Carlisle Pier, Dún Laoghaire

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    • #706321
      MB OMaoileoin

      From today’s Irish Independent:

      Floating ideas for the old pier in Dun Laoghaire

      Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company last week launched an international campaign inviting proposals for how the old Carlisle Pier (where the mailboat used to dock) might be developed It’s an opportunity to do something spectacular on a large site jutting into the harbour . . . perhaps like Sydney Opera House or Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. ED THOMAS explores the possibilities.

      Could Dublin soon have a Sydney Opera House to call its own? Or a complex of seafood restaurants and fast food fish stalls like on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco?

      If Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company gets its way, the answer is an emphatic yes. So convinced is it that the capital deserves an architectural marvel equal in scale and grandeur to any in the world, the organisation has announced a competition for the redevelopment of Dun Laoghaire’s redundant Carlisle Pier.

      Some of architecture’s biggest names both here and abroad are expected to vie for the chance to create what the company says will be “a major cultural attraction of national importance”. This description has been kept deliberately ambiguous to encourage designers to flex their imaginations. The sky is, quite literally, the limit.

      The hope is that the finished project will in time come to be regarded as one of the architectural wonders of the world, ranking alongside the likes of Bilbao’s jaw-dropping Guggenheim museum, the stunning St Louis Arch on the banks of the Mississippi, Seattle’s Space Needle or Sydney Opera House.

      Carlisle Pier was used for decades by the old mailboat and became redundant in 1995 when the new car ferry terminal was opened. It has been disused since then and has become a bit rundown. But the potential of the 2.25 acre site is obvious.

      The Harbour Company is taking a realistic and practical view of the project, accepting that a strong commercial element is likely to be required to support the “major cultural attraction of national importance” which is part of the brief. It accepts that a hotel, bars, shops or other commercial ventures will probably be required to support the cultural arm of the development.

      The marketing campaign is inviting development companies in Ireland and internationally to design, construct, finance and operate the scheme for the pier, and envisages that the entire development will have a value of more than €100m.

      The competition is less than a week old, but Dublin’s architecture community is already agog. Sam Stephenson, designer of the Central Bank and one of the profession’s elder statesmen, believes Dun Laoghaire should plumb for a design of jaw dropping proportions.

      “This is an opportunity to give Dublin a world class building and it should be taken full advantage of. Yes, we should be looking to construct something in the league of Sydney Opera House.”

      Provided the design meets the aesthetic requirements set down, it may have commercial uses, says the harbour company. But reconciling the demands of art and commerce can cause tensions, cautions Stephenson.

      Suggestions that a casino or water sports facilities be included do not impress him. “Remember Sydney Opera House was an uncommercial venture. It had to be funded through a special lottery across Australia,” he explains.

      Five short-listed designs will be exhibited to the public, probably by Christmas. However, popular opinion shouldn’t be the sole barometer, cautions Stephenson.

      “Again, take the example of Sydney Opera House which was widely loathed at first. It took many years before the general populace realised the genius of its design.”

      The winning entry could be revolutionary in function as well as form, argues Duncan Stewart, architect, environmentalist and presenter/producer of RTE television’s About the House.

      “This is a very important location. Not only is it the last thing Irish people see when they leave the country, it is the first thing visitors will see as they arrive by sea. So it should send out a powerful statement about this country as it looks to the future.”

      A nautical theme should be considered, suggests Stewart. “We are an island and the sea has been of enormous significance down the centuries. It might be appropriate to reflect this in the design. Dun Laoghaire harbour is a beautiful location – but a very delicate one. Certain designs will simply not be suitable. Something like Frank Geary’s Guggenheim wouldn’t fit at all. The development must be sympathetic with the surroundings,” he says.

      What goes on beneath the surface should be given the same consideration at the structure’s aesthetic appeal, Stewart contends. A building powered entirely by natural energy might establish Ireland as a hotbed of ecological as well as architectural innovation.

      “Wouldn’t it be encouraging if they built something that used renewable energies and was self sufficient? It would make a statement about the sort of Ireland we want to live in,” he says.

      Ireland’s new generation of architects is equally excited. Paul Brazil of Brazil-Lohan Architects, one of Dublin’s highly regarded new companies, agrees the harbour company must “think big”.

      “It’s a site with a great deal of potential,” he enthuses. “A competition is an ideal way of raising interest among major names in world architecture. It will certainly be interesting to see what they come up with though it’s probably too early to speculate as to what the aim ought to be.”

      Sydney Opera House should be the ideal towards which designers must aspire, argues Dun Laoghaire TD Barry Andrews. “There are no limits on this. It’s about time Ireland had a landmark which compares to the best the world has to offer. The bottom line is that this has to be spectacular. It’s got to take your breath away,” he says.

      This vision is shared by Michael Hanahoe, chief executive of the harbour company. “What we are looking for is a world class development that will provide the nation as well as Dun Laoghaire with a beautiful waterside landmark building,” he says.

      Those close to the development are reluctant to give much away, however. Speculation that the pier could include a concert hall, or a conference centre or even a casino or water sports complex draw a blank from Grainne Sheffron, architectural consultant to the harbour company.

      “We want designers to approach this with a totally open mind and not to feel they need to cater to preconceived notions,” she says.

    • #734222

      I’m sure that some special interest group will form to oppose the destruction of the existing heap of matchwood and the whole project will be stuck in a legal wrangle for years!

    • #734223
      text goes here

      i agree with emf. i really do.

      by the way, i see that they haven’t made a decision yet on the dun laoghaire baths project. the results were meant to be in yesterday. i had a feeling there would be delays though. there always seems to be a delay. why is this? it is so frustrating.


    • #734224

      Weren’t we discussing this months ago in the context of Daniel Leibeskind (spelling) designing a ship-like structure for the site. What happened to that. As I recall, it was apartments, offices and retail with a Museum attached.

    • #734225

      the daniel liebeskind proposal is amazing and it was part of the onsite section of this website. i was wondering what happened to this section and is there a website similar to this one but with more images and models of proposals etc.

    • #734226
      Paul Clerkin

      Libeskind project is still online but will now almost definitely not be built

    • #734227

      “Some of architecture’s biggest names both here and abroad are expected to vie for the chance to create what the company says will be “a major cultural attraction of national importance”. This description has been kept deliberately ambiguous to encourage designers to flex their imaginations. The sky is, quite literally, the limit.”

      The sky’s the limit ? Yeah right. Really. Yes. How can the sky be the limit when a plan for 19 storeys was just shot down. Even a building half that height would be torn to shreds by spoilsports An Taisce

    • #734228

      dang an taisce to heck. libeskinds idea is brave yes but a bit soul-less i reckon.

      they should invite architects from around ireland to present stuff too. who’s in charge of this thing? and how did terry devey get him to do that work?

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