Leinster House, National Museum & Library complex

Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby alonso » Thu Sep 18, 2008 3:56 pm

if only we had someone of Haughey's vision to spend tens of millions on it while the economy was in shite eh?
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby notjim » Thu Sep 18, 2008 4:03 pm

You mean while construction costs are low?
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby alonso » Thu Sep 18, 2008 4:48 pm

ah touché
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby GrahamH » Thu Sep 18, 2008 5:22 pm

:)

gunter, it is a common perception that most of the Dáil Chamber dates to the 1890s, when in fact the vast majority of it dates to the conversion of 1924-1926. All of the furnishings were purpose-made for parliament, and the lecture theatre throughly altered. Little other than the columns and railings (much reproduction) remains.

Rather than rehearsing some details I'll just paste this link to an older thread:

http://www.archiseek.com/content/showthread.php?t=5325

(frightening that was two years ago - seems like last week).

There are some extraordinary photographs of the lecture theatre from 1922-1924 with an enormous and extremely dubious temporary platform structure raising the entire floor level to that of lower balcony level shown here (1890s).

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A railing of industrial proportions protected the Ceann Comhairle from plunging to a certain death on the floor below.

I would also just add that prior to the erection of the ravishing curtain and ill-proportioned timber panelling and doors at journo gallery level, there were once two handsome mahogany doorcases with lintel tops supported by scrolled brackets. It looks like these were removed in the 1930s in favour of the current arrangement.

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I absolutely agree that any new parliament building on the Lawn must have dignity of purpose and host both Houses. There is little point otherwise. A glorifed office block, however well designed, would fall flat in the context of what would be lost, while also completely defeating the purpose of giving architectural expression to parliament. Exactly the same situation as at present would ensue - a compromised white elephant would become the public face while parliament continued to be conducted in a converted shed out the back.

I would propose moving the entire lower Dáil ensemble to an elegant contemporary setting within the new building. It would require real ingenuity, and have the potential to be absolutely spectacular.
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby SunnyDub » Thu Sep 18, 2008 7:51 pm

I don't like the modern parliament chambers either, european parliament & scottish parliament chambers leave me cold, give me the House of Commons with everyone packed in any day. :)
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby gunter » Thu Sep 18, 2008 9:30 pm

Rory W wrote:Er - other than the fact it has been our parliament since 1922 then no nothing interesting has happened there (akin to saying nothing interesting has happened at westminster since the germans bombed it but hey-ho)


OK, on mature reflection, it was wrong of me to be dismissive of our public representatives and their acivities in de house, but if we look at our school history books, most of the momentous stuff, Grattan's parliament, the first Dail etc., took place in the other buildings mentioned. To me, this fact gives us the opportunity to consider the creation of an entirely new building, an opportunity that other countries, with purpose built parliament houses, don't have, or would never need.

Remember, the idea (not mine) of a new purpose built parliament house, came about as an alternative to the major structural interventions that, it was reported, Leinster House may require to keep it functioning as the Oireachtas, you know, moving forward.

And OK it was also wrong of me to refer to our elected representatives as 'culchies', when perhaps little over half of them are actual culchies.

GrahamH wrote:
gunter, it is a common perception that most of the Dáil Chamber dates to the 1890s, when in fact the vast majority of it dates to the conversion of 1924-1926. All of the furnishings were purpose-made for parliament, and the lecture theatre throughly altered. Little other than the columns and railings (much reproduction) remains.



I didn't know that Graham.

You're probably right that the current Dail chamber has significant architectural merit in it's own right, I had never thought of it that way. The mahogany always reminded me of a court room and the blue carpet, if it smelled of popcorn, I'd say cinema.

I do like your last idea: relocate the good parts of the Dail chamber to a new parliament house on Leinster Lawn, This would have the added benefit of uncluttering the south wing of Leinster House and maybe increase the connection possibilities between the National Museum on Kildare Street and the Natural History Museum on Merrion Street.

The possibilities with this idea are just endless.

If this gets off the ground, it will elevate johnglas to guru status!

Are we ready for this?:)

P.S. Is that a futuristic robot, or a prototype espresso machine in your b&w photo?
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby alonso » Thu Sep 18, 2008 9:57 pm

SunnyDub wrote:I don't like the modern parliament chambers either, european parliament & scottish parliament chambers leave me cold, give me the House of Commons with everyone packed in any day. :)


some of the ones pictured don't seem to have sides facing each other either. Sure that's nonsense. How does one wag ones finger, wave one's briefing or roll ones eyes in full view of the speaker if the adversarial nature of the political game is designed out?
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby Peter Fitz » Fri Sep 19, 2008 12:51 pm

Interesting shot of the original layout Graham, it all looks a bit precarious !

GrahamH wrote:I would propose moving the entire lower Dáil ensemble to an elegant contemporary setting within the new building. It would require real ingenuity, and have the potential to be absolutely spectacular.


Would definitely agree with that. Any modern chamber i've seen really has little to recommend itself - I'm just not convinced that we would end up with anyting better than the lower layout we have now should it be decided to go down the road of entirely new build. Saving the lower portion and setting in a completely new context would get my vote :D

Here's Canberra ( I hate the notion of political capitals )

Image

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Given Ireland's history, its probably one of few chambers in Europe that dates from the early 1900's. Most European states have the benefit of long established parliament houses with lavish chambers.

Whatever happens, the area between Leinster House, National Museum & the National Library needs to be re-designed & returned to the city ! And as usual, the London Planes out front have to go.
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby johnglas » Fri Sep 19, 2008 1:22 pm

Interesting that Canberra has chosen the 'compromise' model with both opposing and semi-circular banches, but both chambers look sterile and are too 'exploded' - you need intimacy (don't we all!) while ensuring public access.
It's not true, incidentally, that 'most' European countries have very ancient parliamentary chambers - most states were autocracies with little need for parliaments or assemblies; only after the Revolution of 1789 did France get one (and in spite of what Westminster thinks, modern democracy stems form France and America) - even Westminster dates only from the 1840s (Barry and Pugin). There are very few European countries with a continual history of democracy since their founding: Belgium, Norway, Finland and, of course, Ireland (possibly Switzerland, but that's a very special case). So, the Dail chamber does matter and it's important to conserve it or the spirit of it.

The guru (gunter, how could you!?).
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby GrahamH » Fri Sep 19, 2008 1:35 pm

johnglas wrote: even Westminster dates only from the 1840s (Barry and Pugin).


1840s/1940s :)

Canberra's lower house is nonetheless quite pleasant in spite of its vacuousness, with effective use of colour and materials. If ever one wanted to experience the workings of parliament from inside a giant Aero bar, this is the place to be.
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby gunter » Fri Sep 19, 2008 4:50 pm

johnglas wrote:
The guru (gunter, how could you!?).


Sorry johnglas, I just don't want people to forget that this was your idea.

. . . so if it all goes horribly wrong, and a future tribunal determines that we could have got four new acute hospitals, or 90 miles of Luas track, for the same money, we'll know who to blame! :)

Anyway, can't hang about, 'culture night' is upon us and there's free stuff to be had.
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby johnglas » Fri Sep 19, 2008 8:18 pm

GrahamH: yes, of course; but The Greatest Englishman (sic) Who Has Ever Lived, Ever (Sir Winston Churchill, that is) wanted the Commons chamber to be reinstated in its antebellum state - how far they actually did this, I'm not sure.
gunter: Here we don't have 'culture night', but we do have Doors Open Day this weekend.
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby Peter Fitz » Fri Sep 19, 2008 10:11 pm

Johnglas wrote:Interesting that Canberra has chosen the 'compromise' model with both opposing and semi-circular banches, but both chambers look sterile and are too 'exploded' - you need intimacy (don't we all!) while ensuring public access.


Exactly. Opposing benches, tiering & intimacy all essential elements.

[quote="johnglas"]
It's not true, incidentally, that 'most' European countries have very ancient parliamentary chambers - most states were autocracies with little need for parliaments or assemblies]

Point taken! Wasn't referring to democratic chambers of parliament necessarily but chambers / lecture halls that existed for one reason or another & could be easily adapted.

The French National Assembly in the Palais Bourbon, fairly typical example - adapted in the 1830's

Image

Madrid

Image

Rome

Image
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby johnglas » Fri Sep 19, 2008 11:56 pm

Gobsmacking! Interesting that all of these adopt a semi-circular 'Roman' model - more a theatre than an assembly. I think one of the great strengths of both the Commons and the Dail (and the new Scottish parliament) is that it is the Speaker (by whatever name s/he is known) and not just whoever happens to be the head of government for the time being who dominates (presides). All politicians must address the assembly from their seat and are therefore 'equal'. So, it is the assembly, representing the people, which is dominant, not 'the leader'.
These 'theatre' semi-circuses provide a podium from which to grandstand. 'C'est magnifique, mais est-ce la democratie?' But they are magnificent, aren't they!?
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby lostexpectation » Sat Sep 20, 2008 4:44 pm

and the most bipolar parliament has the most circular room

Image


look at those ceilings in madrd and france

what does out ceiling look like?
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby Peter Fitz » Sun Sep 21, 2008 5:04 pm

May as well throw in the commons chamber, again the upper reaches are rarely seen, its all quite fussy up there, given the simplicity of the layout below ...

Image

Agreed about the commons & dail layouts johnglas, though i think the "U" or Horse Shoe type layout works best ... making it possible for all members of the opposition to directly face the head of government & have a good shouting match. The directly opposing benches & facing dispatch boxes do make for good political theatre, but i wouldn't like to be the lib dems shoved down the end !



The new welsh chamber is definitely worth a mention -

Odd circular layout, better suited to a comittee room type setup than a debating chamber i would have thought.

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The fairly plain chamber floor gives way to a spectacular undulating funnel that runs through the heart of the building providing natural light to the chamber itself.

Image

Image

As with many other modern chambers so much effort seems to go in to the roof structure - all well & good but at eye level bland walls & surfaces pervade - bundesstag, canberra, welsh assembly, european parliament all cases in point.
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby fergalr » Sun Sep 21, 2008 5:31 pm

It looks less brilliant from the outside. I remember hearing comments that it looks like an inflated community centre :p
Anyone know any good books on parliamentary architecture? It's an interest of mine but doesn't particularly seem to be one indulged by publishers.
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby lostexpectation » Sun Sep 21, 2008 10:07 pm

where are the offices in/for the welsh chamber?
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby johnglas » Sun Sep 21, 2008 10:24 pm

I think we've hit on an interesting thread here; there is a great deal of guff (imo) about 'transparency', which is interpreted in an architectural way by having big windows and seeing 'into' the assembly chamber (council or parliamentary), but of course you are seeing only the front, not the back, where the real horsetrading is done. The U-shape allows for both consensus and confontation, the C-shape mainly for haranguing and grandstanding, while the O-shape can perform much the same function as the U (note that even the Welsh assembly has a definite visual focus in the president's chair), although I think it's more suited to council chamber. The I-I shape of the Commons is too particular and dated. (I agree PeterFitz that the upper stages are fussy, but the woodwork is superb.)
I like noisy and rumbunctious chambers; maybe it's all theatre, but just occasionally it does work (remember Geoffrey Howe's quiet demolition of Thatcher?).
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby Peter Fitz » Mon Sep 22, 2008 8:45 am

[quote="johnglas"]
I like noisy and rumbunctious chambers]

Few as noisy & rumbunctious as the commons! would often find myself watching pmq's just for the entertainment value. Its a shame our own government has to hide behind scripted questions & answers. There's been a few such occassions in the Dail, the verbal demolition of Albert Reynolds stands out, a sustained 30 minute attack by Mary Harney in particular (not sure he deserved it in hindsight) & the theatre of labour physically crossing the house live on tv.
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby lostexpectation » Tue Sep 23, 2008 11:08 pm

to answer my own question it looks like there a five minute walk between the welsh fancy parliament and their offices.
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby Rory W » Wed Sep 24, 2008 11:55 am

lostexpectation wrote:to answer my own question it looks like there a five minute walk between the welsh fancy parliament and their offices.


It's not a parliament - it's an assembly

"My school used to have an assembly" - which was the line I used in Cardiff last time I was over there ;)
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby Rory W » Wed Sep 24, 2008 11:57 am

On a serious note though - if we are going to have the dail and seanad out for a few years, why not use the European Hall and St Patricks Hall in Dublin Castle as a temporary Dail whilst Leinster House is restored
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby Peter Fitz » Wed Sep 24, 2008 1:40 pm

Rory W wrote:why not use the European Hall and St Patricks Hall in Dublin Castle as a temporary Dail whilst Leinster House is restored


That would make sense alright, sufficient space & adequate security.
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby fergalr » Wed Sep 24, 2008 9:49 pm

Let's leave them there. The Castle would be a fantastic location for a parliament.
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