North Georgian Dublin

Re: North Georgian Dublin

Postby StephenC » Mon Jun 27, 2011 10:29 am

From today's Irish Times:

Mountjoy's fate central to city's heritage
FRANK McDONALD

Can Mountjoy Square be turned into the jewel of Dublin’s inner northside that it should be?

NOWHERE IS the casual neglect of Dublin’s northside more evident than at Mountjoy Square. With its perfect proportions, it should be one of the jewels of the northside. Instead, the central space is a mess, occupied by (among other things), a parks depot from which the Liffey Boardwalk is serviced.

The depot’s walls are scarred by graffiti, the park railings haven’t been painted for decades and one side of the square is used as a coach park – with official approval. It is impossible to imagine Merrion Square or Fitzwilliam Square being treated in such cavalier fashion. It’s obvious why – they’re on the southside.

But neither of the two southside squares is much inhabited – unlike, say, the squares of Edinburgh’s Georgian New Town. Mountjoy is, however. According to lobby group the Mountjoy Square Society, there are at least 1,000 people living on the square, in original houses or purpose-built flats.

History has not been kind to Mountjoy Square. Like the rest of Dublin’s northside Georgian core, it fell into decline after the Duke of Leinster built a new townhouse in Kildare Street, with its garden front facing what would become Merrion Square. The northside eventually became a set of tenements, suitable for Seán O’Casey’s trilogy.

The Shadow of a Gunman is unsurprisingly set on the square, as O’Casey once lived there. Arthur Guinness died in a house on the square in 1803, according to the Mountjoy Square Society. “Perhaps most notably, Mountjoy Square hosted meetings of the First and Second Dáil in 1919-1921,” it notes proudly.

“Mountjoy Square has an extraordinary history and, when it was built, was considered to be one of the finest residential squares in Europe,” says its secretary, Karin O’Flanagan, a resident since 1978. Dublin City Council needs “to create a space both for visitors and the local community which will breathe new life and pride into the square”.

By the early 1980s, when I first wrote about Mountjoy Square, only 43 of 67 houses built two centuries earlier had survived, despite the valiant efforts of Mariga Guinness, Uinseann MacEoin and others. No 50, the house Mariga bought to preserve, was later pulled down.

Since then, with the aid of urban renewal tax incentives, at least a semblance of the missing houses has been recreated. However, the new Georgian facades are not very convincing, and behind them lie shoebox flats with tall rooms that are evocative of Victorian prison cells, produced by Zoe Developments.

Nonetheless, anyone passing through Mountjoy Square now would at least get the impression that it’s intact. Previously, chunks of the south and west sides lay in ruins. The late Prof FX Martin used to avoid the square when bringing visitors into the city from Dublin airport; he didn’t want them to think it had been bombed. Now, it’s up for designation as an architectural conservation area (ACA). This would be “hugely valuable ”, says Garrett Fennell, the society’s chairman. Dublin City Council, he says, are key stakeholders, “given that they own and (mis)manage the park in the centre of the square. They also control the traffic/parking regime and deal with planning, and in particular enforcement and housing standards issues.

“They are utterly frustrating our efforts to take tangible steps in other areas of improving the square. In a mixture of indifference and inertia, they tolerate the use of the square as a commuter coach park. We were told recently that they have no plans to move the coaches from the square, despite earlier indications that they would be moved.”

It was a joke to think Dublin was being considered as a World Heritage Site for its Georgian core “when the city council allows one of its premier Georgian squares – and its only real residential Georgian square – to be used as a coach park”.

Fennell, a son of late Fine Gael TD Nuala Fennell, says if the council doesn’t start taking its responsibilities for the northside Georgian core seriously, the society will call on Unesco to “disallow the bid” for World Heritage Site designation. “It is a complete joke to think that Dublin is being pushed for [this status] while the city council itself is guilty of wanton neglect of that Georgian heritage.”

The society has said that, unless the council commits itself to improvements, it should cede control of the park to the Office of Public Works, which maintains St Stephen’s Green to a very high standard.

At a meeting with society members last February with 13 council officials, chief planning officer Dick Gleeson said that, despite much investment in the inner city during the boom years, “the north Georgian core had been obdurate in its resistance to a strategic uplift”, according to the minutes.

Heritage officer Charles Duggan saw ACA designation as potentially “an important step in Georgian parts of Dublin achieving World Heritage Site status”, while Charlie Lowe of the Parks Department agreed the location of its depot in the square was “not optimal” – although it would be “difficult to relocate”.

As for removing the coach park, the society was later informed by Tim O’Sullivan, executive manager of the roads and traffic department, that this had been rejected by members of the north inner city area committee in March on the basis that there should be “an examination of options on a citywide basis” for storing private coaches.

The National Transportation Authority had “indicated a willingness to consider funding coach parking facilities”, and there would be a “policy review”. When this was done, “we will be developing specific proposals for new coach parking facilities, which should allow for the removal or reduction of coach parking in the more sensitive areas of Dublin”.

There is some hope. Under Gleeson, an inter-departmental group has been set up to tackle the challenge of “repositioning the north Georgian core . . . in the life of the inner city”. And this is to involve a “strategic top-down and an inventive bottom-up approach”, with an input from residents.

The “down-at-heel” north Georgian core, so much at odds with Dublin’s aspirations to be a “creative, smart knowledge city”, may finally be rescued. But the challenge “is so great that it will require many layers of intervention, requiring the creative collaboration of all stakeholders, city council departments and relevant city institutions”.
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Re: North Georgian Dublin

Postby StephenC » Fri Mar 23, 2012 2:41 pm

Dublin City Council recent made moves to designate Mountjoy Square as an ACA. The public consultation period on the Draft Plan closed on 21st March (sorry meant to flag this beforehand but the variation process slipped up on many people somewhat). You can view the Draft ACA report here http://www.dublincity.ie/Planning/Dubli ... tPlan.aspx
A few issues arise in my mind (shared by the local residents group and Dublin Civic Trust). Cheif among these is the very limited boundary of the proposed ACA, which cuts through many of the important and intact surrounding streets (Upper Gardiner, Belvedere Place, Gardiner Place) depriving them of ACA protection. Further info on the ACA can be found at www.dublincivictrust.ie/news

Came across this report of the City Architects Blog...worth a look. Great work from two talented architecture grads working with DCC last year. http://www.dublincity.ie/Housing/CityAr ... D-DCC_2010.

In fairness to the City Architects Division, they take a more upbeat view of the area's future then their (ever cautious) colleagues in Planning.
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Re: North Georgian Dublin

Postby StephenC » Fri Mar 23, 2012 3:06 pm

Local Mountjoy Square Society may be of interest to those concerned at how the area develops http://mountjoysquaresociety.com/
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Re: North Georgian Dublin

Postby StephenC » Fri Jun 15, 2012 1:43 pm

It may have been missed, given the absence of announcement from the City Council, but Mountjoy Square and its (very immediate) environs were declared an Architectural Conservation Area by variation of the City Development Plan on 14th May 2012. The final ACA document can be read here:

http://www.dublincity.ie/Planning/Dubli ... dopted.pdf

Despite a number of good quality submissions (all generally ignored by the Council), and many of which raised the issue of very limited boundary area of the ACA, the all important red line was not amended and the ACA boundary incpororates only the houses onto the square and their gardens/lands to the rear, effectively sundering important and largely intact streets, such as Belevedre Place and Gardiner Place, in two.

Whether the designation means anything in our debased city is another point. Similar designations on O'Connell Street, Grafton Street, Thomas Street and Environs and Capel Street have failed miserably to effect any meaningful improvement in standards in these areas.
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Re: North Georgian Dublin

Postby StephenC » Wed Jun 27, 2012 1:44 pm

The recent programme for Dublin Garden Squares Day, organised by Dublin Civic Trust, afforded a wonderful opportunity to explore the many delights of the city's north Georgian squares and their connecting streets. The phrase "hidden gems" has become rather hackneyed of late...our city seems to be full of under-discovered and under-appreciated delights, many of them falling into rack and ruin! However, on Parnell and Mountjoy Squares many of the delights of Dublin are plain for all to see; wonderful evocative Georgian streetscapes, stately public buildings and a surprising wealth of cultural attractions.

The highlights of the north city events for me were surely the stunning Rococo chapel of the Rotunda Hospital; that former epicentre of skullduggery, the chamber of the now defunct Dublin County Council at No. 11 Parnell Square; and the beautifully restored apartments of No. 46 Mountjoy Square (and I think everyone on that tour felt very privileged to see inside such beautifully restored homes).

However, anyone walking and exploring the area with the eye of a visitor on Saturday could not but despair at the poor condition of so many of the area's historic buildings and the general lack of care and vision for the public realm. The north Georgian city needs an action plan, built around a clear vision of the area as an historic jewel in the city centre.

The palpable potential of the buildings on Palace Row to develop as Dublin's equivalent of the V&A was alluded to by the architect James Kelly on his tour. That most of the north side of Parnell Square is in State ownership makes this vision all the more achievable.

Meanwhile, the sterling work of the Mountjoy Square Society must be commended as they seek to rejuvenate and restore what is arguably the greatest of the city's 18th century squares. The image of "conservation pioneers", raised in the recent BBC series 'The Secret History of Streets' http://www.open.edu/openlearn/whats-on/ ... ur-streets has great resonance here in Dublin. The north Georgian city needs pioneers as much as it needs the active engagement of Dublin City Council and other agencies.
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Re: North Georgian Dublin

Postby StephenC » Sun Jul 01, 2012 9:57 pm

I know its been posted so many times here before, but as ever the condition of some parts of the city centre never fails to shock me. The one surprise I found from recent walkabout of the north city area was the number of tourists about. Wandering from square to square looking for something to do...

This trompe d'oeil caught my eye:

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The quality of the stone is beautiful of course
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The water mechanism is long gone
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Re: North Georgian Dublin

Postby StephenC » Sun Jul 01, 2012 10:07 pm

The famous Parnell Square Framework Plan has long since gone, and with it any chance of a co-ordinated vision for this wonderful square. The Council are currently repaving the east side from the Gate Theatre up to the entrance to the Garden of Remembrance.

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Its been nicely laid, but its hardly the high quality granite envisaged under the Framework Plan. The idea then was to continue the paving materials used on O'Connell Street.

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The crappy streetlighting on this side of the square could surely be replaced. Its embarrassing.

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This one on the far side.

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Re: North Georgian Dublin

Postby StephenC » Sun Jul 01, 2012 10:16 pm

The north side opposite the Hugh Lane Gallery.

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And the west side

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North Frederick Street

Postby StephenC » Thu Jul 05, 2012 6:35 pm

Poor North Frederick Street. Despite its grand, and somewhat unfashionable name, the street has to be one of the most unfortunate of the great boulevards of the Gardiner estate. Yet, the street is the first impression most visitors get as they arrive in Dublin city centre.

After a journey along Dorset Street, the Aircoach/Airbus turns onto North Frederick Street and the approach to O'Connell Street.

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An over-engineered entrance into the street announcing the 30km limit. The street is impressively wide and broader pavements and trees would greatly improve this approach.

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North Frederick Street

Postby StephenC » Thu Jul 05, 2012 6:45 pm

Many of the original buildings have been butchered over the past. I cant imagine the last time a city planner was up here.



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Posted this one before
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Re: North Georgian Dublin

Postby StephenC » Thu Jul 05, 2012 6:48 pm

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Re: North Georgian Dublin

Postby StephenC » Thu Jul 05, 2012 6:53 pm

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Re: North Georgian Dublin

Postby aindriu80 » Tue Apr 16, 2013 8:29 pm

Is there a plan for this area now that it is being developed as a cultural quarter ?
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Re: North Georgian Dublin

Postby StephenC » Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:03 pm

Well the plan is the cultural quarter plan, at least for Parnell Square. What will hopefully happen is that the Library investment and renewal of the public realm around the Square will stimulate new uses and building improvements at least within this defined area.

There is also a proposal being finalised to designate Parnell Square an ACA linking to the ACA aroun Mountjoy Square. There are plans to refurbish the garden at the centre of Mountjoy Square under the Public Realm Strategy.

However, bigger thinking? big scale investment? active planning controls? I think these all remain to be pushed for.
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Re: North Georgian Dublin

Postby aindriu80 » Wed Apr 17, 2013 10:46 pm

I hope they push for a bigger scale. It looks like they were just settling on doing the pavements and uninspiring paving at that.

I was reading an article in the Irish times about street clutter and the new guidelines. Hopefully they do something inspiring with it.
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Re: North Georgian Dublin

Postby StephenC » Wed Jul 31, 2013 10:39 pm

Its the perfect time to discuss how we revitalise and reuse our Georgian city areas.

Maximising the city's Georgian heritage - Friday 13th September 2013

Dublin Civic Trust is delighted to announce a major one-day conference assessing the role and significance, past, present and future, of the historic squares of Dublin.
Placing a special emphasis on the north Georgian area of the city in collaboration with The Mountjoy Square Society, this major one-day symposium will be hosted in the magnificent environment of the former ballroom of the Assembly Rooms of the Rotunda Hospital on Parnell Square, once the focus of social life in eighteenth-century Dublin."

More details: http://www.dublincivictrust.ie/events.php
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Re: North Georgian Dublin

Postby StephenC » Thu Sep 05, 2013 4:36 pm

Dublin Civic Trust in today's Irish Times:

Dublin’s five Georgian squares could be rejuvenated Squares could be ‘cultural and social hubs’, says civic trust

Dublin could develop its answer to Amsterdam’s Museumplein, London’s Exhibition Road and even Paris’s Palais Royal through the rejuvenation of its Georgian squares, according to the Dublin Civic Trust.

The five Georgian squares are more than just historical set pieces and, particularly those on the city’s north side, are largely untapped social and economic resources, the trust said.

It will next week hold a conference to celebrate the heritage of the squares – Merrion Square, Fitzwilliam Square and St Stephen’s Green in the south city and Parnell Square and Mountjoy Square on the north side – and to ignite a new era in their development.

The conference aims to stimulate public discussion about the conservation of the squares through exploring new uses for buildings and promoting new perspectives on the role and design of their gardens and parks.

Social vitality
It also seeks to explore how the economic and social vitality of the city could be enhanced through reshaping predominantly commercial uses on the south side and widespread inadequate residential standards on the north side into world-class community and commercial centres.

“While the conference day aims to showcase the historic significance of all of the squares of central Dublin, it will place a special emphasis on the north Georgian core of the city which for too long has been overlooked as an extraordinary cultural and economic resource,” conservation research officer with the trust Graham Hickey said.

While they have been the victim of severe neglect, the buildings of the north Georgian core have more intact features than their southern counterparts because they were not “gutted” to accommodate office development to the same extent. For similar reasons, they offer greater opportunity to foster a vibrant residential community, Mr Hickey said.

“The Georgian landscape of the area north of O’Connell Street, as laid out by the Gardiner estate over a century from the early 1700s, presents a potentially outstanding host to new residential and community life in the heart of the city, and as a backdrop to major cultural institutions.”

Cultural quarter
Dublin City Council’s plans to create a cultural quarter on Parnell Square, with the city library moving to the Coláiste Mhuire building and linking up with the adjacent Hugh Lane gallery, as well as the presence of the Gate Theatre and the Writers’ Centre, give the square the potential to be a cultural hub of international standard.

“Parnell Square in particular, with its cluster of existing and future institutions, has the potential to provide a counterbalance to the museum quarter around Merrion Square – what one might term Dublin’s answer to the Palais Royal and Louvre complex in Paris, or Amsterdam’s Museumplein or London’s Exhibition Road.”

The conference takes place in the Pillar Room, the former ballroom of the Rotunda, on September 13th. Further details at dublincivictrust.ie.


Well worth the €65 if you ask me: http://www.dublincivictrust.ie/events.php

Followed by Garden Squares Day on 14th September
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Re: North Georgian Dublin

Postby StephenC » Mon Sep 23, 2013 10:24 pm

Well worth posting for those not on Twitter...

http://www.drb.ie/dublin-stories/dublin ... ing-dublin
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Re: North Georgian Dublin

Postby exene1 » Tue Sep 24, 2013 8:10 pm

Is there an author of that piece?




Just prior to the Civic Trust's Georgian Squares conference and Georgian Squares day, this was done on Merrion Square South by Dublin City Council Roads Maintenance Department:

Before:

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After:

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From Dublin City Development Plan 2011-17:

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Re: North Georgian Dublin

Postby StephenC » Wed Sep 25, 2013 9:23 am

'Programme for Restoration'
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Re: North Georgian Dublin

Postby aj » Thu Sep 26, 2013 1:57 pm

I saw the same department in work a few weeks ago in Hatch Street.

Rather than take the time to reinstate the metal tree surround it was dumped into the back of the van and the gap simply filled with tarmac.
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Re: North Georgian Dublin

Postby aj » Fri Oct 25, 2013 3:53 pm

So I was looking at the derelicts sites register

http://www.dublincity.ie/WaterWasteEnvi ... tSites.pdf

Its good to see there are now so few "derelict" building in the city.
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Re: North Georgian Dublin

Postby StephenC » Thu Feb 06, 2014 3:54 pm

At last we're starting to talk about reconverting pre-1915 houses in the city centre from office to residential. There's been a real push in thinking from State initiatives such as Living City Incentives and the Built Heritage Jobs Leverage Grants to IGS own grants scheme, just announced, to Dublin City Council initiatives such as changes to development levies and the South Georgian Core report and models.

This article in the Irish Times today

http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-styl ... -1.1675246

Its positive!
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Re: North Georgian Dublin

Postby GrahamH » Fri Feb 07, 2014 12:20 am

These are extremely worthwhile initiatives and deserving of much wider promotion.

But seriously, what a lazy, misleading article from The Irish Times.

Firstly, in a piece almost entirely about Protected Structures, the term ‘conservation architect’ wasn’t used once, the omission even extending to the Grade II services provided by the architectural practice interviewed!

Secondly, since when have Masterplan Associates been known to specialise in historic building conversions? Nabbing a ‘chocolate factory’ on Merrion Square, a handful of mews and suburban house jobs, and facilitating the likes of below hardly puts you up there as an authority on innovative solutions to Protected Structure adaptation.

A handsome set of Edwardian houses on Victoria Road in Rathgar.

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And the same houses which Masterplan Associates facilitated the omission of chimneys from in a retention application.

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Yah.

Granted, after they had already had a Todd Architects sledgehammer applied. And this in a Conservation Area! I don’t know who’s worse – the architects, the consultant planners, or the publicly employed planners. What a disaster.

The managing director of Masterplan goes on to state, as if he can’t believe his own luck: “We have never been refused permission and we’ve done lots of them,” says Kim.” “The more units you try and get, the more difficult,” Kim says. But we’ll try our darnedest for ya.

Kim also says: “You should be aware that if it’s protected it absolutely will cost you more to refurbish, as you have to use traditional construction methods”.

What a preposterous, sweeping and plainly inaccurate statement. Thanks Jong, Protector of The Heritage.

One also imagines the first year planning student’s favoured tool in the kit: “A planning search is recommended in the early days to see if anyone has been refused permission to convert before you go down the road of buying the property” – came from this direction.

Then the journalist herself, of the 'paper of record', goes on to spout cringe-inducing phrases like: “These grants can be used not just for Georgian buildings, but also protected buildings”. Imagine! There are buildings other than Geoooooorgian dolls houses that are of special interest!

She then continues: “Dublin City Council has agreed to waive development levies charges on those converting historic buildings within the South Georgian Core from commercial to residential.”

Eh, I think you’ll find that’s every Protected Structure in the entire Dublin City Council administrative area, never mind across the State. Unbelievable.

She then consolidates it with the utterly misleading case of development levies being applied to the conversion of a Victorian pile on 37 Northumberland Road from commercial to residential in 2011. If she’d even bothered to look, the grand finale of her piece would have fallen flat on its face. No.37 is a Protected Structure and therefore exempt from levies under the current regime. The current regime was introduced as part of national planning guidelines published in 2012.

The icing on the cake is asking Masterplan Associates - not the conservation architect Grade II - to notionally redesign a pair of highly significant, 1740s, former gabled-fronted Dutch Billys on St. Stephen’s Green into single family home, mixed use and multiple-unit options! They wouldn’t know a baluster from a barrister. Speaking of which, I’d better shut up.

Lord, trash like this really gets up my nose.
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Re: North Georgian Dublin

Postby StephenC » Fri Feb 07, 2014 6:13 pm

In fairness, the article, if nothing else, at least talks up the possibility of return to resi and introduces prospectives to concepts such as 'the planning system' 'conservation architects' 'protected structures' and the idea that it can be more complex than might first seem the case.

Built environment professionals can sometime labour under the impression that everyone else knows what they are talking about. That concepts of planning and heritage protection are common knowledge to other people. Its not always the case.

I fully agree that careful conservation and thoughtful adaptation will be key to the success of return to resi developments. It is of course incumbent upon professionals to advise people ethically and responsibility and imaginatively. And its essential that the local authority knows its stuff but also that it is helpful to these schemes or it will kill any nascent initiative dead.

Take your points Graham, but still think its positive that we are at least talking about this and these schemes that no one seems to know anything much about.
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