Reply To: National Photographic Archive
Possibly the most successful building in the city centre out of the boom years – it looks stunning, especially contrasted with the Mansion House.
I advocate building in an older style or replicating in only strictly limited areas where the character of a place is sullied by a modern intrusion. Craig you say that ‘facadism’ can be shrouded in subjective arguements – but of course it is, by definition architecture and planning is a subjective process – building while taking account of the surrounding environment. Were it not subjective and we had a blanket ban as it were on pastiche, we’d currently have a glass and stone wall sticking its nose into the set-piece of Leinster House and the institutions instead of the elegant classical addition made to the northern end of the house as part of the extension.
I remember when this issue was raised before about O’Cll St, in a fit of heated nievity I suggested that replica designs in high-Victorian or Georgian styles be used to replace the RDH, Fingal, the derelict site and Dr Quirkeys – at the time I frankly didn’t know the upper end as well as I thought, and so now in the knowledge of the myriad of architectural styles and materials that prevail and the vast tracts that require development, I genuinely would not advocate building replicas here – there’s no point building falsely where it will make little impact; by saying that, yes I imply that replicas should be used with extreme caution, we value authenticity too much to meddle about with it with abandon.
Of course modern architecture works well next to older structures, of course it does, and a well-designed modern building could relate to the WSC buildings on the EBS site as well as a replica, just in a different way. The point is that it would not contribute to the street as a whole to have one single modern building on it. It takes away the character of the place, it muddles up the nature of the street, just like the Ulster Bank on College Green, that wrecks the historic nature of the setting and the vista of fine Victorians up to the Central Bank, as does Penneys on O’Cll St on that crucial corner site next to the GPO and in the same stretch of the street as its finest and most coherent terraces. These are two classic instances where replicas are entirely fitting and appropriate.
As for the issue of accuracy and attention to detail, really its a non issue – it can be done, plain and simple, faithful replicas are not difficult in expert hands. Steps etc are irrelevant too, not least because they never existed here, indeed I support the idea of uniform, entirely modern shopfronts along the street, contrasting with the upper floors.
In relation to the idea of building ‘old’ for the sake of it, well that would be just ridiculous. I don’t suggest building Georgian buildings on Westmoreland because I like ‘oldness’, but because they would ‘fill in the gaps’, complete what the originals are trying to do i.e. create a cohesive composition, and would complement them. Just as Zoe Devs’ buildings reassemble Mountjoy Square, a few replicas on Westmoreland could recreate what is almost there already.
I too enjoy the layers of contributions made to the city over the past 3 centuries, and enjoy contemporary structures just as much – but I do not like bad planning. And to indicate that I’m not totally biased in favour of ‘the olden days’ I think large areas of Nassau St are ripe for redevelopment in the modern idiom, such is the bumbling haphazard nature of the place and the extent of the poor modern buildings on it; likewise vast tracts of the older quays to the west badly need some decent modern work.