ESB Headquarters Fitzwilliam Street

Re: ESB Headquarters Fitzwilliam Street

Postby GrahamH » Fri Jun 05, 2009 4:39 pm

It depends what is meant by 'historical recreation'. Personally I would be in favour of rebuilding all 16 houses, but critically as just that, houses. Frankly I think this has much integrity as any piece of clever contemporary infill, and in the longer term would prove to be the more gratifying option. These residences could take the form of a mixture of full-on townhouses and purpose-designed apartments in the Continental tradition.

I do however also feel that the redevelopment of the entire site is something which must exhibit a design unity and coherence. The reconstruction of houses to the front with a behemoth of a contemporary insert to the rear, 'to make the figures stack up' Spencer Dock-style, would undermine the integrity of the whole scheme. There is a perception that the south Georgian core is self-sustaining and has achieved its optimum quality and level of occupancy, whereas the reality is that an opportunity is presented by this redevelopment to inject much life and vigour into what is a lifeless, if beautiful, quarter of the city - the blonde trinklet on the arm of Dublin (even if Dublin is another female, though I often suspect sexless myself - it's hard to know where to look to confirm these things), which exhibits much style but little in the way of substance. This affords an unparalled chance to inject a large and dense residential population into the very heart of Dublin.

I feel the entire development should use brick as a baseline material, with the contemporary parts making reference to Georgian design through scale and proportionality and a wider interpretation of the era's guiding principles. If anyone thinks I'm calling for 80s pastiche, we forget this discussion now. It's time for architects to get real and imaginative about contextual architecture - surely matters have progressed in architectural thinking to a degree that intelligent, academic design can be just plain old pleasant to look at and live in, whilst also gratifying those who look for the more subtle layers in the built environment.
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Re: ESB Headquarters Fitzwilliam Street

Postby missarchi » Sat Jun 06, 2009 12:00 am

what? wrote:I am not advocating a jarring 'signature' building here.

I am saying that a visually sensitive response is needed.

I am also saying that historical recreations anywhere, equate to a distortion of history more deeply disturbing than any facile disunity created by a modern building in a historical setting.


Architecture has and will continue to distort history regardless of style because it is a reflection of people... what ever happened to chain mail it got lost in transport and declared damaged goods return to sender? Expect triangle shaped roofs?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tomcosgrave/141626225/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/vanneste/3252013768/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/360berlin/3030249473/sizes/o/
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Re: ESB Headquarters Fitzwilliam Street

Postby Peter Fitz » Sun Jun 07, 2009 11:58 pm

what? wrote:Replication is fundamentally wrong.

Instead of adding to history, it undermines it.


I would normally agree. In this case however, it is Fitzwilliam street that has been fundamentally undermined, making reinstatement, fundamentally right.


GrahamH wrote:It depends what is meant by 'historical recreation'. Personally I would be in favour of rebuilding all 16 houses, but critically as just that, houses. Frankly I think this has much integrity as any piece of clever contemporary infill, and in the longer term would prove to be the more gratifying option. These residences could take the form of a mixture of full-on townhouses and purpose-designed apartments in the Continental tradition.


This would also be my preferred option & really represents the optimum that could be achieved under the circumstances, unfortunately unlikely though & reaching for my pragmatic hat, exact facade & roofline reinstatement is probably the best that can be hoped for.

GrahamH wrote:(even if Dublin is another female, though I often suspect sexless myself - it's hard to know where to look to confirm these things),


Poolbeg? ...

sorry :o
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Re: ESB Headquarters Fitzwilliam Street

Postby lostexpectation » Mon Jun 08, 2009 12:43 am

did the esb not consider leaving the site?
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Re: ESB Headquarters Fitzwilliam Street

Postby missarchi » Mon Jun 08, 2009 1:16 am

lostexpectation wrote:did the esb not consider leaving the site?


omp? but why would you leave a site like this it makes no long term sense
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Re: ESB Headquarters Fitzwilliam Street

Postby missarchi » Mon Jun 08, 2009 5:29 am

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/letters/2009/0608/1224248284045.html

I admire some of the ESB concepts such as the mixing the best elements of the 3 designs if done correctly. Will it be caixaforumish? Large for plates or existing old blocko plates!
We need paddy power to bet on a number of outcomes...

Will It End up in the EU court?
Will It be best building in Ireland for a long time?
Will it have large floor plates?
Will it go quite?
How many awards will it win?
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Re: ESB Headquarters Fitzwilliam Street

Postby mp » Thu Jun 11, 2009 12:01 pm

i shudder to think that anyone in this thread advocating the replication of the original houses is in any way involved professionally with architecture/planning
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Re: ESB Headquarters Fitzwilliam Street

Postby GregF » Thu Jun 11, 2009 12:04 pm

I agree with rebuilding the 16 houses. It's a simple case of repairing the vandalism and damage that has been done. And this treatment should be applied to what's left of all the historical areas throughout the city.... ie the Quays etc... and Thomas and James Street as dealt with on another thread.

A simple matter of approach to historical areas is of applying the basics of uniformity, symmetry, sensitivity, respect, maintenance, etc....(infill that is sensitive whether it's contemporary or a recreation).... and then we'd have a city that's visually better with all those looses ends fixed up and no jarring eyesores.

Plenty of employment too as there is a plethora of fixing to be done.

In the long run it makes sense.


(BTW....Anyone see the area of the quays where the Brazen Head pub is.......very bad case of the butchers and botchers at work. And then there's the awful Gardiner Street, etc....)
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Re: ESB Headquarters Fitzwilliam Street

Postby notjim » Thu Jun 11, 2009 12:58 pm

We should rebuild the houses, it isn't about reproducing whats lost but restoring what has been damaged, the streetscape.

It would be silly to paint an old masters painting, John Currin excepted, but if someone tore a Vermeer, it would be repaired.
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Re: ESB Headquarters Fitzwilliam Street

Postby KeepAnEyeOnBob » Thu Jun 11, 2009 1:45 pm

mp wrote:i shudder to think that anyone in this thread advocating the replication of the original houses is in any way involved professionally with architecture/planning


I would be surprised if reinstatement would not be the preference of most of the general public and those not involved in architecture/planning. Ordinary people are not going to care about ideology, and as regards respecting historical integrity, would probably consider something that "looks" like the rest of the street to be a better idea than things remaining as is. That would certainly be my attitude though I'd prefer the existing situation to a poorly executed reproduction or fake facade. I can understand the perspective of many architects and so on though. The existing ESB building is a distinctive style.

I guess it's a bit like the scenario with that "carbuncle" shopping centre in England (Tricorn centre or something?)
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Re: ESB Headquarters Fitzwilliam Street

Postby gunter » Thu Jun 11, 2009 10:14 pm

GrahamH wrote:I think it is a rather good building, ground floor aside, were it not for the location.


Devin wrote:I thought the impact of the building (pre-painting) on the Georgian Mile was surprisingly low for all the fuss there was at the time about how wrong it was to demolish the original buildings & put a modern building there.


I understand the longing for some kind of restoration of the original streetscape, and I share that longing, and I also believe that 'restoration' should be one of the options available to every city, damaged by catastrophe, neglect or regrettable intervention, but actually deciding to put the clock back forty years! . . . I can't see that being the right decision.

Then there's the existing building! . . . the Stephenson/Gibney (wasn't Garvey also involved) building is a sophisticated piece of work, for 1962, (ground floor, recent pink paint and perhaps some issues of unreleaved repetition aside).

Who's to say that a future generation won't want to 'restore' that facade to represent all that brash confidence and uncontrolled energy of developers' Dublin of the 1960s!

Image
page from Frank McDonald's 'The Destruction of Dublin'
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Re: ESB Headquarters Fitzwilliam Street

Postby notjim » Thu Jun 11, 2009 11:27 pm

I know, I know: it is hard not to be conflicted, I admit my post above was a troll intended to trick people into googling John Currin at work, but half of me agrees, it is _such_ a street scape, something else, incredible, the photograph you attached attest to it, and the original facades are well documented and photographed. It seems wrong to rebuild these long lost buildings, silly, sentimental, but wrong not to too.
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Re: ESB Headquarters Fitzwilliam Street

Postby GrahamH » Thu Jun 11, 2009 11:48 pm

:)

Even so. were it not for the outmoded floor levels and circulation issues etc, I wouldn't be in any rush to replace the facade of the building - at best it'd be a 50/50 scenario when comparing this with the potential reinstatement of houses. If it is a foregone conclusion (which is I suspect it is) that a contemporary insertion is the desired option, it would be a shame to have Gibney's elegant facade replaced by something as equally incongruous on the streetscape, only simply more so by losing the very potent connection that the current structure has to the heritage of the site. At least what is currently there is honesty at its most raw. Would an uber-chic, intellectually contextual concoction hold quite the same appeal? The answer is that, as with all such matters, everything is relative and at least in part ideologically informed.

The reinstatement of the houses would of course be fraught with its own difficulties: do you build them all of the same brick as a unified scheme as an 18th century developer would have done, or replicate subtle deviations from pair to pair as if built by multiple persons? If sufficient records do not survive, do you execute this arbitrarily? What about later additions such as Victorian plate windows, balconies or other ironwork?

mp, of course reinstating the houses is not something to be repeated on a wider level, but contained to such a notorious site, all passions and ideologies aside, I think it would be quite a curious exercise - on an international level at that. Even if something to be completely derided, it's still unquestionably interesting. Frankly we have reached a stage (whilst not advocating mediocrity) that whatever fills this site, above and beyond all other contentious cases over the years, shall stand as a monument to this generation's (or this generation's professions') outlook on the built environment.

Still have an open mind though. I have some thoughts in my mind's eye but I cannot articulate them. How convenient.
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Re: ESB Headquarters Fitzwilliam Street

Postby gunter » Fri Jun 12, 2009 12:24 am

GrahamH wrote::)
. . . . whatever fills this site, above and beyond all other contentious cases over the years, shall stand as a monument to this generation's outlook on the built environment.


One option would be to not fill the space!

Create a square on this side of the street, corresponding to Merrion Sq. and Fitzwilliam Sq. on the other side.

Complete the Georgian streetscape by omission!

. . Yea, I can see the ESB going for that one :rolleyes:
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Re: ESB Headquarters Fitzwilliam Street

Postby MurrayMints » Tue Jun 16, 2009 10:54 pm

I am a little shocked to be reading these posts to be honest. I've been checking Archiseek once or twice a week now ever since I started college a few years back (it's somewhat addictive!) and having read thread, after thread, after thread, you get an idea of who knows what, and peoples general opinion on things and i'm a bit miffed at this one.

I would have been certain that the opportunity to correct what I thought was one of the numerous bad planning decisions of the 60's would have been jumped upon by most, but everyone seems to be fairly hesistant about the idea of putting back what was originally there. (Well to tell the honest truth, i'd prefer Gunter's suggestion but I think the only way that would happen is if every single one of us took The Big Switch!)

Anyway there has to be something I'm missing here because I would love to see it returned to its former glory and on top of that, I wouldn't view it as a step back achitecturally either due its sensitive surroundings. You could look at it in the same context as the restoration of a building, except the building in this case is all of Lower Fitzwilliam Street and not just the ESB building.
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Re: ESB Headquarters Fitzwilliam Street

Postby rumpelstiltskin » Wed Jun 17, 2009 3:20 am

A few years ago they "restored" the Sistine Chapel, which involved not only cleaning the ceiling but also repainting many areas where the paint had flaked off. They still call it Michelangelo's work even though some of it isn't. It seems to me the arguments here (less obviously absurd because it's part of the wearisome architectural orthodoxy) are tantamount to suggesting that Willem de Kooning should have been brought in to fill in the blanks in the ceiling in his own style.
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Re: ESB Headquarters Fitzwilliam Street

Postby what? » Wed Jun 17, 2009 9:42 am

im glad you brought up that analogy rumpelstiltzkin, because this argument petains to much more than fitzwilliam st. stretching out to all areas of life/ art.

I would disagree with the described restoration (see: recreation) of the sistine chapel for similar reasons of falsity and a loss of reality.

We need to have a less simplistic attitude towards history and the built fabric of our cities.

See link here for another route towards re-occupation of historical fabric, one that recognises that history is a series of intertwined continuities rather than a single, exclusive, idealised stage (set) of the buildings life.

By calling for recreation you are calling for falsity and advocting a distortion of reality, and whether the vast majority of the public notice or not is not the point.
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Re: ESB Headquarters Fitzwilliam Street

Postby missarchi » Wed Jun 17, 2009 10:29 am

what? wrote:I would disagree with the described restoration (see: recreation) of the sistine chapel for similar reasons of falsity and a loss of reality.


How does this relate to people? If someone is sick do you not treat them...
If someone has an accident and loses half there face is face reconstruction wrong?
Is it a loss of reality is that person not a person anymore?
Is this person now false because they have a false leg or someone else's heart?
At the same time if a building needs upgrading do you not upgrade/recreate it?
falsity and loss of reality has its place its called intent...
Ideas and religion can be more powerful than reality and falsity is what drives the world.
There is never any reality just perceived reality in the built environment...

I would either be happy with an acknowledgement of the old intent/grid it can be a reconstruction or recreation. What goes on behind could be a meal deal... that makes everyone happy:) one of them must be the ugly duckling

http://www.flickr.com/photos/neesam/2097021679/sizes/o/

changing hands still people in control... and history has not changed iconoclasts are not allowed to practice
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Re: ESB Headquarters Fitzwilliam Street

Postby jimg » Wed Jun 17, 2009 11:29 am

Whether recreation is justified depends to a degree on whether you value what will have to be destroyed to accommodate it. It is easier to argue the case for recreations to be built on a site currently being used as a surface car park for example than for one containing some genuinely interesting building.

I've never admired the current facade. It is repetitive suggesting a weak attempt to respect the rhythm of the Georgian Terrace but missing the point entirely without any vital variation. It's boring and bland - neither rudely functional nor brashly modern. It's all staid semi-state comfort; it looks like the sort of place that is going to have carpet tiles covering everything. The frontage onto the lane behind is far better and worth a look. Across the lane, you have the great Bank of Ireland block - an exciting expression of modern architecture. In comparison, the ESB frontage onto Fitzwilliam Street feels to me like a badly executed compromise probably as a result of well-meaning objections to developing on this site.

Because of this I'd have no problem seeing it ripped down and replaced with something better whether reproductions or something overtly modern. The problem for me while there is a small chance that an overtly modern replacement could work - particularly in the long term, the likelyhood is that the replacement would be similar or worse. The public understandably see this as a high risk strategy given past experience and are a bit jaundiced of being told by the professionals that this option is the only one which has "integrity" and "honesty".

In contrast, the risk with reproductions is much less, assuming both were executed with the same attention to materials and detail. There may be some theological bickering initially about integrity and honesty but in 50 years time, you know that most observers will not give a damn and it will be seen as irrelevant that a section of the terrace had been missing for a few decades in the 20th century. At that stage, the terrace can be considered restored. And hopefully the main Bank of Ireland block will be still standing behind it as an example of Irish international modern architecture which has integrity and excitement.
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Re: ESB Headquarters Fitzwilliam Street

Postby rumpelstiltskin » Wed Jun 17, 2009 12:26 pm

what? wrote:im glad you brought up that analogy rumpelstiltzkin, because this argument petains to much more than fitzwilliam st. stretching out to all areas of life/ art.

I would disagree with the described restoration (see: recreation) of the sistine chapel for similar reasons of falsity and a loss of reality.

We need to have a less simplistic attitude towards history and the built fabric of our cities.

See link here for another route towards re-occupation of historical fabric, one that recognises that history is a series of intertwined continuities rather than a single, exclusive, idealised stage (set) of the buildings life.

By calling for recreation you are calling for falsity and advocting a distortion of reality, and whether the vast majority of the public notice or not is not the point.


In one paragraph you decry an over-simplistic attitude to architectural history, and in the next you make the most absolute simplification of all: between true and false architecture. Did it ever occur to you that nostalgia for a particular form of architecture - and the consequent desire to replace a relatively minor section of a huge streetscape in order to restore a sense of completeness - might be a perfectly valid intertwined element in your complex manifold of history? And that what is perceived as truth and falsity may be a lot more complex than you suggest? In relation to what exactly, other than your own gut instincts, are you positing true architecture only as that which is undertaken in the styles particular to the age, and false architecture as that which is in the style of a previous age?

If there's a significant groundswell of support for the restoration of Georgian architecture in certain areas, an architecture which is bound up totally with most people's sense of Dublin in the 20th and 21st centuries (not just the 18th century), then surely that sentiment is a "true" one which permits of expression by architectural means. Strangely enough, I think that nothing is more of a falsification than ideological adherence to one strand of architectural thinking when what characterises our age more than any other is the sheer multitude of strands of every conceivable stripe.
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Re: ESB Headquarters Fitzwilliam Street

Postby GregF » Wed Jun 17, 2009 1:34 pm

rumpelstiltskin wrote:A few years ago they "restored" the Sistine Chapel, which involved not only cleaning the ceiling but also repainting many areas where the paint had flaked off. They still call it Michelangelo's work even though some of it isn't. It seems to me the arguments here (less obviously absurd because it's part of the wearisome architectural orthodoxy) are tantamount to suggesting that Willem de Kooning should have been brought in to fill in the blanks in the ceiling in his own style.


very good analogy!
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Re: ESB Headquarters Fitzwilliam Street

Postby GregF » Wed Jun 17, 2009 1:35 pm

notjim wrote:We should rebuild the houses, it isn't about reproducing whats lost but restoring what has been damaged, the streetscape.

It would be silly to paint an old masters painting, John Currin excepted, but if someone tore a Vermeer, it would be repaired.


...and this one too!

After WWII the Poles recreated many medieval squares that were bombed to bits by the Nazi's. Today, they are seamless and folk don't bat an eyelid.
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Re: ESB Headquarters Fitzwilliam Street

Postby GregF » Wed Jun 17, 2009 1:47 pm

Gas how big business in swinging 1960's Ireland thought that it would add some high prestige to their business profile when they moved to addresses on the likes of Fitzwillian Sq, Merrion Square etc...
However and ironically they then proceeded to tear the architectural fabric and balls outta these historical areas. What a bog minded bunch.
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Re: ESB Headquarters Fitzwilliam Street

Postby johnglas » Wed Jun 17, 2009 9:45 pm

Isn't modernism now an historical style? (Discuss.)
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Re: ESB Headquarters Fitzwilliam Street

Postby jimg » Wed Jun 17, 2009 11:23 pm

I think so but doesn't it depend on the capitalisation?

I generally find you can't lose an argument after peppering its expression with terms like "modernism", "post-modernism" or even more effectively, the likes of "constructivism", "realism", etc.
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