Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

My choice for placing a new Abbey Theatre

Same site on Abbey Street
36
14%
GPO, O'Connell Street
60
23%
Carlton Cinema, O'Connell Street
94
36%
George's Dock, Docklands
16
6%
Site of Hawkins House
46
18%
Other
8
3%
 
Total votes : 260

Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby missarchi » Mon Dec 14, 2009 1:52 am

I think a good job could be done but the post office should stay...
rising = lowering?:D
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby Yixian » Mon Dec 14, 2009 12:20 pm

cgcsb wrote:wasn't the GPO supposed to become a museum dedicated to the rising? are people forgetting that? Are people also forgetting that there isn't an internal space big enough in the GPO, so the building will have to be altered (partially reconstructed) this idea would be very damaging to the City


The museum idea has been chucked.

I hope there are some planning hurdles on which this idea can fall.

Why change the GPO at all? It doesn't need changing.. It's a beautiful building used by hundreds of people every day. Carlton cinema on the other hand...
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby cgcsb » Mon Dec 14, 2009 12:27 pm

I liked the museum idea, it was respectful to the buildings history, required no alteration of the building. For the theatre to work, some wall's have to be knocked and steel reinforcement put in place, the courtyards will have to go aswell. If this goes ahead, it'll be typical of the state of planning in Ireland. The carlton proposal gets chopped for being a bit tall, but this idea will probably get the go ahead to gut and perminantly damage a landmark building.
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby Yixian » Mon Dec 14, 2009 2:40 pm

Perhaps they could find room in the GPO for the museum without ceasing function as a post office? Maybe underground?

A museum on it's own would be 10 steps back in terms of livening up OCS.

What is the current plan for Carlton anyhow? :/
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby missarchi » Tue Dec 15, 2009 3:02 am

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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby gunter » Tue Dec 15, 2009 4:15 pm

[INDENT]The Irish Times - Saturday, December 12, 2009:
Moving Abbey to GPO would save millions, claims Cullen

[I]from Deidre Falvey, Arts Editor


THE PLAN to move the Abbey to the GPO will cost about half what moving to the docklands would have done, and will help rejuvenate O’Connell Street, the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism has said.

Martin Cullen said he planned to take a decision on whether to move the Abbey to O’Connell Street soon and estimates that relocating it in time for 2016 would cost €80 to €90 million, much less than the expected cost at George’s Dock (€150 million to €170 million), which had progressed almost to architectural competition before problems arose.[/INDENT][/I]
That's probably the thinking in a nutshell; pick the option that costs the least amount of money.

[INDENT]On the GPO’s future, he said: “I don’t want another museum there, open nine to five, then the whole bloody thing is dead. Think of the wider context of O’Connell Street and try to rejuvenate it,” he said.[/INDENT]
I'm having difficulty with the concept that the Abbey could bring life to anywhere, but leaving my baggage aside for a moment, how will any theatre-transplant remotely improve the footfall in a building that is routinely teeming with people and which would presumably attract multiples of the current visitor numbers, if it incorporated a museum content illustrating the building's pivotal position in the history of the country? How would any theatre-transplant advertise it's presence in a such an iconic building with such an iconic name, . . . . perhaps in the way that the National Gallery of Scotland recently advertised an Andy Warhol exhibition:

Image
. . . . this will send Graham over the edge :)

[INDENT]Mr Cullen said the conference of business people in Farmleigh earlier this year was “a turning point” in making the case for arts funding. “A lot of people who were expected at the economics session turned up at the cultural forum, and the place was packed out. And that made everyone sit up and start to think differently about the arts.”

The whole arts sector is “worth €10-11 billion in broadest terms to the Irish economy,” he said, and research shows half of visitors “come specifically for cultural tourism, and 18 per cent of people come to Ireland because of something they saw in a film”.[/INDENT]


So the penny has finally dropped, . . . the Arts matter - economically, . . . . Culture counts - economically, . . . . who would have even dreamt?
Now if we only had some old buildings . . .

It takes a politician to almost simultaneously . . . . . finally get the right message . . . . and then head off in the wrong direction :rolleyes:

The Abbey moving into the GPO may have started out as a well intentioned notion, but it should be starting to become apparent, on deeper reflection, that it is a hopelessly inappropriate idea that will never escape the impression that it was done to borrow stature and gravitas that doesn't belong to it, or to find a new use for a building that already has the best possible use:- it's design use.

The board of the Abbey itself should come out with a clear statement that stops this nonsense now before scarce public money is wasted on it.

OK, coming up with new ideas fosters interest in the urban debate, public engagement with architecture and bar-stool discussions on heritage etc. all of which is good, but ministers coming out with apparently quassi-official positions on loosly grasped proposals like this and then watching them slowly die over the course of years, as critical judgement is slowly brought to bear, gradually revealing the flaws in the concept, is ultimately a debilitating process that saps the energy out of the urban debate.

Why can't we have some critical judgement up-front?

We've got all these official bodies and academic institutes with supposed expertise in matters like this, why don't we ever hear from them? . . . . . outfits like the Heritage Council, the Urban Institute, the RIAI etc. etc.?
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby Yixian » Tue Dec 15, 2009 4:24 pm

Further proof we need a strong, elected Mayor of Dublin. Someone like Ciaran Cuffe.

Exactly how set in stone is this? It's starting to get a bit beyond a joke now..
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby cgcsb » Tue Dec 15, 2009 8:32 pm

this is crazy, the minister supports this? how many plays does the current Abbey have on per day? 1?2? sometimes none? and pretty much always on evenings.
Is there room for a theatre space in the GPO? obviously not.
Does it already have a useful function that attracts people in their thousands? Yes.

So this plan will save the government some money, but destroys a landmark building of national importance and creates a tumble weed affect on south O'Connell street. WOW!

we need a mayor now, a face that can be identified, and someone who can be hung, drawn and quartered if needs be.
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby rumpelstiltskin » Tue Dec 15, 2009 9:13 pm

Ok, so it'll cost a bit more money to build it in the docks. But look at all the European cities building amazing new structures for things like this, like the Opera house in Oslo, and the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen. This is just about he fustiest option imaginable for the Abbey Theatre. It ought to be making a bold statement about the dynamic future of the Irish arts, and instead it'll be in a drab wood-panelled neo-classical building. I think moving it to Upper O'Connell St. would be great, but in the absence of cash couldn't they just buy the Libeskind building and put it in there?

And how come nobody thinks that it might be important to retain the site of the original Abbey so that the original theatre can be reconstructed at some time when there's enough money for it? Maybe they could play all the old crap in that theatre, and turn the new one into something a bit more contemporary.
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby missarchi » Wed Dec 16, 2009 12:53 am

not saying poles are perfect but...

Same site on Abbey Street 21 12.65%
GPO, O'Connell Street 34 20.48%
Carlton Cinema, O'Connell Street 63 37.95% (can't pay rent)
George's Dock, Docklands 11 6.63% (docklands is a bit crass)
Site of Hawkins House 31 18.67%
Other 6 3.61%

I'm surprised Dublin does not have enough capacity with all these new buildings? libe,the keg ?
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby spoil_sport » Wed Dec 16, 2009 1:28 am

"Mr Cullen said the conference of business people in Farmleigh earlier this year was “a turning point” in making the case for arts funding"

Here in lies the crux of the matter... business people. Who could possibly be less qualified to recognise what is good for the arts; like putting two A list actors in a crap movie, its just not going to save it.
When I read it first, I assumed it was just one of those things, it would all blow over, it would be forgotten about in a year, but now for once I find myself worried that it WILL actually happen; and worst of all, the possibility that it will just be given to an office like STW, or even done "in house" by the OPW.

If it does happen, let's hope it at least goes to an open competition (as opposed to the ESB kind) so that some bright spark might propose some tasteful way of doing it (of which I'm sure there is)
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby missarchi » Wed Dec 16, 2009 5:15 am

why was the ISFC considered in the first if you can't even take photos?
reminds me of another basket case...
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby PVC King » Wed Dec 16, 2009 8:24 am

rumpelstiltskin wrote: but in the absence of cash couldn't they just buy the Libeskind building and put it in there?


My thinking is not that different except that why buy the GC Square building when a formal hire agreement could be entered into for x number of days per year. As a rehearsal space the existing theatre is perfectly adequate and a share of the GC Square building could work perfectly if the plays were put together on its existing site with the final rehearsals and performances taking place in GC Square or around the country and World in other theatres. Surely the priority is that the National Theatre company produce the best quality plays and that the resources go into exactly that.
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby GhostWriter » Thu Dec 17, 2009 5:11 pm

In 2008 as part of a discussion with Senator David Norris the School of Architecture at DIT - Bolton Street undertook an analysis of 4 key sites in relation to a speculative brief for the Abbey Theatre. The brief was close to what might be considered viable. The 4 sites, The Carlton Cinema, the existing site, George's Dock and the GPO were all considered. Comparative studies were undertaken using over 100 theatres world wide and the sites were themselves subject to design studies.
Some samples of the work can be found here.
http://four.dublinschoolofarchitecture.com/galleryAbbey/index.html
For the record
The GPO can take the Abbey Theatre
The GPO as you see it today is not the same GPO of 1918
Most of the buildings (offices) to the rear of the facade are Edwardian
An innovative design to take account of a museum, shopping a post office along with the theatres is possible and would contribute to 24/7 activities on the street
This information was conveyed to the interagency committee responsible for deliberating over the site (under the auspices of the OPW).
The detailed analysis of the various sites was also issued to the OPW in a PDF format.
The city is re-written over the same ground through many generations, nothing stays the same. Some things persist and the city is better for it but what has persisted form the GPO is its arcade, the rest is myth.
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby Devin » Thu Dec 17, 2009 6:02 pm

David Norris and Fintan O'Toole were fighting over this again this morning on Pat Kenny:
http://www.rte.ie/radio1/podcast/podcast_patkenny.xml
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby gunter » Thu Dec 17, 2009 6:29 pm

GhostWriter wrote:. . . . what has persisted form the GPO is its arcade, the rest is myth.


by 'it's arcade' I hope you mean the portico. The GPO Arcade is an entirely different kettle of fish.

I don't think anyone was suggesting that we start some kind of Francis Johnson Trust to cherish the lost innards of the GPO

GhostWriter wrote:The GPO can take the Abbey Theatre
The GPO as you see it today is not the same GPO of 1918


Not much to dispute in either of those statements, it's just a question of whether the city gains anything by implanting a new [potentially exciting] 'national' theatre building into the external envelope of an existing 'national monument' building.

The GPO is the 'ground zero' of modern Irish history, you couldn't devise a better location for an exhibition/museum space dedicated to telling the story of the pivitol events that took place in this very building. Add to this that the existing building is more than capable of retaining it's perfectly satisfactory existing original function in conjunction with imaginatively re-designed courtyards and exhibition spaces and we have, near enough, the perfect combination of location, structure and function.

GhostWriter wrote:An innovative design to take account of a museum, shopping, a post office along with the theatres is possible and would contribute to 24/7 activities on the street


Again it's the 'theatres' bit that seems forced and unnecessary to me. I wouldn't have a problem with a small scale theatre as an ancilliary use thrown into the mix, but I doubt that this is what the Abbey would have in mind.

GhostWriter wrote:This information was conveyed to the interagency committee responsible for deliberating over the site (under the auspices of the OPW).


Yeah, the ''inter-agency-committee'', address: sleepy hollow :rolleyes:
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby kevin dillon » Thu Dec 17, 2009 7:35 pm

i agree with everything gunter mentioned in his last post. I really believe that there are only two best options for the Abbey. Either it is relocated on the Carlton site or (and this is my favourite option) stay at it's existing location but jump the lane and have it's main entrance facing south onto the river. The Peacock and secondary entrance can address Abbey street and Marlbourough street.

The Liffey quays are the city's primary urban feature. And it needs to be reinforced. Carefully. Im not advocating any particular design and not necessarily demolition of existing buildings facing the quayside. But surely a well designed (via arch competition) solution would provide another jewel along the quays (albiet smaller than the scale of the Fourcourts or Custom house).

Another great public building spilling onto the quays. And of course the quays should eventually become more pedestrian friendly and traffic calmed. I understood the Port tunnel was the key to open up new possibilities of calming and slowing down vehicular movement along the river. And i also remember a few years ago DCC discussed the need to develop a detailed framework plan for the river corridor (The goal being to reinforce, amplify and consolidate it's urban character and quality as the primary urban element of the city centre.)

Maybe i'm missing something?
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby PVC King » Thu Dec 17, 2009 9:23 pm

I totally agree the natural home of the Abbey has to be where it has always been; but we are in the middle of a period of fiscal rectitude. If the GPO proposal were to proceed what would the opportunity cost be to the rest of the Arts budget?

Retention of the existing as a base combined with doing the site assembly on Eden Quay to expand at a future time is the way forward. In the interim the new Liebskind theatre at GC Square clearly can provide a capacity that the GPO would unless obliterating the existing fit out struggle to match.

The key priority is it is felt that the Theatre continue to develop and nuture emerging Irish talent and to do that it needs to be funded in a way that ensures key staff retention not a large interest bill to fund a large capital project.
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby fergalr » Thu Dec 17, 2009 11:56 pm

kevin dillon wrote:i agree with everything gunter mentioned in his last post. I really believe that there are only two best options for the Abbey. Either it is relocated on the Carlton site or (and this is my favourite option) stay at it's existing location but jump the lane and have it's main entrance facing south onto the river. The Peacock and secondary entrance can address Abbey street and Marlbourough street.

The Liffey quays are the city's primary urban feature. And it needs to be reinforced. Carefully.

Maybe i'm missing something?


Eden Quay is a shithole populated by junkies and dealers and frequently smells of exhaust fumes and urine?

The Hawkins House suggestion is a fine one and only a hop, skip and a jump across the river directly opposite the current site.
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby GrahamH » Thu Dec 17, 2009 11:56 pm

Redevelopment of the Abbey on the current site is too much of a lost opportunity. Yes it has historical resonances, but as it can never address the Liffey on account of the protected Georgian building (yellow block), probably by the Wide Streets Commissioners, it would have to face Abbey Street - what is, and will always be, a glorified railway embankment. The frustration of being so near yet so far from the river would be too much to bear.

Far better to take a similar, but much larger, more grandly positioned equivalent on the south side of the Liffey in the form of the Hawkin's House site. This is by far the optimum solution as far as I'm concerned. All other options pale in comparison relative to the architectural, planning, social and economic gains - resulting in major gains for the arts - derived from this location.

I encourage everyone to look at GhostWriter's link of proposed design options for the GPO site, and absorb the astounding - if nonetheless unsurprising - arrogance of architecture students and what they are taught. Every one of the 'solutions' proposes whacking all 1920s additions, effectively the entire modern-day GPO, encompassing Dublin's only proper shopping arcade, a grandiose, unified purpose-built office and retail elevation to Henry Street, a gracious office elevation to Prince's Street, and the two courtyards - leaving nothing but Johnston's facade and 'arcade' standing. One even proposes the complete removal of the main Public Office!

No wonder the GPO 'works'. As for the Carlton proposals...

It's such a shame that such obvious talent is so often mis-directed in student work, where they appear almost encouraged to completely disregard context, planning legislation, and basic urban principles. Yes, it's important to get the creative juices flowing, but what's the point with important and supposedly pragmatic, demonstrative exercises such as this? Nonetheless, there are some extremely nice concepts amongst the outlandish stuff in there.
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby jesus_o_murchu » Fri Dec 18, 2009 12:01 am

get rid of bank of ireland on college green and stick the Abbey there. the bank is just a waste of space.
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby fergalr » Fri Dec 18, 2009 12:05 am

jesus_o_murchu wrote:get rid of bank of ireland on college green and stick the Abbey there. the bank is just a waste of space.


Are we so afraid of modern buildings in this country that we have to transplant this theatre into an old one with columns?
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby GrahamH » Fri Dec 18, 2009 12:07 am

In the case of the Bank of Ireland, I think we'd safely win most I've more columns that you have comparisons.

Do engaged columns count I wonder?
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Re: Abbey Theatre to be located in the GPO

Postby rumpelstiltskin » Fri Dec 18, 2009 12:09 am

fergalr wrote:Eden Quay is a shithole populated by junkies and dealers and frequently smells of exhaust fumes and urine?

The Hawkins House suggestion is a fine one and only a hop, skip and a jump across the river directly opposite the current site.


Eden Quay shouldn't be a shithole, but you seem to be suggesting that it should be left as it is instead of improved. There needs to be a master plan for the entire stretch of quays on both sides from O'Connell Bridge to the Customs House, ideally involving pedestrianising the whole stretch. A new Abbey Theatre would be an ideal contribution to this process of improvement.
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