Reply To: Smithfield, Dublin

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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!

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