paul h wrote:
Maybe this gargantuan block of a building (bronze behemoth pictured above) is a result of the mass hysteria involving tall buildings and the inevitable refusals?
Its just a thought.
and a couple of taller slender tower type buildings , in this situation, in this area which has been pegged for higher densities, would perhaps have less impact??
That's the rational for the 32 storey Heuston Gate tower, which, unfortunately, seems to have vanished into the twilight zone. I'd be inclined to agree with you that a cluster of slender towers, in the right context, would be better than this. I'm not sure though, if we could use the term 'less impact'. It was clear from day one that there was no way this development, in it's relationship to the Royal Hospital, was ever going to be low impact.
To get planning permission in the first place, they proposed a relatively low, staggered, semi-transparent pair of blocks (6A & 6B) as the interface between this proposed new 'urban quarter' and the formal gardens below the primary north evevation of the Royal Hospital. The 'Heuston Framework Plan'
, which paved the way for this development, set out some guidelines which seemed reasonable at the time, but now look quite foolish. One specific guideline was that the development of the Eircom site (as it then was) should not encroach on a minor vista from the corner of the Royal Hospital building to the tiny cupola on the Royal Infirmary in the Phoenix Park, more than half a mile away, (you can hardly see it, to the left of the cranes, in this photograph). That's the reason for the staggered set-back of blocks 6A and 6B as originally proposed and it ruined the possibility of creating a strong urban edge to the formal gardens, which, in my opinion, the formal gardens could easily have handled. A stronger edge here would have 'contained' the development beyond, and reduced the type of jarring impact that the likes of the bronze block are likely to create.
Although I didn't agree with the original relationship, the current proposal bizarrely replaces only one half of the original interface with the gardens by sticking in this 4 - 13 storey bronze block in the place of block 6B (and block 5), while leaving it's twin, block 6A alone! Again the western elevation of the bronze block is splayed to preserve the sight line to the Infirmary, at the expense of an orthogonal relationship with the Royal Hospital and the formal gardens.
The planner's report seeking additional information on the original development, 5 or 6 years ago, pointed out that the Royal Hospital was a 'world class 17th century building' and that any development on this site would need to raise it's game to address that standard.
As far as I'm aware, from day one, the whole HSQ development has been designed by the one practice, Anthony Reddy & associates, despite the fact that the various blocks diverge considerably in style and quality. On one level, it may be commendable that there is this variation and vitality rather than a numbing sameness to the development, but on another level, there's no excuse, on a heritage sensitive site like this, for any of the blocks not to be treated with the greatest possible skill and sensitivity.
Reddy has done other good work in the area, their Hilton hotel opposite Kilmainham Gaol, protographed here through the main gate (Richmond Tower) of the Royal Hospital, is a well regarded essay in building sensitively in a historical setting, with, as has been said before, an appropriate touch of civic grandeur. A bit of this forming a defined urban edge to the RHK formal gardens would go a long way towards settling this new 'urban quarter' at HSQ into a respectfull relationship with it's 17th century neighbour.