Re: Re: Welcome to Ireland’s ugly urban sprawl

Home Forums Ireland Welcome to Ireland’s ugly urban sprawl Re: Re: Welcome to Ireland’s ugly urban sprawl


Two guys are running away from a bear, but you don’t need to run faster than the bear, you just need to run faster than the other guy.

This is basically how we run our spatial design courses here in Ireland. Look people, back in 1994, when I was a young student doing a course in architectural design in this country,… for the four months between September and Xmas, I had no guidance in my efforts to do a couple of projects,… why was this? Well basically because, one of my tutors was too busy building the competitions they had just won, and my other appointed tutor had just began a very popular TV programme on RTE about houses and architecture. When my xmas assessment came around, I presented the work I had managed to too, without any form of guidance from my course, and was bluntly accused of being lazy and not trying hard enough. In other words, it was all put on my lap – that I was in effect responsible for my own lack of guidance in a degree course. Of course, when a young man of c. 19/20 is told that by a person in authority – they tend to just take it on the chin, and think, well this person is older and wiser than I am. What you don’t see at 19 or 20 is how you are being ‘measured’ on the scale that the design course sets for itself – not on the scale that would relate to the specific individual’s progress. The amount of progress the individual has made over a set length of time – related to where they are coming from, and potentially where they could go some day. It is very possible, for two students to make exactly the same progress in a design course, to do precisely the same amount of work and effort, but because one may have started off much better than the other, the guy who started off worse, is penalised because of not meeting some bullshit standards.

It is just as important for a design course to produce students, with ‘Grade D’ as it is to produce those with grade ‘A’s. Who knows, maybe the ‘D’ guy worked twice as hard for it, and may therefore go much further than anyone ever thought. Many years down the road, I can now see how wrong my acceptance of my conditions were. After xmas, the only excuse ventured by the faculty, was that both of those tutors, had decided to take extended leave from teaching in the course, at which stage of course, my game was up for that year,… and for ever afterwards, I was branded in that institution a bit of a waster, a goofer and of no merit or ability design or spatially wise. Indeed, that is how I began to view myself – after all, the ‘experts’ had just come to that conclusion. This was really the conclusion come to by several trained professionals, not by myself – who was I to argue with them? As I said, at 19/20 you tend to take these things at face value, rather than question the authority. When I talk about a ‘lack’ of a well established and healthy spatial design tradition, this is mainly what I getting at – a lack of ability to teach aswell as to practice. A kind of ‘contempt’ for the youth and the potential contained within that youthful talent – as if it posed some sort of ‘threat’ to the establishment or something. Well, maybe it does, but that is precisely what one must do, keep re-building, re-training, changing what went before when something better comes along. Our spatial design professionals, as basic human beings, lack ability to see something that is grossly under-valued at the moment – the youth. To invest the time and effort into that project, and watch your investment grow into something over the years. Something that will persist and survive long after all of the roads are built. It seems their best solution is to import talent en masse from abroad, if and when you need it – than to grow your own naturally. It is the educational equivalent, to getting Chinesse Take-Out instead of making your own dinner.

This is what I mean, the country is choc-full of half-baked (or even raw, un-cooked) talents in design of space – that is our failure as a country – as educators. That is the strength of the British and Anglo-Irish tradition – the ability to see a something worth investing time and effort into – and later on, seeing the rewards of your investment. We tend to give up way too easy in Ireland, throw in the towel before we have even got as far as the ring. The fact is, that in an area like spatial design – which is already weighed in favour of those of whom have access to mature people in that field,… well, I will just let you use your own imaginations in that sense,… to what it means to be hung out to dry,… without tutors, while you watch others speed past. That is why I keep on refering to the teaching of basic fundamentals to do with design and space in our courses. Because given how un-level the playing pitch already is, the young people who really could make a difference, need those fundamentals badly,… but are not provided with them,… just a system that spits you out, like a discarded bit of McDonald’s packaging or similar. In other words, the real wealth of this country, not the roads, not the helicopters, the peach jobs or the money – the young talent that has the ability to make everyones’ living conditions much better,… is now being flushed down the toilet. Money just serves to raise the conditions of a very few people,… and to provide a society which is even more out of balance, than the one we already live in. That is basically all that any politian needs to know or should ever know about spatial design, and that is the simple lesson that needs to be driven home. I don’t accept the ‘standards’ that the Irish spatial planning and design tradition sets itself – it sets the bar too low for what this country could achieve – and it just doesn’t serve the community as a whole as we progress into our future. I am referring precisely to stories like my own as represented above, and stories of many more young individuals like me. If we just can stay focussed on this issue, for the next few years, instead of being side-tracked and going down all kinds of cul-de-sacs, then the future is very bright. On the other hand, if we just do our usual half-arsed attempt, then expect the worse.

Brian O’ Hanlon.

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