Over Use of Brick in Dublin

Over Use of Brick in Dublin

Postby Rory W » Fri Oct 01, 1999 11:51 am

I for one am sick to deat of the overuse of brick in modern buildings in the city. I live in the apartments in the IFSC and am surrounded by red brick everywhere. Whilst it is fine for a building to use brick when defering to its surroundings, in the IFSC there is no excuse, and the more I think about it, If someone wants to get planning permission, all they have to do is build it using red brick, (Can you imagine the SOM tower opposite the customs house if that was done in brick, they probably would have given it permission!!!). Can we start to use different materials, stone (esp Portland) Finished Concrete, stucco etc? Or is our Architecture going to remain brick dominated?

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Postby john white » Fri Oct 01, 1999 5:12 pm

You are so right.

To get planning pemission in Dublin/Ireland:

a. Use red brick
b. Stick a stupid clock tower on it

For extra brownie points:

c. Use crappy looking legoey plastic windows
d. Tacky looking polished granite or some other similarly plastic looking conglomerate.

Honestly, that pathetic Jury's thing and the DDFH&B joke opposite Christchurch [!!] are a crime against our meagre heritage.

"So you wanna put a building beside Christchurch eh?"

"Yep, it'll be red brick with a pointy bit and a clock tower on top - so it'll fit right in! You'll hardly be able to spot the difference between new and old."

Give me strength...

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Postby Paul Clerkin » Mon Oct 04, 1999 10:58 am

The truth is that in Ireland, brick is associated in the mind sof the people as quality. Look at the houses being built all over the countryside - large red brick boxes. Brick is something people aspire to - its not plastered concrete blocks but "quality" - money well spent.


In Dublin the developers use it for the same reason - their jerry built apartment blocks then have "quality" stamped on them. Look Busaras - derided by the ordinary man-in-the-street and believed by many to be concrete rather than portland stone.
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Postby John White » Mon Oct 04, 1999 2:23 pm

Oh, you're right there Paul. Of course a lot of people don't see the difference between beautiful old style brick with it's smaller and shallower dimensions and lovely tough glazed finish and the modern crusty looking rubbish that usually appears these days.

Am I right in thinking that all lot of new 'old brick' may simply be dyed cement? Perhaps 'distressed' with acid or something.

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Postby Rory W » Mon Oct 04, 1999 3:18 pm

Yes I think it is treated with acid or something like that for that "genuine old look". But I think I know what it really is that annoys me about the use of Brick. the Monotony of its use. Great swathes of uniform brickwork looks terrible. Just look at the apartments in Lombard Street all the same coloured brick with nothing in the way of relief, they look awful.

Its not that I have anything against brick (I think the South City Markets on Georges Street is one of the best buildings in Dublin), but why do developers make such awful use of brick (Ahh yes its boring, it will sell). Red brick looks really well when it is given some relief (the use of polychromatic designs in Victorian Houses looks great) and it breaks up the monotony, (Has anybody seen the restored brickwork on the side of the North City Markets off Capel Street - It looks really good).

If you want to see a building that has overdosed in brick, look at the apartment block south of the Kevin Street/Clambrassil Street Junction. With its tiny windows and great swathes of red brick it just looks ludicrous. Had it been rendered & finished in white paint, it would have worked. Actually since everything in that area is now finished in red brick (even the street setts are red brick) the area is beginning to resemble Mars.

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Postby John White » Mon Oct 04, 1999 5:22 pm

Ha Ha!

Yes, there's a lot of great examples of creative brickwork in Dublin. Some of it looks almost Venetian/Byzantine strangely enough. You know that great little church beside the awful imperialist looking 'Smurfitt Paribas thing' on Stephen's Green in Dublin? But even Rory, some of the common houses around North Circular Road, Phibsboro etc. All over the place!

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Postby Rory W » Tue Oct 05, 1999 2:45 pm

So I guess that "they don't build 'em like that anymore" applies. When did we stop using brick in a pleasureable way? If so why?

Rory W

Can anybody think of any decent modern brick buildings that are pleasing to the eye?
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Postby Rory W » Tue Oct 05, 1999 2:48 pm

So I guess that "they don't build 'em like that anymore" applies. When did we stop using brick in a pleasureable way? If so why?
Worst red brick building in town I think (Besides the recent lego, clock towers etc) has to go to "Liffey House" on the Tara Street/Townsend Street Junction, simply awful.

Rory W

Can anybody think of any decent modern brick buildings that are pleasing to the eye?
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Postby fiachra » Tue Oct 05, 1999 5:24 pm

Brick buildings pleasing to the eye. It can be done. Sir Michael Hopkins and Partners used brick as a structural and cladding material on the Glyndebourne Opera House project and New Inland Revenue project in the UK.
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Postby Siobhán » Wed Oct 06, 1999 3:31 pm

John: that little church you mentioned 4 postings ago is the University (ie UCD) Church. Most popular place in Dublin for weddings - the interior is incredible. I've never seen wrought iron used in such a way (you have to look up...).
Thank Cardinal Newman for that one.
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Postby john white » Wed Oct 06, 1999 6:01 pm

I'll definitely go and have a look Siobhan - thanks!

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Postby Paul Clerkin » Wed Oct 06, 1999 6:17 pm

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Postby john white » Thu Oct 07, 1999 2:52 pm

Good God!

That looks amazing. Very Byzantine. I wonder what the opening hours are?

No wonder that Chusrch is so popular for weddings. I remember in 1990 going to and from an awful job I had [Murakami Wolf Swenson Animation {?} Studio] I used to admire it. They were cleaning it with some gloopy gel stuff - splodged it all over and covered it with cling film or something for a few days. What age is the Church?

I'd like to have a look inside St. Andrews on Westland Row too, but it's usually shut in the evenings. Apparently there's an old Italian Sculptor buried there plus some Renaissance paintings which according to the little photocopied guide are of "no real interest". I'll have to see for myself.

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Postby fiachra » Thu Oct 14, 1999 5:04 pm

Brick building pleasing to the eye - the O'Donnell Tuomey designed school in Ranelagh, Dublin. Wonderful texture, nicely integrated with wood. Nice clean lines.
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Postby Jas » Thu Oct 14, 1999 5:37 pm

That is a wonderful building - its simplicity of form must have been so difficult to achieve. It manages to avoid looking institutional in any way - I actually thought it was a collection of architect designed houses when i saw it first.

Take A Bow, O'Donnell & Tuomey......
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Postby Alison » Sat Oct 16, 1999 1:18 am

Obviously Rory W is of a different mindset. I am of a differing opinion;having spent 5 years abroad and coming home in shock to the atrocious planning,the sheer vomiting of ugly constructions, having been formerly proud of our irish town and cityscapes and facing an eternity of misinterpretations of original architectural ideas; I came to one conclusion about certain misdemeanours which were built. Contextualize your prospective building within it's site!!....There are so many places where they have created monstrosities but they have ignored it's context. I am not saying "Build a replica but Get It Right!" My major reaction in a red brick situation is get it right! Look at Berlage in the Bourse in Amsterdam, St.Pauls within the walls on the Via Nazionale in Rome. Look at where we are coming from in a real situation and get it right. Take a beauty Rory on your doorstep....the George's St Arcade and surroundings!!!Quit looking at the blue neon and smell the coffee!In all Rory W forget about the nauseating concrete...it does take some time to master a material!!! and architecture in Dublin has been given free reign and in practical home or work living have created disasters or living morgues for the most part.
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Postby Paul Clerkin » Sat Oct 16, 1999 1:28 pm

Ranelagh Multidenominational School

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Postby Rory W » Mon Oct 18, 1999 5:36 pm

Alison,

I think the South City markets in Georges Street are absolutely brilliant. I also think the north city markets (Little Mary Street) will look brilliant when they have finished restoring it. I just think that there is adistinct lack of imagination these days when it comes to using brick. There is far too much emphesis on the use of brick in this city, as Paul said there is perceived "quality" in architecture these days in which brick is used. I dont know if its the fact that Brick is Low maintenance (Over say something which has to be painted) but in most developments these days there is just an overdose of brick. And its not usually old Dublin brick but bright red, and all in uniform swathes. The other factor that annoys about brick is the Twee factor that John white has consistantly mentioned on this site (Give it a clock tower and it gets permission).Yes, some people see concrete as evil in this city, but I do believe that it can also look beautiful. Stone can look cold but at least it looks different. I think what I am saying is that we need to just break up some of the uniformity, especially in new office/apartment block areas.

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Postby Shane » Tue Oct 19, 1999 12:01 pm

Sabháileann foirgneamh amhain an chearnóg os chomhair Christ Church - ar an taobh eile den bhothar in aice leis an tabairne 'Lord Edward' . Úsaidtear brick ansin ach nios cosiúla leis an scoil i Ranelagh ná Jurys. Taitnaíonn sé liom ach is soileair nach bhfuil an togála criochnaithe go foill.

One building save the area oppostite Christ Church - the new one on the corner opposite the Lord Edawrd pub. Brick is used there but more reflective of the Ranelagh school [as above] than the Jurys complex next to it.
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Postby MG » Tue Oct 19, 1999 12:06 pm

Thats the new deBlacam & Meagher building - and its a fine structure. The upper stories are an apartment and most have an amazing view.
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Postby fiachra » Tue Oct 19, 1999 12:43 pm

Exposed finely detailed concrete is a beautiful material. Playing with different aggregates and cements gives a large pallette of colours and textures. Ian Ritchie has used exposed concrete to wonderful effect on the Jubillee Line exhaust shafts in London Docklands (sorry no images).

Brick/masonry is probably an underused material not explored to its limits. When one just thinks about what Gaudi did with masonry it shows we are limited only by our imagination.

Masonry has a wonderful heritage in Ireland. The dry stone walling of the west of Ireland, the cottages, Dun Aengus in Aran, Clonmacnois... the list is endless. Maybe we should consider it as more than a cladding material and make it truely expressive............
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Postby Siobhán » Thu Oct 21, 1999 3:57 pm

John: re. University Church

There is a history of the Church available - unfortunately I don't know what it's called or who wrote or publishes it. But if it's any help, I saw it in Eason's on O'Connell Street, in the small section on Irish Architecture just as you go in the far right door. Might as well have a look there!
Siobhán.
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Postby TD » Sat Nov 13, 1999 1:33 pm

Seriously there is some really good work being done with brick on a domestic scale in may of the suburbs in Dublin 4 & 6. Usually down back mews lanes, there are a couple of fine houses near Waterloo Road [dont ask me where exactly... I was drunkenly wandering home pas them]
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Postby john white » Sun Nov 14, 1999 12:21 pm

Further to this conversation and my other posting about 'Decoration' and the lack of.

I love that ornate Venetian/byzantine style building in Dublin.

Which one? Try looking on Westmoreland Street. Where you wouldn't expect and some wouldn't even notice. The Amusement Arcade in the bottom of it is quite a distraction.

I wonder when they'll demolish that?

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Postby fiachra » Wed Nov 17, 1999 1:08 pm

I see the O'Donnell Tuomey, Ranelagh Multidenominational School has been put forward for the Stirling Prize.
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