Re: Re: Docklands/IFSC, the DDDA & Frank McDonald

Home Forums Ireland Docklands/IFSC, the DDDA Re: Re: Docklands/IFSC, the DDDA & Frank McDonald


I’m going to resurrect this thread because I can find nowhere better to comment.

I’ve spent a good bit of time running up the quays and around the surrounding areas in the last few weeks and I must say I really think much of the criticism of the redevelopment of the docks is seriously misguided.

The DDDA was tasked with creating a mixed use, family friendly urban quarter, built to a sustainable density, a flagship regeneration project for the city of Dublin.

I disagree with people’s comments about the height of buildings in the new docklands quarter. And I feel people are using an absolutely flawed argument for building higher.

First of all density: The city is sprawling out to the west in a relentless tide but people calling for high rise development to counter this are totally misguided.

The only way to arrest our urban sprawl is to convince people that city living is an attractive alternative to the established paradigm of the suburban, car dependent home.

There is now an established cycle in the UK and Ireland of living in the city centre when you’re young and as you grow older and economic and familial circumstances change there is an inevitable drift to the suburbs. The city centre is dominated by short tenure, young, economically disadvantaged and immigrant populations. This constant flux is labelled the conveyor effect and totally defeats attempts at community generation.

The only way to combat this is to create family friendly, higher density models for living in the city centre which are attractive to families convincing the people that the city centre is clean, safe, and has every amenity to allow us bring up our children there.

Family friendliness is achievable with things like: Secure private communal gardens, Parks, large balconies, lifts capable of handling families and buggies, plentiful storage, Safe, well lit streets, pocket parks, convenient local retail and health and leisure uses and quality, socially varied schools.

In the case of the docklands, the established height was a just response to creating a sense of enclosure to the river, while respecting the existing fabric of the city on both sides of the river, making the scale of buildings in new developments sympathetic to their receiving environment. Perhaps the buildings facing the river could have been taller given the width of the Liffey.

The newly creating streets and open spaces encourage permeability and provide an attractive pedestrian-orientated urban environment while the ratios of street width to building height allow sunlight penetration to the ground plane, residential courtyards and apartments in the lower storeys. The masterplan is also faced with the serious problem of naming height limits – if it does so every developer will attempt to build every building to this height – each one with a solid statutory grounding to argue that they should be allowed to this level – it is therefore extremly difficult to give height guidelines in statutory planning.

There is also now a string of landmark developments taking shape which are beginning to give the area increased legibility and sense of focus and place. Alto Vetro, Grand Canal Square, the new Liebeskind theatre, the Aires Mateus hotel and rounding the corner the new Calatrava bridge (please hurry) will give access to the incredibly enigmatic form of Kevin Roches new Conference centre.

I often moan about this desire to attract starchitects to a city but I must admit the new theatre is very exciting and certainly different, the hotel, while a poor rendering of its original concept looks quite well, the square is shocking but I think its great and the conference centre is to my enormous surprise looking as if it may be a fantastic civic addittion to the city.

I honestly think they’re slowly, slowly creating a nice, dense city quarter which will continue to develop, hopefully with some of the early building efforts getting makeovers or replacements. But overall I am quite impressed with the regeneration of the area.

Admittedly the height of buildings in the area is monotonous but this is a product of many factors and I often wonder if the people who are so quick to criticise this monotony and the density in the docklands would be particularly willing to live there, and more importantly raise a family there if density and heights were increased to the levels which they suggest.

Perhaps people could post what they think might improve the area.

I for one would love to see marinas, along the line of Marseilles’ vieux port fill the river with gently bobbing masts and cafes line the campshires.

Phew, long post.

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