Academy of Urbanism awards

Academy of Urbanism awards

Postby Devin » Wed May 02, 2007 11:38 pm

Eyre Square nominated for major award
Frank McDonald, Environment Editor

After all the hue and cry about its controversial face-lift, Eyre Square in Galway has now been nominated for the Academy of Urbanism's Great Place award - in competition with Meeting House Square in Dublin's Temple Bar.

Eyre Square is described as the place "Galway was built around . . . given a new lease of life in the 21st century" in guidance notes circulated to academy members, while Meeting House Square is described as "part of Temple Bar's sequence of streets and spaces".

The other contenders are Brighton Beach; the South Bank, Exmouth Market and Duke of York Square in London; Exchange Square in Manchester; the Quayside in Newcastle; Royal Exchange Square in Glasgow; and the Winter Gardens in Sheffield.

Two Irish towns - Armagh and Kilkenny - are in contention for the academy's Great Town award with Brecon, in Wales; Cheltenham, Huddersfield, Malmesbury and Winchester, in England; and Inveraray and St Andrews, in Scotland.

The main streets of Ireland's two largest cities - O'Connell Street, Dublin, and Donegall Place/Royal Avenue, Belfast - have been nominated for the Great Street award. Other contenders include Glasgow's Buchanan Street and London's Regent Street.

For the Great Neighbourhood award, Temple Bar has made the cut, but it's up against stiff competition from Castlefields in Manchester, Soho and Shad Thames in London, Stockbridge in Edinburgh, and Rope Walks in Liverpool, among others.

The principal award, European City of the Year, will go to one of 10 contenders - Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Budapest, Graz, Helsinki, Istanbul, Lyon, Stockholm and Turin. Dublin made last year's shortlist, but lost out to Edinburgh.

St Stephen's Green was a finalist for the 2006 Great Place award, but it went to Borough Market in London.

The other winners last year were Ludlow (Great Town), Merchant City, Glasgow (Great Neighbourhood) and Marylebone High Street, London (Great Street).

The 2007 nominees will be whittled down to three finalists in each category at the academy's nominations dinner in the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, on May 24th.

Every shortlisted nominee with then be visited before the winners are selected in November.

All will be judged by academy members on the basis of a number of key criteria, including governance, local character and distinctiveness, user friendliness, functionality, commercial success and viability, and environmental and social sustainability.

Formed in 2006, the Academy of Urbanism of Great Britain and Ireland brings together a group of thinkers and practitioners involved in the social, cultural, economic, political and physical development of cities, towns and villages throughout both islands.

The academy's theme, Space, Place, Life, is to be explored at a conference in Dublin Castle on May 24th, jointly organised by the Urban Forum. Speakers will include architects Seán O'Laoire and Sir Terry Farrell, and Dublin city planner Dick Gleeson.

The conference will be preceded by a study tour of Belfast, to see its recent transformation by the "peace dividend", and will be followed by walking tours of Dublin city centre and the docklands area.

Further details from info@academyofurbanism.org.uk

• Frank McDonald is a founder member of the Academy of Urbanism and is its writer in residence.

© The Irish Times - April 28, 2007
Good to see the new Eyre Square being nominated in this. Now the buildings around the square need attention - improvement of shopfront design, reinstating of architectural character in older buildings and protection against bad rooflines.

Kilkenny needs more restriction on cars in the centre. It's not quite as bad as some towns, but enough to detract from the place.

Despite there being a long way to go in the improvement of its use culture, and its total failure on the cycling front, O'Connell Street deserves a mention because it's so much more pleasant to walk and hang around there than it used to be.

The crowds now around the South Bank in London are amazing since the Millennium Bridge, the two new Hungerford pedestrian bridges, the Eye & Tate Modern.

As somewhere that isn't mentioned above, would the Italian Quarter in Dublin be worthy of a new 'great place'? - civilised outdoor eating and drinking in the summer … none of the vomit & violence of Temple Bar.
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Re: Academy of Urbanism awards

Postby hutton » Thu May 03, 2007 1:55 pm

Devin wrote:would the Italian Quarter in Dublin be worthy of a new 'great place'? - civilised outdoor eating and drinking in the summer … none of the vomit & violence of Temple Bar.


I would have thought it should come out on top. For the life of me I can't see why either Meeting House Sq or O' Connell St are nominated as "Great Places" - O'C St for all the reasons I have previously listed on its own thread, while M H Sq is hardly a great place; apart from being 10 yrs+ old, when even compared to Temple Bar Sq, TB Sq seems to function much better - why was there not a retractable glass roof not buit on top, for instance? Nor am I completely convinced by Eyre Sq either - but I would like to look at it again before I make my mind up.

Wallace's mini-Italy would have been a far better nomination.
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Re: Academy of Urbanism awards

Postby gunter » Sat Dec 04, 2010 12:54 pm

Not sure what it was doing in the ‘Irishman’s Diary’ slot but Frank McDonald gave an account in Tuesday’s I.T. of bringing his Academy of Urbanism roadshow to Freiburg en-route to awarding it the ‘European City of the year 2010’, apparently this was ahead of Bordeaux and Valencia who must have passed some preliminary examination that somehow tripped up Newry.

Not that Freiburg would be that bothered, if its legendary reputation of being laid-back and quite un-German, attributed to centuries of Austrian rule, is to be believed.

Image
an over-view of Freiburg from the hills that dominate to the east

‘Architecturally unremarkable’, but full of bikes seems to have been the Academy verdict on Freiburg, along with some undefined notions about planning deriving ‘from the culture of its people’ under the aegis of a Green mayor.

What is clear when you visit Freiburg is that the city was flattened in the war and somebody [long before there was a Green mayor] took the important decision to retain as much of the essence of the place as possible in the rebuilding and that decision together with the survival of the jewel in their crown, Freiburg Minster with it’s incomparable 14th century gothic spire, laid the basis of the liveable, sustainable, city-full-of-bikes that Freiburg is today.

Image
view over central Freiburg from the spire

Image
another view down from the spire of the market. virtually all the buildings in this view are post-war, the range directly fronting the square being probably the least successful

Image
more Freiburg rooftops , south of the cathedral, where war time damage was less extensive

If we’re dissecting Freiburg’s ‘urban’ credentials, we also need to look beyond the wonders of the bicycle and Green sustainable dogma and discuss the role of that light-weight post-war architecture in the process. This architecture, though ‘unremarkable’ to use McDonald’s word, is everywhere in Freiburg and if it is undoubtedly a pale shadow of what war time bombs destroyed, simultaneously it is the vital component that stitched together the shattered fabric of the city back in the 1950s. Did the city sacrifice contemporary architectural aspiration in the decision to restore the damaged urban grain, or could they have had both, or done better if they’d sacrificed a few recreated tiled roofs for a bit more architectural testosterone?

Mistakes were made in Freiburg too, it’s not perfect, the ring road is a hostile race track that severs the link to the magnificent forested hills that directly abut the city on the east and the minor river that boarders the city to the south, and there are 70s blocks in some of the inner outskirts that wouldn’t look out of place on the Long Mile Road.

Image
an evening view of the city centre from the over-pass that is the only real pedestrian/bike link over the ring road to the wooded hills that over-look the city

But as McDonald recounts, on the big issues, like out-of-town shopping centres and consolidation the compact city, Freiburg made the right calls and today reaps the benefit of a thriving city centre with a functioning public transport system based around a comprehensive tram network. I particularly recall the whole lack of drama surrounding the extension of one of their tram routes out towards the Youth Hostel eight or nine years ago. It couldn’t have been more low key if they’d been laying a new drain, simple concrete strip foundations, a handful of construction workers, and they were knocking out 30 or 40 meters a day, all this at a time that we were putting ourselves through an emotional ringer over the proposed new Luas lines.

I’m not sure what the value of awards like this are . . . do they promote an appreciation of the principles of urbanism? . . . probably, in a small way. Do they stimulate discussion? . . . not much evidence of that.
Or are they a beauty pageant masquerading as a talent contest?

For all it’s bicycles and planning charters, would Freiburg really have been in with a shout of the title 'The European City of the Year 2010' if it didn’t have a word class medieval cathedral?
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