Re: Re: O’ Connell Street, Dublin
Yes there is little question that the poor quality and incoherence of the public realm along here is a contributing factor to the mixumgatherum uses and presentation that have proliferated along this stretch for years. Why invest in your premises when the council upholds similar, if not worse, standards that your own?
The reinstatement of the Wide Streets Commission shopfront here is a ground-breaking development. In proportion, detailing, materiality and relationship with the upper floors it is nothing short of exemplary. The Wicklow granite is eye-wateringly good and the masonry construction is robust and substantial. It, along with the major works carried out to the upper facade, deserve some in-depth focus when it’s all completed. I believe the arch-headed Georgian grid windows will be arriving very shortly.
I wonder at the wisdom of this however. Normally I would welcome this return to quality…such an antidote from the assorted plastic crap that goes for modern shopfronts.
However, this feels a little strange. The proportions are odd when one stands in front of the finished product. The entrance is quite narrow and I wait to see whether fenestration and doors make its look pokey.
I wouldn’t be concerned about the shopfront’s relative incongruity in its current state. The critical intersection between it and the first floor has yet to be finished, making it look somewhat isolated – a sense heightened by the equally unfinished channelled pier to the laneway corner. Both of these will seamlessly integrate the new frontage with the wider building when finished.
I also think we firmly must get away from the perceived necessity of expansive glazed frontages on all of our streets. It is becoming akin to the scourge of attention-deficiency in the social media world, where every ground floor must be visibly, brazenly ‘active’. The most pleasant streets in any city are those that exhibit a mixture of predominantly active, moderately active, and a small percentage of inactive frontages. There is a multitude of service uses, including a plethora further down Bachelors Walk, that are much more suited to moderately active frontages such as this than exposing all of their goings-on to the street.
But I agree that a high grade café or food use (including food products) that plays on the premium that a heritage frontage implies (or should do, and doesn’t in Dublin’s case) is suited to this unit. Indeed, this is now the thinking of the owner, but I believe an arrangement had already been entered into with the proposed yoghurt people. Still, it’s a quirky use that facilitates public access and relies heavily on internal aesthetics – if they get it right.
It absolutely baffles me why a decent operator won’t take that other corner unit by the horns and turn it into a high turnover premium beverage and confectionary shop. The new Peacock Green on Lord Edward Street, another postage stamp outlet, plays on a tried and tested Victorian marketing ploy – stuffing your windows to the gills with eye-watering confections. They can barely manage the crowds in there.