I despair at what’s happening on Grafton Street. Much public and media comment – the majority even – is unfair and understandably misguided as regards the cleanliness of the paving. There is no question that it looks shocking in its current raw state, but we must hold our breath and await the outcome of the abrasive cleaning and sealing later in the year (though in saying this, having to ‘seal’ a natural product is somewhat unsettling and sounds distinctly high maintenance going forward).
What there is no escaping from is the clash of the stones (there’s a film title in that), which as Peter describes, is simply ham-fisted and visually discordant. Both the colours and the textures are chaotic – chalk and cheese – and should never have been paired in the way they have, which is a shame, as they’re both distinguished in their own right. The slab sizes are also finicky, lacking in contextual understanding. The clunky ‘wayfinding strip’ just adds to the mess, and as for the trashy funerary cobbles lining the building line! What the heck?! Even the craft isn't there: the paving has been laid in awkward linear sections in attemping to respond to the curve of the street, rather than gracefully flowing with it. It looks woeful when the street is lightly populated.
The green bollards – and I concur the colour almost hits the distinguished mark – were chipping within days of installation, with the more usual battleship grey revealed from underneath. I suspect these were sprayed green as a custom job, but that as catalogue items they were never meant to be sprayed. As for the ‘design’, well, it’s not a design. There is no design. They’re a proprietary, cartoonish insult to the dignity of a major civic thoroughfare. I shudder to think what lighting is being compiled.
It’s all such a mess and it’s just not good enough. Genuinely, one desperately would like to have faith in the in-house expertise of the municipal authority to promote, demonstrate and all but curate civic design standards in the city, but dammit it just doesn't seem to be there. It’s a crying shame.