Smithfield, Dublin

Postby CTR » Wed Sep 06, 2000 2:04 am


I think it is too early to judge the merits or not of the Smithfield Plaza ensemble. They shouldn't have had the grand opening so soon after its initial completion because I think peoples' expectations of this newly created area are a little high. So far, its all a little dull and grey. But it could change. The view from the Chimney shows that there's little in the immediate area to hold peoples' interest unless they live there or are interested in Whiskey distilling. I think it is petentially a very pleasant residential area; for the newly arrived 'gentry' that are buying the fancy apartments. Some civic ocassions could conceivably be given a good stage by Smithfield. Otherwise, its too far from the really central parts of the city, where we should be first concentrating regeneration project [from a civic perspective].

Secondly, I think the locals are enjoying the ability to object about "something" - high rise in this case. Its natural for a community to want a degree of power. They have been consulted little thus far about Smithfield. However, I dont think the planners are thinking of setting high rise precedants in the area. The one tower that is planned is very much a landmark - and will only have one apartment on each floor. I think they wont succeed in halting this. It is far too pretty and intrudes on very few.

Thirdly, College Green should be dug up, tunnels laid, and then totally pedestrianised. It would undoubtedly become the heart of Dublin and would complement O'Connell Street on the one hand and Stephens Green on the other.
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Postby Know It All » Wed Sep 06, 2000 10:07 am

JK, are you terrified of the use of height in building schemes? Eight or nine storeys is the norm for a European city standard.The square is wide enough for such. One sees such commonly abroad. It will not become a canyon. The proposed new tower will act as a 'marker' for Smithfield. Anyway what would you propose; more of the same 'nice' little corpo style houses,ZZZzzzzzz! all one and two storeys high dotted along.It's the big time now. No more pokey little 'builder' designed buildings. It looks like that the years of neglect and poverty have played havoc on the locals psyche. Such changes are too radical to cope with. The decades of dereliction have all of a sudden gave way to the proliferation of brand new appartment schemes springing up, bringing people back into the city whether they'd be yuppies,guppies, students etc..... but the inner city locals have in some way developed a seige mentality and want to protect their little 'ghettos' This is manifested in part on the attacks on tourists and foreigners and the 'keep out' syndrome. But what must be understood is that Dublin city is public property belonging to all.It must develop in a 'city' like way and to develop it's international image.If not it will remain a provincial town and remain looking like one too. Locals interests are important of course but in every instance a handful of people should not hinder what is best for the whole of the city's interest. Everybody is jumping on the band wagon now rejecting building schemes just because of height. The demolition balls will always swing to level such, as in the past.
Know It All

Postby Hi » Wed Sep 06, 2000 10:17 am

Hi JK, the Smithfield design shared first prize in international competion....that can't be bad despite the homegrown criticism. You're an architect, done anything of note you'd care to mention.

Postby Freud » Wed Sep 06, 2000 12:00 pm

Indeed true, the years of poverty, neglect and isolation have produced a somewhat under seige mentality in people in these cases with a willingness to hang on to what little they have,no matter how blighted,and opposed to change which could be for the better in most circumstances. The Irish mentality believing that wealth is bad and poverty is good,still prevails.

Postby Anti Nonsense Brigade » Wed Sep 06, 2000 1:54 pm

The problem with any kind of civic development in Dublin does not lie with the architects or with the planners. It is the mentality of Dublin as a city. If a local residential group does not want development in their existing community, then nothing will happen. Its like a cancerous tumour being left on the body because it doesnt want to go. I am not calling impoverished people a cancer, I am merely stating that decisions should be made for made for the sake of the whole city. That is 100 percent pro-democracy. A local residential group should not have the power to undermine the potential amenity of a whole city. If we want Smithfield to be increased or the Calatrava bridges to be built, then it is time that decisions are made by intelligent educated people, to benefit the whole city and not by whinging Councillers with their own perverse agendas.Dublin is dying on its feet because of mob rule.

P.S. Should a forum be set up for the demonisation of Mary MacAlese. When I saw the elevation of her 'statly residence' I was ill. Rory Quinn, do something for the love of god. Were an international discrace.
Anti Nonsense Brigade

Postby B.Haussman » Wed Sep 06, 2000 2:31 pm

True, true, very true, one can mention too that not only is one of Calatrava's splendid bridges in jeopardy but the whole O'Connell Street redevelopment plan also, due to a 'minorities ' objection over traffic flow. Why live in a bleedin city if you don't want put up with city life and the hustle and bustle that goes with it.

Postby MG » Wed Sep 06, 2000 2:52 pm

DUBLIN County Council's Central Area committee
last night condemned the ``high-handed'' behaviour of
the city manager in granting planning permission to a
£126m development in the Smithfield area.

An emergency motion agreed last night said the
manager should have addressed the serious concerns
expressed by the local community and councillors at
the Central Area Committee and the HARP
monitoring committee. He also failed to await the
outcome of the Urban Height and Density study
which is due to report shortly.
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Postby B.Haussman » Wed Sep 06, 2000 3:19 pm

Well that's just so predictable (as No Nonsense Brigade has already stated). See Ciaran Cuffe is in there objecting again, the bollocks, he's just canvassing for votes.Imagine a £120 million development refused for one of the most deprived areas of the city; a case of cutting off one's nose to spite one's face. Ah! **** them I say, build hundreds of Vera Duckworth style social housing, sure that will pass the planning board no hassle, and the area will always be an unaspiring slum. I'm off to live in Paris. I pity poor city manager John Fitzgerald what a great man of vision, too bad he has no support.

Postby HA! HA! » Wed Sep 06, 2000 4:11 pm

Here'a what part of the report said , 'The Markets Area Community Resource Organisation described the planned development as ``highly intrusive visually'' adding that it would ``seriously injure the
residential, community and visual amenity of this historic part of the city''. Historic ? there is hardly anything historic left standing, community and visual amenity? the place as it stands now is one huge eyesore, residential? a handful of homes. This is ludicrous! A case of beggars being choosers.

Postby Rory W » Wed Sep 06, 2000 5:32 pm

But no one in government, local or national will ever stand up to these people. Its like those people that delay the demolition of tower blocks by staying put. No one ever stands up to them.

As Spock said in Star Trek 2 "the needs of the few outnumber the needs of the many".

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Postby Rory W » Wed Sep 06, 2000 5:34 pm

Sorry that was "the needs of the many out number the needs of the few".

Hey long day at work!!

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Postby Ronan C » Wed Sep 06, 2000 8:14 pm

In response to JK I wish he would step into the 21st century and wake up to what good architecture is all about. This development will liven up a city which otherwise has a bland skyline. Look at Munich for example where blocks of five and six storey bildings are broken up by well designed taller buildings of 10-20 storeys this makes for a very exciting mix.
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Postby Peter Fitz » Wed Sep 06, 2000 8:27 pm

Does anybody have any pictures of the new development?? or have the small minded 'locals' burnt every existing picture...i thought it was odd that there was no picture included with an article on the development in todays indo. The new development sounds great, would be nice if we could see what its going to look like though!!
Peter Fitz

Postby JK » Thu Sep 07, 2000 1:42 am

Interesting comments !!, however the point remains that no one on this web page has given a coherent or intelligent critique stating why this development should be allowed to proceed.

Planning permission should not be granted just because a developer is willing to spend a lot of money (and the sums we are talking about are HUGE!) that would give rise to a situation where planning permissions would be granted to the highest bidder.

Secondly, and once again, some of the pre-conceptions arising on this page about the locals are, frankly, astounding. Crime is minimal in the area, the majority of people in the area are in employment and are certainly not ignorant, (is it ignorant to take an interest in your city, to monitor planning applications, to visit the planning desk daily, to learn how to read plans and technical drawings, to come to grips with the language of density, development plans, high rise studies et al). I wonder how many of the contributors to this web page have taken the same trouble in order to familiarise themselves with this development.

As to the notion of locals being anti development, that is risible. For years local community groups have been lobbying Dublin Corporation for the implementation of the masterplan which eventually became the HARP Plan.

Why should Dublin follow the model and pattern of development of Munich, Frankfurt, New York, Shanghai and whatever city is demolishing more and building higher, faster and more densely than its rivals, that way lies dereliction, infrastructural disaster and cities which are uninhabitable.

As to the lack of 'historic' fabric. Has anybody actually looked at an OS map, development plan, or even taken a good walk around the area???. If they had they would notice a strong core of untidy, gap toothed but still intact 18th century Dublin. 1 church dating from the 10th century, three 18th century churches, an entire 18th century asylum by Francis Johnson, an 18th century fever hospital by the same architect, four public houses originally taverns dating from the 17th 18th and 19th centuries, the 1770's Blew Coat School, a market square dating from 1640, a half intact 1640's main Street (Queen Street) a large number of list 1 and 2 18th century houses, a high street (stoneybatter) dating from the 9th century - the list goes on!!

As to my own credentials, would two Special Mentions in the AAi's the same number in he RIAI's, four magazine profiles a slew of serious and I should add modern built work convince???

Take the trouble to find out about the people and area. I get the strong impression that the ignorance lies on the side of soem of the web site commentators supporting this development for the vaguest of reasons.

And once again, without re-iterating, cut out the neo fascistic drivel. Learn to look, analyse, consider and think. Architecture is not about surface and height. It is about the shaping of the built environment. Think long and hard about a development of this height made up largely of warren like rabbit hutch apartments, a few super pubs, a budget hotel and some dodgy office useage, all of such enormity that even the developers admit that it would overshadow most of Smithfield for the greater part of the year. This type of development does no credit to any city - if you want to look at the consequences of this type of thing look at Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow. Smithfield needs development on its west side, but not these developments.

And finally, where were you all 7 years ago when this community forced Dublin Corporation to look into the revitalisation of Smithfield, insisted upon the preparation of a masterplan, demanded proper policing, safe street lighting, organised play areas and instituted one of the most sucessful adult education courses in the inner city.

Less nonsense PLEASE, and more intelligent debate. Persuade me that you are right, give reasons for your arguments - In short grow up!!!

Postby Anti-Nonsense Brigade » Thu Sep 07, 2000 10:14 am

There was no forum or net 7 years ago. Im not a bigot & I doubt many on this page are. I for one, do not dispute the fact for one moment that dodgy high rise hotels, apts etc. Should not be built. Yes these local residential groups have rallied together admirably. To what end ?. Dublin is a supposed municipal city. One decision should involve all, affect all. Yes I have dealt with groups of inner city people in the past & as idealistic as JK seems to be (he has the laurels to prove it, AAI or IFA, whoever he is affiliated with seems to think he's hot stuff), the sometimes can be extremely resistant to change. The insular nature of these communities is due to a deep distrust of power and its abuse, and only through change can this cycle be broken. JK has a vast knowledge of inner city history. I dont, but in the spirit of all true Dubs (which Im not), I will debate loudly & in a beligerent and agressive manner about something into which I have little insight and absolutely no concrete facts. I'll wander of the point of the initial debate and insult people & presume my insight is greater than theirs.
Anti-Nonsense Brigade

Postby upandupandupandup » Thu Sep 07, 2000 10:31 am

It'll never happen, you know. They're only playing games. Monopoly, for real.

The tall part of the scheme, the 23-storey apartment tower, is merely a stalking horse. It will never be built. Nobody could be mad enough - let alone 'afford' - to build an elaborate structural system so high and install lifts, escape stairs, etc, simply to support a single, 'tiny' apartment on each floor plate. Everyone knows that. Ask any engineer.

Dublin Corporation are merely trying to flush out the hustlers, by putting it up to them. When it comes to urban design and architecture, these guys only ever say: that's nice - now, can we get some more? As sure as eggs are eggs, they'll be back with a proposal to fatten the tower, or take it out entirely in return for an extra storey all over the site.

They're trying to play the old 'setting a new height precedent' game. But those bad old days, when legalistic interpretations of the planning acts held more sway than design judgements, are fast coming to an end. The Corporation is getting ahead of the game and decisions are now being made on the basis of architectural and urban design criteria. That's what all the references to Sienna and San Gimignano here are about. It's not about height per se, no more than Ian Ritchies's spike has any chance of setting a new height limit for city-centre developers to exploit.

Good on you, John Fitzgerald, for calling their bluff!

Postby Bramante » Thu Sep 07, 2000 10:36 am

Hi JK, but you still have'nt stated what should replace the proposed scheme. What would you and the locals like to see there instead. Maybe your own architectural firm had proposed a plan which was refused just like that bloke Miceal O Nualain and the Monument of light debacle. I've seen the proposed plans and the design looks quite similar to contemporary schemes being built in Europe ie the Potsdamer Platz in Berlin. So what is wrong looking to European cities for examples; they seem to get it right in most cases. They have centries of experience in urban design. Any attempts by us Irish at such in the past have always been ham fisted. To look at what's there now well McGarry Ni Eanigh attempts at reconstructing the urban square was quite noble and honest,and Fusano Properties are merely trying to evoke a 21st century version of the Piazza san Marco and St. Mark's bell tower in Venice with their scheme which includes the 23 storey tower. I could bet you anything that the tower will be refused permission and the height of the scheme will be dramatically reduced. I bet too that a quite unimposing, unimpressive scheme with sub-urban qualities will be built and then all will be right with the world. The architect who can devise a plan to hide 'shadows' within city scapes will be a rich man. Oh by the way I happen to be from Smithfield, born and bred in the place, The Cobblestone and Bo Derrols are my locals,(maybe I've seen you there) and to add I think it's great to see all this redevelopment, too bad the rest of my kind can't see it that way. If you'd voice your opinion which is opposite to their's you'd be shot down such is the cliques that exist.

Postby Alfie Byrne » Thu Sep 07, 2000 12:47 pm

What's wrong with a few super pubs, a budget hotel, offices and appartments.No doubt there will be shops too. What do you want......? Would a 5 star Hilton Hotel be more appropriate, I doubt it in that area ,I suppose 'super pubs' will attract the yuppie drunks, the appartments and offices will bring about people and traffic congestion.... Oh yeah! the sun sets in the west so the shadows will be cast in the evening across the square, by then the area will be coming alive with the night life. Anyway, What do you want to see there? Please tell us JK.....
Alfie Byrne

Postby Anti-Nonsense Brigade » Thu Sep 07, 2000 1:20 pm

Leave poor JK alone.
Anti-Nonsense Brigade

Postby Peter Fitz » Thu Sep 07, 2000 8:46 pm

Why is it that any plans for any kind of poxy high rise building in Dublin are immediately shot down by an taisce and scared locals as if the devil himself was the architect....the proposed building is not even that bloody tall, the square is large and can take the impact of the proposed building. Rounding such a large square with nothing but 4 story featureless crap would be awful. The proposed building is mildly radical and has already met with such extreme opposition no wonder nearly every new development in dublin is pathetically mediocre. As previously mentioned any shadows cast on to the square will have a small impact due to the sun setting in the west. Does everything built in dublin have to be so bloody boring....i am waiting to hear what jk suggests should be built on the west side of the square.

[This message has been edited by Peter FitzPatrick (edited 07 September 2000).]
Peter Fitz

Postby JK » Thu Sep 07, 2000 10:09 pm

OK, Colours to the Mast and all that!.

What I would LIKE to see happen on that particular site is:

A 5 storey scheme with the 5th floor recessed to form a long planted terrace at that level.

A decent sized new boulevard to link through to the Blue Coat School (the link proposed is extremely narrow and actually aligns at a cant towards Marmion Court Flats, such an axial link would finally give the Square a proper Civic relationship with one of the finest pieces of Architecture in the country.

Absolutely right about the tower, it is of course a 'stalking horse' however I would have no major problem with it provided that the design was more crystalline to take advantage of he light (did you know that the reason that Weichert used faceted polished steel on the Bow lane elevation to the Distillery project was to refract winter sunlight into shadowey Bow Lane? - works very well and glass would achieve an even better ecffect with the tower).

My wish list would also include the relocation of the Abbey theatre which needs a new home anyway, a third of the current underground parking provision which would in any case only succeed in drawing more traffic into the area, also a group of architects producing a unified composition (eg: the old lags such as Paul Keogh, Niall McCullogh, Valerie Mulvin etc, mixedin with a few of the younger more talented and dynamic crowd such - Grainne Hassett, Niall Mclaughlin etc) as opposed to the 'hackitects'who have made such a greedy mess of this site.

As to hotels sure stick one in but don't cater to the lowest common denominator (actually the tower migh be more suitable as a hotel), shops - yes, starter units for business, - yes, offices - yes, apartments - yes (but decent sized, with three bedrooms and a minimum living area of say 750sqft, pubs, fine but no larger than 1500sq ft.

Finally, a developer with a little more vision than that currently on display (has anybody twigged yet the involvement of Zoe Developments I wonder??)

PS don't worry too much about 'leaving poor JK alone' - I am allowed to switch this machine off I my delicatee sensibilities are offended.

Cheerio and have a chew over that!!

Postby LOB » Fri Sep 08, 2000 11:01 am

I agree with JK on the missed opportunity of forming a link with the Blue coat school.
Also as an Architect who has lived in the area for about 7 years I would be worried about Zoe having any involvement with the scheme as they have not served the area well with their previous developments.
The current design leaves a lot to be desired regardless of the height issue (I Agree that the apartment block is a stalking horse, in addition the proposed childrens museum/Wax museum is only to satisfy the "Civic use" requirement for increased density/height)
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Postby Rory W » Fri Sep 08, 2000 11:10 am

Aren't there enough Hotels in Dublin at this stage. Both budget and 5 star (especially dont build a Hilton - they're really boring and crappy). I agree with JK's comments about the apartment sizes, sounds great - I want one, but put the apartments in the tower. Far more interesting to live somewhere like that than have a hotel loking over you. The resty of the scheme seems fine to me, I don't know what the complaints are about. I can see a day when they start pulling down some of the Zoe developments stuff that was only built there recently.

Viva la revolution

Rory W
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Postby Tom Jones » Mon Sep 25, 2000 1:52 pm

Does anyone know what the plan is regarding the Marmion Court Flats. Are they to be renovated, or demolished? They are pretty grim looking, but I must admit to liking the
graffiti. What's the plan for Blackhall Street?
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Postby Tom Jones » Mon Sep 25, 2000 2:03 pm

PS The new Law Society building is fantastic. Marvellous combination of stone and aluminium, (not sure whether its aluminium or not). Excellent. Really lifts the Street.

Most of the surrounding buildings are very grey and dark. Given that the Irish climate is also grey, that makes for a dull environment. These mew materials indroduce a new tone, and liven up an otherwise monochrome street.
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