A tall order for Dublin’s docklands

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    • #707743
      Andrew Duffy

      A tall order for Dublin’s docklands
      HIGH-RISE commercial buildings have been generally more successful than residential schemes internationally, according to a design expert. Such projects have, however, a “chequered history”.

      Writing in the latest issue of the Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland journal Architecture Ireland, John McLaughlin, director of architecture of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority, discusses the topic of tall buildings in Dublin.

      In determining its tall buildings strategy, DDDA took account of the recommendations of a report by international design consultancy DEGW entitled Managing Intensification and Change – A strategy for Dublin Building Height. This identified parts of the docklands as areas that had potential for landmark blocks in its planning schemes for the Grand Canal Dock and North Lotts area.

      In all, four tall buildings have been proposed by the authority to complement the general grain of high-density, medium-rise development in the area. Urban design in the Docklands generally uses the European perimeter block urban model, with some special locations identified for tall buildings to mark significant points in the city (see panel).

      “For a city where there is currently only one existing high-rise building that is not scheduled for demolition, and one new high-rise building under construction, this represents a significant departure from precedent,” says Mr McLaughlin.

      “The tall building has a chequered history internationally, so it is advisable to proceed with caution when reintroducing it. To date, there has been no strong domestic model for designers to refer to, and the international precedent is mixed.

      “In every country, high-rise structures have historically been more successful when they have been commissioned for commercial rather than residential uses. This seems to be due to the complexity of use in residential buildings where every unit needs to have separate ventilation and light controls. “The docklands authority was conscious of the specific design challenges for tall buildings when selecting a winner for the U2 tower competition, and the choice of Burdon Craig Dunne Henry’s (BCDH) design was in part due to the proposal for a double skin facade to contain the elements of domesticity within a sleek glass outer skin. The geometry gives the tower design an informal quality appropriate to the new century.”

      Mr McLaughlin maintains that commercial headquarter uses have often proved fruitful for the innovative design of tall buildings and says that the most successful models for both commercial and residential buildings use structural elements to sculpt their facades with a giant order.

      “There is doubt that the market can provide tall commercial buildings speculatively, and there are as yet few companies big enough to occupy one as a headquarters for their sole use. This is one reason why we are seeing applications mainly for residential towers rather than office buildings.” In conclusion, he says that opportunities exist to create “fabulous expressions” of the dynamism and the optimism of the new Ireland.

      “These tall buildings should be expressions of that freedom and of the responsibilities that it lays on us all,” he concludes.

      “For a city where there is currently only one existing high-rise building that is not scheduled for demolition, and one new high-rise building under construction”

      Assuming he’s referring to George’s Quay Plaza and Santry Cross, is this suggesting Liberty Hall would come down? I very much doubt that – a recladding is probably in order, although my ideal would be that it was restored to its original condition, with public access to the top floor.
      Incidentally, there is a tower in Smithfield and two in Tallaght under construction and all are taller than the condemned Ballymun towers and possibly condemned Hawkins House. He also seems to have forgotten about the Millennium Tower.

    • #752347

      The twelve-storey building in Smithfield is not a high rise except in the loosest terms of the word.
      There are non-high rise cities like Paris where the height of a standard building is seven stories.

    • #752348

      …or Glasgow. The height was determined by the extent a fire ladder could reach 150 years ago , not by any undertanding of what a city should be or design intent .

      When the elevator was invented in the 1870’s the Victorians started to build tall………… because they were pioneers and innovators I like to think that had it been invented earlier ( when the city grid was set out ) Glasgow would be more like Chicago.

    • #752349
      Andrew Duffy

      The twelve-storey building in Smithfield is not a high rise except in the loosest terms of the word

      I know – just pointing out the unusual inaccuracies in the article. The article suggests that the recent dramatic increase in height of proposed and approved buildings in the city hasn’t happened, and that the only remotely tall buildings are Liberty Hall and in Ballymun.

    • #752350

      There are two reasons why most of Dublin’s docklands are too low,

      Firstly the first application for a tall building in the Docklands was Spencer Dock, the problem with Spencer Dock wasn’t the height it was the massing of a number of tall structures and the design quality behind the scheme was poor as a result of the speed with which the application was put together in order to qualify for a tax incentive scheme that nearing its deadline.

      Secondly the Section 25 planning scheme which will not permit over 60% of any site to be used for a single land use, that works fine in terms of overall area planning but did this need to be applied to each and every site regardless of how small they were?

      The article makes reference to the fact that there are only a few corporations large enough in Ireland to have a large enough floor space requirement for a high rise building, perhaps if the land use clauses in section 25 weren’t site specific then one of these corporations might have procured a tall commercial building as it is no corporation is going to procure a commercial building on a joint venture basis if they are required to build apartments as well.

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