building status - some great stand out work, but a lot of crap as well.

And if I quote from my own posting "which we are only really starting to drag ourselves out of" - our buildings are definitely starting to improve - for example no-one will accept the early Zoe style development anymore.

Fin - "irish slave labour", please read Dublin 1660-1860 as to who built the Georgian buildings.
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Postby GregF » Wed Feb 04, 2004 5:33 pm

Aye ......there were some great Irish craftsmen who decorated these homes such as the Stapleton Brothers who were stuccadors (they were plasterers Fin)

Graham Hickey conveyed much better what I was trying to say and Rory is correct by saying that there was mainly dross built here since we rightfully gained our independence with just the few exceptions.
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Postby alan d » Wed Feb 04, 2004 5:52 pm

Well hullo to you too Rory.......beginning to feel as welcome as a fart in a spacesuit, stuck out here in cyberspace with no response. However, I take your point.

Every city though has a lot of crap, that's what makes the good stuff stand out as good

Anyway, the thing about Georgian architecture Graham is that it is simple, pared and clean like all good modernism should be. There is no reason why a new infill should conflict.
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Postby alan d » Wed Feb 04, 2004 6:12 pm

I've just been showing a group of architects from Chicago around Glasgow, the most complete example of a Victorian City to be found anywhere in the world.

A precious thing, or so you would think but before that it was a Georgian City, like Dublin and before that a medieval city.

That's the nature of cities they grow and develop and change over time........ otherwise they stagnate and become like Edinburgh.
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Postby PVC King » Wed Feb 04, 2004 6:17 pm

I'd settle for Edinburgh any day of the week
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Postby FIN » Wed Feb 04, 2004 6:26 pm

while quite nice in a backward kindq way it is very hard to get anything in the city...hence stagnate. it's a bit late now to be saying this about dublin. it's on the path to becoming a vibrant modern city so i still believe this and other thinkings along the same line will only have a detrimental effect on the city.
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Postby GregF » Wed Feb 04, 2004 6:27 pm

I was over in Glasgow last year AlanD for the Scotland V Ireland game and noticed that Glasgow is a charming city but it has got some awful high rise 60's developments plonked in fine old uniform streets.
What do you think of the newish Royal Concert Hall .....there's a fine statue to Donald Dewar there....and the Buchannan Galleries.

George Square looks great with it's City Chambers and central column; vestiges of it's Victorian past.
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