Re: Re: A New Knowledge Campus for the Customs House Area
I think there shouldn’t be a rush to fill in the docks (when they’re gone, they’re gone), but if most of the water body is retained as a ‘moat’ or ‘canal’ around a central ‘island’ development, then you have the advantage of both the water feature (reflective, could look at it for hours,etc) and useful development along your lines Brian in the centre. One of the big mysteries of the docks is that the vernacular language of dockland architecture (e.g. tall, gabled structures) has been dumped for international corporate booooooooring stuff. (Comment from STW?)
The duck pond in University college Dublin, is the closest thing to an open sewer you can get. But it is still water, and yeah, I do sit there and gaze at it for hours. In fact, I would travel a long distance simply to sit and do that. There is a scheme already developed by DDDA to create steps down to the water directly in front of the Customs house. To use the water more. The question for me, is if we can still accomodate closeness to water in the Docklands environment, but utilise the space created by closing in these quays, to create a centre of gravity. Something that would compete with O’Connell Street and establish a new hub further down the Liffey. We are almost afraid in Dublin to challenge the primacy of O’Connell street as the only central hub. It is as if O’Connell Street is sacred, and nothing should be done to disturb its importance in the hierarchy. As I said, we made a complete screw up with Smithfield. As a space today it is liveless. The thing I am wondering about is, are we brave enough yet in Ireland to do the ambitious step forward and do the large open space thing at all. The image attached is of a space in Helsinki which had the kind prominence and importance in the whole city of Helsinki, which I think a new square for Customs House Quay could and should have.
There are all sorts of things this new urban space for the Docklands could have, besides a car traffic tunnell running underneath it. I always thought the Metro plans tried to reinforce an existing and not very attractive ‘main drag’ we have in Dublin. Putting stops in St. Stephens Green, O’Connell St, Parnell St and so forth. I feel sure that it displays our lack of vision in Dublin. We are really, really stupid when it comes to planning our cities. The Metro Stops should be in this new urban square for Customs House Quay. If people want from the Metro wanted to get to O’Connell Street then they could walk from Customs House Quay to O’Connell street. This would enable us to activate all the street frontage between Customs house quay and O’Connell Street. Creating further value, further jobs and further enterprise. Then redundant buildings like that of Irish Life on Abbey street would soon be knocked down and re-built.
The Metro stop should not be in Stephens Green. It should be in Merrion Square. It would then drag people down Nassau street away from that disgusting mess we call our premier street, Grafton Street. In my book, Grafton Street is fine if you want to drink booze and puke, but lets explore other parts of the city. The Merrion Square stop would service the financial district around Baggot St and all of that community of business suits wouldn’t be left so isolate as they are now. Despite the fact they are one of the main economic generators still left within the country as a whole. Then you would see Sean Dunne’s site in Ballsbridge begin to be activated by being serviced with proximity to public transport. Further north there should be a stop somewhere around Croke Park and activate that whole area east of the Mater hospital. (One could still possible swan neck and take in Phibsboro . . . it would only be an extra short mile of underground tunnel to be built) Then the Metro project would really be worth doing, because it would be un-locking the potential of large parts of very worthwhile real estate in Dublin city. The current Metro plan gives us too little back for our investment, in terms of urban regeneration.
If our publically spent money on projects such as Metro is only used to reinforce an already pain-in-the-arse, St. Stephens Green to Parnell Square axis, that every one in Dublin is sick to death of . . . then all of our public representatives and public planners should be taken out and shot one by one. It may have to come to that yet. We are not getting anything at all back for our money. We are only reinforcing the same old miserable status quo. I would love to see a McDonalds and a Burger King have enough business to open up in Customs House quay. That is what I liked so much about the Irish Times project in D’olier Street. The Irish Times proper is now housed in a sharp new looking building at Tara Street. It is a boost for Tara Street, and a site is free now on D’olier street to be re-invented. There are options created, not the opposite. The Metro plan didn’t open up any new options for Dublin City. It only threw good tax payers money after bad. (Something we had a habit of doing in the Celtic Tiger) This is why I am so disillusioned with planners in Ireland. And architectural consultants who keep their heads down.
Brian O’ Hanlon
Actually, now that I look at one of the aerial photos of George’s Dock, Custom House Quay I posted above . . . I am even more convinced that the Metro stop should be in George’s Dock rather than in O’Connell Street. Because you get out of the Customs House Quay Metro stop and you walk across the road and you are in Connolly Station or Busarus Station. Or visa versa, anyone who jumps on a dart in Bray or somewhere, can change at Customs house quay, to grab a Metro out as far as the Airport. Someone who arrives on a train to Spencer Dock station, has only to walk up past Mayor Square and get a Metro out as far as the airport.
Bring back the Brits I tell you. Then were much better at this, than us poor peasant Irish.