Reply To: Office blocks @ Kilmainham Gaol & Royal Hospital

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John Callery


View on additional generated images on what Dublin Corporation, Treasury Holdings and Tony Reddy plan for to overlook “The Western Gateway into Dublin City”. Greg, you reckon the front elevation of this “adds substance” and gives Old Kilmainham
(Dublin’s last urban village) “a city like quality”. I recall the same words being said about the office blocks of the late 60s that still stand 40 years later all over the city and are totally alien to the context as surely the flat roofed (profile steel panels) Macro Blocks are in 2001. Any opinions on the “back” of this landmark building ! which faces the Pheonix Park, the Western Gateway into Dublin City and the residents of the South Circular Road.

Can you imagine the view of this from the Magazine Fort ! How would you like to live on St. John’s Terrace with this in your back garden ? These could be 3 blocks transplanted from Beaumont Hospital (minus the flues)- they will come later (on another layer) no doubt. Also as it states in the so called EIS “this development stems from detailed discussions with the senior architects and planners of Dublin Corporation”. Then as result of objections from all sides on this development the Corporation responded with their “additional information”. In other words the following was not even taken seriously or discussed at these cosy “pre planning decision” consultations between developer and Corpo only.


In Dublin Corporation’s (very responsible) “additional information” Jim Barret and Kiaran Rose demanded and I quote –

“This area formed by the junction of the South Circular Road, Inchicore Road and Kilmainham Lane contains an ensemble of buildings of the greatest architectural, historical and cultural importance. The area is also a gateway into Dublin City. Given the great importance and sensitivity of the site and all surroundings areas, a development of EXCELLENCE IS ESSENTIAL on this site.

Aside: This is Dublin Corporation correctly saying this is mediocre and architecturally of little merit.

Regarding the effect on the Protected Structures and other built environment, the EIS Architectural Heritage section states
(p157, para. 22.5) that:

“The proposed development does not physically impact on the buildings (nearby), but it will drive a wedge between the buildings and their physical and historical environment. Remedial and mitigation measures are therefore design issues and should be addressed accordingly”.

To quote further:

The critical issues arising in this development are as follows:
 The effect of the proposed development on the ensemble of buildings of great architectural, historical and cultural merit and the related urban space and achieving a better architectural and urban design solution.
 Achieving a better mix of uses.
 Protecting adjoining residential amenity.
 Providing for greater use of public transport also cycling, walking etc.

Having regard to the National Importance of the site and surrounding area.
(e.g. opposite a National Monument and the adjoining range of other protected structures all in juxtaposition), the proximity of the gaol alone which is of national significance in the history of the state, means that the immediate environs of the gaol is of greater significance in terms of the historical development of the nation than is the case with any other National Monument. Also regarding the extensive nature of the proposed development and para. 22.5 of the EIS, the applicant is requested to submit:

(a) Alternative architectural proposals which would be more in character with and WOULD ENHANCE the nearby Protected Structures and in particular Kilmainham Gaol. Such proposals should be of ACHITECTURAL AND URBAN DESIGN EXCELLENCE and have a character of solidity (with a high solid to void ratio), simplicity and elegance which would compliment (and not compete) with the Protected Structures and related urban space.

Aside: This is Dublin Corporation now saying that this proposal offers little architectural merit / urban design excellence ! yet it’s still permitted with minor modifications by the senior officials of Dublin Corporation.

(b) Alternative proposals to be submitted which would provide for the proper integration of the proposed development with the adjoining public realm.

Aside: The same development came back Christmas Eve 2000 and its density increased by 40,000 ft sq. Total “accommodation” now 650,000 ft sq.

The applicant is requested to submit proposals for a greater mix of uses on site. Residential uses and / or a hotel should be considered.

……the result (after mitigating and remedial work)! of the above is what you can see… basically Dublin Corporation binned their own “additional information” along with 2000 objections and also went against the wishes of the elected representatives of the entire Dublin City Council who represent the people of Dublin City. They took out the original plans + an extra 40,000 ft.sq. and sanctioned this development.

Incidentally, most of us in Kilmainham are aware of the great legacy Jim Barret (Dublin City Architect) left for Limerick and the nation in his tenure as Limerick City Architect when he oversaw the restoration and appropriate development of and surrounding King John’s Castle. Limerick Corporation refused planning permission for a hotel opposite King John’s Castle saying “the scheme as presented is too big and out of character with the historical context. Its ultra modern design is at odds with the mature historical setting surrounding the Castle” how would Limerick Corporation have reacted to the Macro Blocks right opposite King John’s Castle?

Kilmainham would gladly swap the Macro Blocks for the much required tourism and local facility that a hotel would represent. Model flat roofed retro-fit office blocks are OK for Dublin’s Kilmainham Gaol but a tourism development that Kilmainham cries out for would not be permitted in Limerick.

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