A New Knowledge Campus for the Customs House Area

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    • #710627
      garethace
      Participant

      Posted by PVC King here:

      https://archiseek.com/content/showthread.php?t=7672&page=2

      The real challenge though is to figure out what is going to be done for the 200,000 unemployed construction industry professionals and tradesmen?

      Read on, I have come up with a viable solution to solve that problem. I am sure the vision I describe below is nothing original, but I do believe the audacity and scale of the vision is exactly right for the kind of jamb that Ireland is stuck in at the moment. I cannot see any reason not to roll the dice one last time and see if we can maneuver our way out of the current mess.

      I would suggest that the Anglo HQ be completed and space be made available for small start up Financial companies operating much the way that the principal of the law library works.

      There is another way to look at this, which demands a good bit of lateral thinking. One could complete the North Wall Quay project, in order to accomodate the Abbey Street Irish Life and Permanent occupants in a brand new facility further down the docklands. That would free up the existing Irish Life site on Abbey street to be re-conceptualised and re-built from the ground up. I know that might seem like a lot of demolition, but think of everything you could do with the Abbey street site. In fact, while we are at it, there is enough of land at North Wall quay to relocate the entire occupancy from the green glass AIB buildings and offer that site for renewal also. Not full demolition of course, but it could be upgraded and added to.

      The existing green glass AIB buildings could be made more permeable and open, more vibrant and happening. It could be given a name and branded, at least something better than 1980s green glass AIB buildings. That is the problem with the docklands at the moment. The first buildings that greet you on the way down are completely dead and inaccessible. This is the message that Ireland is sending out to the whole world. Lack of vision, lack of planning and crap architecture. There is plenty of space further down the docklands area to accomodate that kind of builiding. But up near the customs house, the aim should be to accomodate more and smaller business units. If the business demands more space, then they should be accomodated further down the docklands area.

      If we really want to do something serious about the CO2 emissions in the Dublin Docklands, this is how I would approach it. To me, this is common sense and is sustainable development. My plan would contain a role for the architects, the Dublin Docklands Authority, the Dublin City planning department and the existing Irish property developers. I have called it ‘Custom House Docklands Campus’ for the sake of giving it a name.

      What I intend it to become is a nation wide and worldwide hub for new business innovation and technology. Having proximity to so many educational institutions around Dublin centre is going to make this very vibrant indeed. In fact, with the right mix of housing and expanded educational use buildings the area could begin to attract graduate students from all over the globe. The area might become the equivalent of a Standord or a Harvard for the 21st century. This supply of young, energetic and highly educated people would really fuel something special in this area of Dublin.

      I am looking in particular at the old green glass AIB buildings near busarus, the bus station, the Irish Life centre and the CHQ building. That collection of buildings need to be made to work together in some sort of intelligent fashion.

      The CHQ building has a large open dock area beside, which isn’t working at all. That should be filled in and a grand new urban space created instead. I mean a vast open urban space, something really comprehensive. It seems that the space at the moment is trying too hard to be sympathetic to some BS about the ‘heritage of water or something like that. But if you look at the way that people have to use that space at the moment. All they are doing is sneaking around the edges of that large open dock. The space is not being used to its best advantage at all. In fact it is completely miserable.

      If this space where the open dock is now, could be sorted out. Then Mayor Square and Mayor Street could begin to work also. I would completely remove the retail use from the CHQ building itself. The CHQ building is destined to become the ultimate incubator knowledge hub destination. It could be like the meeting rooms for the whole area around here. A place for the new business to display their wares and advertise to the world. Instead, at the moment it offers one of the creepiest shopping experiences anywhere in the world. You expect a mechanically operated banshee or something jump out at you and scream while walking down the mall of the CHQ building at the moment. You would be afraid of your life to enter any of the stores in the CHQ building, in case they are inhabited by vampires or witches.

      An awful lot of area on the eastern aspect of the green glass IFSC complex could be made available for alteration and changes too. There could be an opportunity to do a couple of really nice high rise tower buildings there, and still have loads of space left for a grand big urban plaza. The nice thing about that urban plaza, is that it would have the Sean O’Casey pedestrian bridge feeding into it also.

      On the south bank of the liffey where the Sean O’Casey bridge touches, I would re-develop the site used at the moment for social housing units. The redevelopment of that area, would pull the new square beside CHQ closer to the Pearse St and the Trinity Science building. The whole area would begin to operate like one big hub of innovaton and business. Who knows, in the future we might even look at the Canary Wharf style Ulster bank buildings opposite the customs house. I am sure that block could be made more permeable in some kind of way.

      The space where the open dock is at the moment is ideal for a location to create a new tunnel to take Traffic away from Amiens Street and the Customs house area. One could divert all the traffic underneath the river. The traffic could be deposited on the south side in somewhere like Mount Street. This is where I see a role for the Dublin City planning department in working all of that out.

      If this traffic issue going from North to South at the moment was sorted out, the whole Customs house area and IFSC complex could be reclaimed by pedestrians, and users of many forms of public transportation coming and going in all directions. For the first time in generations, the Customs house could become a real life present building in Dublin city. The Customs house building could become the central ballroom and catering area for the large Custom House campus area.

      What is killing the docklands area at the moment, is the fact that it doesn’t have a grand sort of ‘business campus’ which is close enough to O’Connell street to pull people down in its direction. The LUAS made an awful mess around Busarus. It added one more complication to what had always been an almighty mess. If you try to navigate into the docklands area on foot there is absolutely no space for the pedestrian to use at all. That is the gateway to the docklands area, that is what the person engages with now. It is a disgrace to the entire nation of Ireland.

      Ideally speaking if this brand new knowledge economy hub could be linked to the airport in some fast and reliable way, all the better. Then we could link this campus for the Dublin docklands up to the rest of the world. (And to the new Dublin airport city being planned at the moment) For the time being that could be a high quality kind of bus of some kind, that made busing to and from the airport attractive to a international business customer.

      The bus station office block itself could be much better off used as an incubator unit for entreprise. It is going to waste being used as a closed, introverted office block accomodation for some government department. It should be an international flagship for Ireland’s new smarter economy. They should re-open the roof top restaurant above to serve as a further point of interaction for young businesses and the public in general.

      The main trouble with the whole Docklands masterplan is that it was formulated by a bunch of consultant architects working on commission who had no major stake in the end product itself. Or worse than that, by a group of accountants and financiers with Charles Haughey who could not understand urban space and/or the opportunities offered by audacious construction projects. At the moment the way the docklands space is managed it is only extracting about 10% of its full potential. There is no one at the moment able to come up with a more comprehensive plan to gain back the other 90%.

      The thing is, I have seen what one can do in reasonable expectations with construction – both civil projects and with urban renewable. We still have a couple of property developers in good enough shape, that the relocation of the Irish life building could happen. We have the planning department capable of coordinating all of this. The Dublin Docklands authority can see the vision from a pedestrian point of view. What the DDDA have in mind to do with the remainder of the docklands area, regarding pedestrians is very good. But they have left a god awful mess behind them up near the customs house area. Getting the customs house area is the whole key to re-vitalising the entire docklands area. It demands top priority.

      The great thing about the scheme which I desribe is that it gives back something to everyone. It gives back Dublin city centre a sense of its own identity and purpose. It gives the planners an opportunity to direct property developers at something useful and sustainable. It would give the developers a direction in which to throw their money. It would give employment to a large chunk of the unemployed construction industry.

      It gives Ireland a sustantial opportunity to kick start its new smarter economy. It gives Irish Life and Permanent a new accomodation at North Wall Quay. It gives AIB and whoever else the same. When the Arnott sites gets under way, it will further reinforce the elements I have described above. What my scheme for a ‘Customs House Docklands Campus’ does more than anything, is it suddenly gives a reason for being, to the commercial projects now stopped down on North Wall Quay.

      If we could implement this Customs House Docklands Campus project, we could get Sean Dunne, Liam Carroll, Treasury Holdings, McNamara and a few more besides working again. That would take a huge load off of the loan books at our toxic banking institutions. It would mean that the loans outstanding are going somewhere, they have the potential all of a sudden to pay for themselves. In a way that would be sustainable. In a way that would save the country millions of tonnes of CO2 emissions, because the Customs House campus is so well served with transport. We are so close in many ways to achieving this vision, one could almost reach out and touch it.

      The Dublin Docklands authority could do all of their nice pedestrian stuff to make the Customs house docklands campus work. The architects have already had a dry run for this, with the Digital Hub area in the Liberties. Money could at least be made available to commission some design work and hold an exhibition on this. The old Docklands masterplan was conceived for a different time, when Dublin didn’t contain any people walking the streets who were not white and Irish. Laptopls weren’t commonly available, neither was wireless networks or the internet. In short, the docklands masterplan has more than begun to show its age. I saw pedalo’s (little boats that you peddle around in water) becoming the central feature of the existing docklands area campus. I would criticise this vision for the docklands area, I don’t think it is being used to its full potential.

      So why aren’t we working towards this kind of vision. What exactly is stopping us? While Gerry McCaughey might have made a fine DDDA chief managing director in a lot of ways, I cannot see what qualified him as the person with the ultimate vision to lead Ireland into a new smarter economy. What I have described above offers so much more potential. Furthermore, having completed the project it would serve as a template for almost every other city and town in the country, and pehaps even abroad. Ireland needs that profile nowadays. Ireland needs an ambitious and brave statement, to put its reputational on the international stage back on firmer footing.

      For all the good I can see in Gerry McCaughey’s appointment as a director of the DDDA, I cannot see how he was qualified to deliver what I am talking about. To deliver what I am talking about, requires someone who knows his/her way around. Someone with just the right kind of devious, lateral thinking brain. The other option of course, is to sit around like we are doing at the moment and twiddle our thumbs. At the moment, a lot of people favour that option. If that is the case, then Ireland can can be written off now. We will not become the centre for 21st century wealth, culture and excellence we hoped we had hoped for.

      Brian O’ Hanlon

    • #808125
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      This is where the old docklands masterplan really didn’t deliver a fraction of what it should have. While this picture is nice, it also tells me how poorly utilised the docklands is at the moment. This person sitting on the bench cannot come to the docklands to get a job, be inspired or go away with any wonderful reports of her experience there. Because there is sweet bugger all to report about – nothing happens there that is of any interest to anyone, either in Ireland or abroad.

      Brian O’ Hanlon

      [image upload fails, will try to fix shortly]

    • #808126
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      garethace/Brian, have you ever thought of running for election to Dublin City Council in order to put some of these ideas into practice?

    • #808127
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @Cathal Dunne wrote:

      garethace/Brian, have you ever thought of running for election to Dublin City Council in order to put some of these ideas into practice?

      imagine how big the feckin leaflets in the door would be… 😉

    • #808128
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Cathal,

      You would think I would add some action to my words and do that. I have a great deal of respect for the public representatives who do devote a good deal of their lives to such undertakings. I saw the posters around Dublin City to get involved in the new development plan for Dublin city. I promised myself I would get some submission together for that at least, with some drawings. But in the end I didn’t. I had some quite well worked out ideas also, like the above. It would have required me to come up with a few sketches. The medium of writing and real life public representation are different skills. Although, public servants do require assistance with drafting of policy. My time management in real life was never that good. To be a good public representative, you need to be able to manage your own time and resources well. I heard Eamon Ryan speak at Trinity college this year. It was the first time I ever heard the man speak and even though I wanted to be cynical and dismissive of the Green Party minister. Having heard him talk in real life, I gained a very positive impression of the man. Eamon Ryan sounded that day like one of the most articulate people we have in government right now.

      The point is, Eamon was able to juggle a speech for Trinity week, with several other things he was doing that week. He had to rush off somewhere else after the speech. Real public representatives somehow manage to juggle a lot of things. There is family life to fit in there somewhere too remember. Even though I like to take cheap shots at them for managing to appear at so many conferences. It is a real skill to be able to prepare something for each occasion. Tom Parlon is a man who can show up to all kinds of events and say a few words. He seems able to jungle a lot of different issues and audiences. Being more of a creature of habit myself, I wonder if I would be any good in the overall sense, as a public representative. A criticism was made of Michael Noonan at one stage, when he obtained leadership of Fine Gael briefly. Not being able to adjust his lifestyle to the new role. I heard Eamon Ryan speak that day because he was introducing Prof. David MacKay. I had to update my knowledge of energy conservation in all its aspects this year, as part of a review and re-design in general going on in the construction industry. At all levels, domestic and non-domestic. The more and more technical it gets, measuring insulation thicknesses on cylinders and what not, I wonder what energy conservation gains are to be obtained at master plan level? What should the big picture look like?

      I am content to work with calculations, details, the process of getting the job done. I am content to allow the big picture stuff to folk with better training and a different kind of brain to my own. If I could understand the concept of a Low Carbon Society better, I would like to be involved in building it. If you read the above piece about ‘Customs House Knowledge Campus’ it is basically a roll out plan for a large building project. It is the kind of thing one needs to get the ball rolling. To allow other experts to tell us, what are the restraining factors, what are the health and safety issues that have to be managed. What are the figures regarding rents, regarding construction and so forth. Then and some point, you are as well off to jump in and go and do it. Danninger were excellent in that regard as a company, perhaps too good. Trying to spend 0.25 billion Euro, build something 50 meters height on the river Liffey and hope that no one would notice. It seems to me, that as projects become larger and more central the more information you have to share about them.

      I recall, I heard Dick Gleeson use the expression ‘Low Carbon City’ a couple of years ago and that really flew over my head. It has taken me 2 years + hard study to even begin to change my thinking to see what he meant. The important point to bear in mind, is the idea started somewhere, it became known to the public planning director. Subsequently the idea reaches the general population and hopefully gets executed. We can try to disguise that fact, but it the normal course of events. It all depends on what part of the process you want to be involved in. In my case, that would mean further down the line from public bodies. I know a lot of other project managers and company executives working hard now to re-orientate their philosophy. It is a very tough process but a rewarding one too. There was a guy in the carpet manufacturing industry in the United States who began that process over a decade ago. He is now a leading expert in the field of sustainable manufacturing. I am interesting in companies such as Toyota and what efficiencies you can gain with those sorts of companies. I think at Danninger we were working towards similar kinds of efficiencies, in how we designed, in how we built. It involves getting a lot of people from the industry around the table at the same time. Trying to organise that into some meaningful conversation was the goal.

      That is a stage of involvement that public representatives never have to see. It is actually funny when you sit down with the people who are going to put together a piece of structure. You would be surprised how simple are the issues, that can throw a spanner in the works. I had a conversation about negative head water pumps the other day. I had a conversation about ESB connections with someone else. It appears as though the ESB cannot offer a night saving tariff for water heating, unless you go for an electric space heating boiler too. So in order to keep costs of running an apartment down as low as possible, you are forced to dis-improve the energy rating for the dwelling. On the one hand, you are thinking of bills the user of the end product will have to pay. On the other hand, you are punished by a scheme drafted up by a public institution. These are the kinds of things you see when you are in the industry. You simply are not aware of them, when working as a public representative. There is a great deal of project management and organisation to be done at industry level, before a low carbon future is within our grasp. I am more than content to remain in the industry and do what I can.

      Homebond, Kingspan etc, all are fine institutions. But you need knowledge in dealing with the whole assembly. You need some knowledge of being the builder, the developer. Kingspan might get there some day, but aren’t quite there yet. The objective of the Construction industry federation at the moment is to register a lot of contractors for energy retrofitting training and skill levels. The CIF is hoping to build on earlier success in running the safe pass scheme to tackle the issue of health and safety on sites. A lot of my ambition in publishing some bit of writing here, was to give some material for the young 20 something year olds to munch on. I tried to write my piece in a language of builders. That is different from the usual discussion you read in the newspapers and on TV. Builders tend to use words like ‘feck’ a lot, and worse. But I carefully avoided those sentences.

      Brian O’ Hanlon

    • #808129
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      It is worth offering another example here. I often sit down with various trades in order to decide upon specs and so forth for building roll out programs. To be honest, everyone tries to feather their own nest as best as they can. Sometimes the plumber runs off with the bowl of cream, other times it is the glazing contract, the electrician or who ever. I was having a look at the utilisation factors SEI embedded into the energy calculations for buildings. They are really there to ensure that the solar panel salesman doesn’t run off with the couple of thousand euros ear marked for attic insulation. Because the attic insulation guy is a more honest kind of guy, and has less time to cavort with his clients, to buy them lunches etc. This is the kind of fair play that good developers and builders can offer to the industry. While it is up to public bodies to draft good legislation. That legislation also has to be flexible enough. At some stage the responsibility must land on the shoulders of those in industry, who need to use their skills to ensure the best possible deal for Ireland Inc. is achieved.

      We need good communication between industry and the public policy makers on this sort of level. An example that really springs to mind is the CFL light bulb. The people who are in the light bulb business know that the CFL light bulb is only an accounting trick, to remove some carbon emissions off of our books. When you consider the added length of the supply chain to produce CFL light bulbs instead of ordinary light bulbs there is really no net saving in terms of energy or emissions. It reminds me of a point that Gerry McCaughey made about the DOE in the past. When Ireland switched its power stations over to run on gas, it made the books look quite clean for a while. Over night it appeared as if Ireland was succeeding to reduce its emissions. People trying to sell real energy saving solutions into the Irish market such as McCaughey, were wise to what was going on. I was actually quite encouraged that McCaughey had entered the public service earlier in the year. He is the right kind of person with industry level experience that the public service should include amongst its ranks. But the particular position that Gormley put him into wasn’t the right one. That is my trouble with the Green party in general. While the direction might be right overall, their ability to manage human resources seems limited.

      The whole idea of the SEI schemes from my study, is to prevent the dumping of inferior products onto the Irish market. In the long term we have proper performance information attached to all products being used to assemble a building project. Some of the pro-nuclear campaign doesn’t seem to understand that. Trying to do nuclear to compensate for lack of efficiency elsewhere is not an option. We have to be careful not to engage in wild solutions such as energy switching or huge renewable energy projects, simply to offset to poor energy performance of products we are using to build with. Also, the switching of all power production plants to gas fuel has in turn created a further problem of security of gas supplies. Gas now supplies 50% of the nation’s fuel. We are at the end of a very long pipeline in Ireland. We have to be careful that in switching to gas, we do not make it so expensive that fuels such as coal suddenly look attractive again. Even if the carbon tariff on a dirty fuel such as coal is high, if the price was much lower than gas, then the tarif would be worth paying! Similar problems in the supply chain were experienced when biofuels got mixed up with corn that people needed to eat. Whichever way you look at it, a green industry has as much a part to play as policy makers have.

      Brian O’ Hanlon

    • #808130
      Paul Clerkin
      Keymaster

      Interesting you touch on CFLs – and you’re right – it’s simply moving stuff from column a to column b

      Canadian research has found that the energy saved in using cfls is being offset by people turning up the thermosat a little in winter, as the bulbs arent emitting any heat – its negliable heat, but heat nontheless when its -30 does make a difference. So while they’re using less electricity, they’re using more gas.

    • #808131
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      I have outlined a couple of items below, which relate to public policy creation, industrial scale strategy and utility scale investments.

      Where did the CFL light bulb idea come from?

      There is nothing more fun than to endlessly take shots at light bulb energy saving fanaticism. (After all, it is like a development of the classic light bulb joke) David MacKay’s light bulb video is always good for a laugh.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRQB2YXUxvY

      I particularly enjoyed a recent blog post of his about plastic bottles. He is so cynical some times, it is really funny. But he is right.

      http://withouthotair.blogspot.com/2009/06/how-much-can-one-drinks-bottle-achieve.html

      The real point about light bulbs, is that LED technology is upon us. Philips have shut down their production plants in the UK, that make either ordinary light bulbs or CFL bulbs. The aspirations behind the CFL bulb weren’t too bad, if you know where it is coming from. When I read the UCD ERG consultation report for Part L energy conservation regulations 2008 I understood a lot better what is going on.

      http://www.environ.ie/en/Publications/DevelopmentandHousing/BuildingStandards/FileDownLoad,15660,en.pdf

      Only Fools and Horses

      As all kinds of products are rejected in other countries, as not being energy compliant, there will be an un-bearable desire on the part of builders in Ireland to take advantage of quick and easy deals, for bulk shipments of under performing parts. Kind of like ‘Only Fools and Horses’. I have seen what can go wrong when a load of non-standard cheap plastic ductwork from China was built into a project. Before the builder had a chance to catch the mistake, most of the work had been done. Trying to find a fix due the knock-on problems caused by one component meant cutting out hundreds of pieces of solid concrete. These things can happen on jobs, but you try to minimise it as much as possible.

      I think there was a rescue mission to the Hubble space telescope that almost came unstuck, when an in-conspicuous item, the service hatch door refused to close after the astronauts had performed the servicing. It was only a cheap item in the whole assembly, but it still treatened to compromise a whole multi-million dollar mission. I am all for economy in choosing the components of the assembly where possible. But one has to think these things through from a systems engineering point of view where possible. This is what exposure to the workings at industry level can help one to see.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systems_engineering

      Investment roll out in renewable generation

      If we are not careful in Ireland, we might be spending loads of money on renewable gadgets. Where the investment in renewables is only allowing us to go on being inefficient in other areas. On the other hand, take the example of the man living in a bungalow in the middle of Ireland somewhere. He likes to have his open fire and burn his logs, coal, turf or whatever. It is a social ritual for him for years. The solar panel technology on the market now, is an ideal way for this man to offset his carbon emissions in other areas. That is the sort of situation, where I think renewables do have a roll to play.

      The neat thing about putting a solar panel up on your bungalow too, is the fact that the owner of the dwelling can replace the unit himself when the time comes. But if the solar panel was on the roof top of a multi-dwelling development in a city centre, who is going to bother fixing or replacing the panel in a decade?

      Investment in renewable technology could be compared to investment in other things that go out of date quickly. Take computer technology as a good comparison. Renewable kit tends to go out of date very fast as progress in the technology marches on. I recall when I bought my first couple of computers, I made terrible buying decisions. I didn’t put enough space between my purchases at all. I think I ended up with a couple of systems, all of the same generation. Which didn’t allow me enough cash to benefit from later generations of computer technology.

      With PV solar technology, the flat screen TV revolution is driving down the price of PV solar panels. There is so much to know about PV technology. I mean that isn’t like the food supply chain problem, where suddenly corn that was destined for third world markets, ended up in first world markets being used as a substitute for petrol. With the PV technology, I think we are seeing a better synergy between a consumer product and a renewable energy generation product. It is about finding those synergies in the industrial supply chain and taking advantage of them. I read a blog post at gunter portfolio recently.

      http://guntherportfolio.com/2009/05/enphase-energy-and-tigo-energy-at-silicon-valley-photovoltaics-society/

      It mentioned a study done of existing PV installations on roofs. In one installation, whatever way the panels were wired together, one of the panels was under performing and that panel dragged down the performance of the entire installation. So in going for renewable technology, we need to treat it as a work in progress. We need to follow up with intense study and after sales analysis of how the things are performing. (I guess in practice that means programs run in the universities . . . Eirgrid will maintain, there is a tonne of engineering research to be done in this area) Certainly, if you listened to Howard Liddell of Gaia architects, he doesn’t think any of these technologies have a great life span at all.

      Industry versus Utility

      We need do develop efficiencies and energy awareness, I suppose, at all skill levels and trades. There is a tendency to think that consultant architects can somehow know all of this. That a really smart and energy aware designer can take us out of difficulty with some brilliant solution. But the truth is, if we allow our construction industry in Ireland to become too run down and in the dog house, in the long run, we stand to loose a lot. The construction industry in Ireland in needed badly to oversee standards in many stages of the process. They are responsible for efficiencies and savings that we cannot even begin to imagine. Certainly, a lot of the kids who play around with AutoCAD and draw buildings don’t see this.

      Then you can move from industry scale up to utility scale. Executives at ESB networks say that electricity is the fuel of the future. Much of the investment in the supply infrastructure is done already, by the nation of Ireland. It is great to be able to build high density mixed use development, in the right places, where people can walk to work etc. Having that mixed use development served by electricity makes the project so much more viable to do.

      Howard Liddell’s argument would seem to support the ESB networks argument for electricity as a fuel over the long haul. At least nothing is going to break down with the electricity network. Well, things will will break down, things will need replacement. But with the ESB, there is an maintenance support built around the utility which enables it to stay working. Contrast that to a lot of renewable installations, does anyone seriously re-visit the projects after 10 years and see how many of the gadgets still work. Or if they are working, that they are working to the full capacity. I mean we have all gone to school in secondary schools where gadgets have a tendancy to die two years after the school is opened.

      Then again, as one moves away from the city centre (in places where you have more space available) more emphasis aught to be placed on renewables and group heating etc. Adamstown for instance had the space available next to roads to lay all sorts of new utility lines down cheaply, as part of the general building roll out process. They managed to get the sequence planned in advance, and there is great savings to be made in that.

      South Facing Aspect

      There does seem to be some low hanging fruit available with providing south facing aspects to all dwellings. But then again, should that be more applicable in sites in the outer suburbs where you can manipulate one’s site layout more? ? ? The good thing about south facing aspect in dwellings, is that is something built into the dwelling for all time. It is not like the PV panel that goes out of date or is smashed up by vandals. That south facing aspect stays with the structure for all time.

      It seems to me that as you get in towards the central districts, you are already more sheltered. The micro-climate in central locations is different. The exposure to the external environment is much less usually, there are more party walls shared with neighbours and so forth. You are getting so many great savings already in terms of overall sustainability. Perhaps the energy conservation regulations should lighten up on the use of electricity as a fuel? In central locations, is the south facing window in all dwellings really that necessary?

      This is something that consultant architects love to recite like it was a dogma these days. They like to look down their noses are existing built dwellings that don’t have this wonderful south facing aspect. But does every single dwelling in the inner city project need to have this manditory south facing aspect. If one can accept the thesis that a south facing window is for passive solar gain, then why shouldn’t other dimensions of sustainability be taken into consideration. Such as the fact, that someone living in the town centre might take their bicycle to go to the shops.

      Based on my experience working at industry level, I would be much more in favour of designing the best bicylce parking possible, than restricting designers to all south facing dwellings. I know a lot of central developments, where the bicycle was only an after thought. I was actually shocked myself, at the level of demand there is today in new developments in towns for bicycle spaces when buying or renting units. We existing multi-dwelling designs we simply cannot give everyone the bicycle they so desperately desire. Public authorities and architects should focus more on things like that for dense inner urban development. Rather than getting all high and mighty about ‘south facing’ aspect.

      Another thing we need to do in inner urban locations, is improve footpaths. If optimized properly they should become the primary arterties of movement for the public to use. The trick though is to avoid un-healthy pedestrian experiments such as Temple Bar, Grafton Street and Henry Street. They are places which remind me of the statement: No one goes there anymore, it is too crowded.

      Brian O’ Hanlon

    • #808132
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      It is worth offering another example here. I often sit down with various trades in order to decide upon specs and so forth for building roll out programs. To be honest, everyone tries to feather their own nest as best as they can. Sometimes the plumber runs off with the bowl of cream, other times it is the glazing contract, the electrician or who ever. I was having a look at the utilisation factors SEI embedded into the energy calculations for buildings. They are really there to ensure that the solar panel salesman doesn’t run off with the couple of thousand euros ear marked for attic insulation. Because the attic insulation guy is a more honest kind of guy, and has less time to cavort with his clients, to buy them lunches etc. This is the kind of fair play that good developers and builders can offer to the industry. While it is up to public bodies to draft good legislation. That legislation also has to be flexible enough. At some stage the responsibility must land on the shoulders of those in industry, who need to use their skills to ensure the best possible deal for Ireland Inc. is achieved.

      To catch one little thing on this point here. Who is best positioned at industry level to deliver the most value for money? Consultant architects are un-believeably bad here. They are too often afforded the luxury of pretending to be the client, when in fact they aren’t. I have seen architects made very good investment decisions on behalf of their clients. But I have also seen terrible decisions made.

      An executive at ESB networks made a point recently, that in the 1990s the structure of the ESB changed. Networks was separated off into its own business unit, away from the remainder of the ESB. That enabled networks to undertake its own programs of massive investment into Ireland’s power infrastructure. Bear in mind that this investment was done using public money, and that borrowing was done at a much cheaper price that was private developers could with property. Anyhow, the ESB executive compared his industry with that of tele-communications. Eircom was never dis-assembled in time, to allow the investment to flow into building an infrastructure in Ireland for communications.

      I keep getting back to the fact, that when you work for a construction company in Ireland you have the independence often to go and do research or investigation into areas you would not be allowed near, if you worked for a small consultant architect. But young architects do not want to be involved in the construction industry. They want to hang out in small trendy workshops and atelier situations with like minded design brains. When I did project management for a builder, it enabled me to clock up 60 solid hours of intensive, on-the-job health and safety meetings. This involved my interfacing with at least 50 different contractors or trades on some jobs. There is no way that the business model for a small consultant architect is set up to facilitate that. That is why I raise the point, as to their in-appropriate-ness as good managers of the clients money. Architecture Schools and educators should be raising this point too, to students leaving their faculties this year.

      I visited some recently completed public housing projects last year in Dublin, built by high profile architectural practices. I was trully shocked at what I saw at detail level. Although many of the overall designs deserved enormous credit in terms of their spatial layout. At a masterplan level I would certain be the first to have my ears pricked forward when the consultant architect made his/her presentation. When it comes to putting together the building, we really do need to find a better solution to obtain value for money, other than using consultant architectural practices, who have virtually no resources at their disposal.

      This madness of getting your construction drawings done in Eastern Europe needs to be cut out for good. That was fine for computer visualisation, but is being used in-appropriately to produce contract documents. I think the practice really caught on, when construction as a fraction of the overall project became so small. Why I created this thread about the value of land:

      https://archiseek.com/content/showthread.php?t=7672

      Brian O’ Hanlon

    • #808133
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      This is where the old docklands masterplan really didn’t deliver a fraction of what it should have. You try starting up a new enterprise with an office space like that. That pedal boats aren’t really that amusing then. But this is where the young university graduates in Ireland spend a lot of their time these days.

      While this picture is nice, it also tells me how poorly utilised the docklands is at the moment. This person sitting on the bench cannot come to the docklands to get a job, be inspired or go away with any wonderful reports of her experience there. Because there is sweet bugger all to report about – nothing happens there that is of any interest to anyone, either in Ireland or abroad.

      Brian O’ Hanlon

    • #808134
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Aerial View of CHQ.

    • #808135
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      From this vantage point it looks all very nice. But you try and navigate down there as a pedestrian, amongst all the traffic on Amiens Street, with the LUAS getting in the way and trying to sneak around the large ‘water feature’. It is no fun at all and doesn’t encourage someone to go back either.

      The thing to remember is that startups needs this location. It is the only place in Dublin served with transport to make it accessible from all directions. By definition, the more access to transport a small startup has, the more chance that the rich investor from the US or Japan is going to drop by the office at some stage, on his whistle stop tour through Dublin city.

      B.

    • #808136
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      The water features beside T2 and T3 trail stop signs on the walking map don’t contribute anything. They should be abandoned as a bad idea. A reflection that the Docklands masterplan was designed using scale models where you looked down at the time from above, like an airplane flying over in the sky. It was probably old Charles Haughey and Dermot Desmond who did most of the flying around aerial view decision making too. I think it was Edmund Bacon who made this criticism about the ‘masterplan’ design process in his book Design of Cities.

      I suppose the big thing to watch in Dublin is trends with projects like the old Irish Times site on D’olier Street. The clever thing is that the Irish Times was housed in a new and larger building on Tara Street if I am not mistaken. From an Irish Times point of view, it is off the beaten track. But from a Tara Street point of view, it can welcome its new visitor with open arms. The move allowed for the Fleet Street/D’olier Street site to be opened up for re-development. Now the next stage, of projects such as this, is to make very clever use of the old site on the main thoroughfare. That demands us to develop a new model for how we effectively and creatively manage property.

      We had some discussion on the matter here:

      https://archiseek.com/content/showthread.php?t=6798&page=7

      B.

    • #808137
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      This is where the digital hub should really have happened. Because everything was bolted to the floor as far as Docklands land was concerned, it caused the design work to be done up in the Liberties, at a location where a new knowledge economy could never thrive. The only good thing about the digital hub, is that it gave architects the skills and opportunity to explore the problem and the brief. We should be careful about where we locate things. It is the first stage in a sustainable development build out process.

      http://designcomment.blogspot.com/2009/06/multi-layered-definition-of.html

      B.

    • #808138
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Inner and Outer docks, all rubbish, crap. On the ground it doesn’t work. It would work much better as public open space, with something really happening in the buildings fronting onto that new open public urban landscape.

      We made the same hiccup with Smithfield space. Smithfield is where the fruit and veg market for the whole city should really be. Not shoe horned into some tiny miserable Group 91 square down at Temple Bar.

      There is a public space beside the sea in Helsinki I remember. The docks at the CHQ aught to be infilled (possibly used to as a route for car traffic tunnels) and made into the scale of public space there is in Helsinki water front. Something audacious and that can represent Ireland on a world stage. The financiers from Anglo that sat around the table with Haughey in the early days had not got this vision.

      Poor consultant architects commissioned to do up a kind of masterplan, and hungry for fees in the mid 80s, were not going to rock the boat either.

      B.

    • #808139
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      This seems more like it.

      B.

    • #808140
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      This is how the CHQ feels to walk about. Not really.

      They probably hired the people to stand there for the photograph.

      B.

    • #808141
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Where did all the people go?

      Here is retail space as envisaged by a minimalist, stuck up architect looking to win ‘design’ awards.

      I wonder who designed those chairs? Am I worthy of such creations to hold up my bottom?

      Very, very creepy.

      B.

    • #808142
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      garethace, you’ve got some interesting ideas. Do you have pictures or sketches of this vision you have for the Eastern City Centre?

    • #808143
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      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?)

    • #808144
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @Cathal Dunne wrote:

      garethace, you’ve got some interesting ideas. Do you have pictures or sketches of this vision you have for the Eastern City Centre?

      Cathal,

      You are more than welcome to proceed and draw up whatever sketches you like. The reason I put the ideas out there, was to enable anyone who sees fit, to work up the ideas and benefit whatever way they can. The tutors in Bolton Street had their teeth worn with me I can tell you. The problem when when I was an architectural student, I was far too mouthy and socially gregarious to ever organise my time to do some graphics. That didn’t come against me so much though, in the construction industry. It is strange really, because until the age I left school, I drew something every day. It was never architecture I drew though, I liked to draw people. The prospect of being a struggling artist didn’t look too good in 1992, coming out of the decade that was the 1980s in Ireland. So architecture seemed like a more lucrative career choice.

      I never took to architectural drawing in the same way as I liked to draw people. But I do like to see people and how they interface with architecture, if that makes any sense. Herman Hertzberger is the only architect I ever knew, who wanted lots of people in his images, when he photographed his buildings for his portfolio. Hertzberger is an architect who I would like to study a lot more, if I had a chance. In fact, he was quite a leading expert in ideas of how to build office buildings. I wrote this back in 2005, after Herman had given a lecture in Dublin.

      https://archiseek.com/content/showthread.php?t=3933

      You will notice a photograph if you scroll down there, of the people practicing sword play in the square in Temple Bar. I suppose Temple Bar and Group ’91 were greatly influenced by 1980s post modernism and the history of cities, which accelerated in the medieval period in Europe. So I thought it was nice to capture an image of a medieval kind of exercise of swords play, within a modern medieval type of tight urban space. If an architect was to photograph Temple Bar for their portfolio, I wonder would they wait for a Sunday morning without any people around?

      Brian O’ Hanlon

    • #808145
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @johnglas wrote:

      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

      Edit:

      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.

    • #808146
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Here is a photo of the space in Helsinki on a better day.

    • #808147
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      There is something about the way the space between buildings is treated in other countries that allows the city to be really special. The Customs House Square concept could give that to Dublin.

    • #808148
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      This is really what a shopping area looks like in Finland. Not the kind of rubbish we have in Ireland where everyone simply squashes up and down Grafton Street while trying to avoid chuggers and what not.

    • #808149
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @garethace wrote:

      There is something about the way the space between buildings is treated in other countries that allows the city to be really special. The Customs House Square concept could give that to Dublin.

      The Custom House already has a potentially great space to Beresford Place, it’s just got railinged off and lawned up . . . . like some other great spaces we could mention (again) . . . but won’t.

    • #808150
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @gunter wrote:

      The Custom House already has a potentially great space to Beresford Place, it’s just got railinged off and lawned up . . . . like some other great spaces we could mention (again) . . . but won’t.

      The funny thing is, that keeps on happening to Gandon’s buildings. The same is often argued about the Blue Coat school on Constitution hill, Broadstone aspect. Big stupid wall, railings etc and the use of the space is hardly what one could call optimised. I guess it is a real argument to include broadstone station on some kind of transportation network.

      B.

    • #808151
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      I mean, the place to have pedal boats, if we really want to have pedal boats is down at the martha swarthz Grand canal square or whatever it is called. There is acres of space to pedal around in. That part of the docklands really needs the attraction too.

      I challenge anybody to seriously come up with a reason why we still need pedal boats in George’s Quay. This big hole in the ground, that achieves virtually nothing. It brings me back to the days in Dublin, when we still thought the flussey in the gacuzzi was a positive urban contribution.

      Brian O’ Hanlon

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