Re: Re: The Skehan/Sirr plan

Home Forums Ireland The Skehan/Sirr plan Re: Re: The Skehan/Sirr plan


OK, I’ve re-read the articles, without doubt, they are absolutely fascinating.

I wonder whhat happened to the debate that the authors called for?

In a nutshell, the Skehan/Sirr manifesto is that: ”There is a need to plan for the future that is more likely to happen – the continued urbanisation of the eastern region – instead of trying to prevent it.”

I think ”more likely to happen” is a polite way of saying inevitable! The danger with adopting this mantra is that inevitability seeps into the thinking at every level, if you let it in the door at all. What will be the next ”future that is more likely to happen”? the next inevitable trend that it will be hopeless to resist.

We’re living on a small island where communication is now instant and travel times from even the remotest urban centre are capable of being reduced to just a couple of hours, but still we want to see one part of the island as having a favoured location over another. When that condition genuinely existing, in previous centuries, we still managed to distribute the urban centres around the island in a reasonably balanced way.

What I see as wrong with current spacial planning in this country is not the motorway network fanning out of Dublin, or the investment in a rail network that does much the same, or the slightly fanciful concept of ‘Balanced Regional Development’, it is the failure to hold the line around our urban centres. We just refuse to deal with sprawl.

Obviously this is a political issue, as Skehan/Sirr assert, but it is also a Urban Planning and even an Architectural issue.

IMO we need to develop strong urban models that have strong outer edges. As long as the edge is always the weakest element, the urban centre will always be tempted to spill out. Even strong urban edges will, in time and with growth, be supplanted but this type of growth can be periodic (in numbers of decades), predictable and organic, like tree rings, not constant and malignant like a tumour.

Every debate about urban form is inevitably hijacked by the particular conditions of particular examples. We need to look at the problem in a more abstract way.

I’ve often thought that it would be a useful exercise to design a new town/small city from scratch on a open site, not ancilliary to anything else, just out there on it’s own. We’re probably the only generation, since civilization began, that doesn’t do this. What would the elements be? How would a compact new small city differ from historic models? How would we deal with cars? Would it have edges (gunter’s would) ?

Maybe, since there isn’t going to be much else going on for a while, one of our planning institutes would sponsor a competition!

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