"Iconic" building proposal by VHI, Abbey Street

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    • #709894
      Devin
      Participant

      In the firm belief that the time to discuss planned development here on Archiseek is when it’s LIVE rather than when it got final approval 2 months ago, here is a current proposal for an “iconic” new office building for VHI on Abbey Street Lower.

      The proposal is all flashy graphics and foster references ….. but it’s going to be controversial because they want to not only glaze BESIDE a stone protected structure as we saw recently at the Sean McDermott St church, but actually COVER OVER part of one; the Parish Hall of the little group of buildings forming the Scots Presbyterian Church, Abbey Street. It’ll be a hell of a precedent if it gets through …

      Search%20Criteria%20>%20Ref. 1546/08

    • #798359
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      I like.

      Looks like a mini version of OMAs Seattle library.

      Its certainly way better than the Clarence proposal.

    • #798360
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      So part of the church is inside it: they own the parish hall but not the church? Seems a pity not to go the whole way and put the church inside too. Best of all would be to have a double layer of glass with water and fish in between so it looked the church was inside an aquarium or better yet, put pretend snow inside and make it into a huge snow globe.

    • #798361
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Not sure if I would categorise it as “iconic” but for Dublin its not bad.Actually think its looks quite wel beside the church,seem to compliment one another,nice contrast of past & present.

    • #798362
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Kind of reminds me of the glass-encased remains of the hotel esplanade in Potzdammer platz in Berlin, part of the Sony centre.

      I like it.

    • #798363
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      I wonder how it looks fron the other end of the street.

    • #798364
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      notjim: 10/10 – got it in 1!

    • #798365
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      i saw the model for this in DCC. Its not quite as convincing as the 3d renders are but overall its a good project.

    • #798366
      Anonymous
      Inactive
    • #798367
      Paul Clerkin
      Keymaster
    • #798368
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      That’s a nice fly-through video-good quality. Does anyone know who actually created it? MDO or a rendering company? Interesting project-I’ll be watching to see how it does in the planning process as it looks like its been in the works since 2004.

    • #798369
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Thats nuts!! A building almost growing around a parish hall, doesnt look like they’ll create much office space

    • #798370
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      More than 2,000 square metres

    • #798371
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      And only one church hall sacrificed.

    • #798372
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Isn’t that currently under their ownership already? Or is it actually used as a church hall?

    • #798373
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      I believe it is in the ownership of the VHI- I was referring to the type, not the use.

    • #798374
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Its a smack clinic at the moment I think. Or was.

    • #798375
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      I believe the smack clinic is/was across the street.
      It does look really cool trendy chic and all that, in the video, but it still doesnt look like what they will gain would really offset what they lose, now if it was taller, with some nice setbacks……..cough:D
      I would of thought hammering out a deal for a couple of floors with the new bigger? liberty hall would of made more sense financially.

    • #798376
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @StephenC wrote:

      Its a smack clinic at the moment I think. Or was.

      Which would presumably explain the desire to airbrush it from the street.

      I work in the area and, though I can’t confirm the use, I’m almost sure there’s activity there most days.

      Is there anyone in DCC with an underatanding of basic conservation principles? Or rather, anyone whose voice is not ignored? The Clarence business tells me that though the knowledge might be there, it can be ignored at will with little come back.

      As Devin said in the OP, “It’ll be a hell of a precedent if it gets through …”

    • #798377
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @ctesiphon wrote:

      Which would presumably explain the desire to airbrush it from the street.

      I work in the area and, though I can’t confirm the use, I’m almost sure there’s activity there most days.

      Is there anyone in DCC with an underatanding of basic conservation principles? Or rather, anyone whose voice is not ignored? The Clarence business tells me that though the knowledge might be there, it can be ignored at will with little come back.

      As Devin said in the OP, “It’ll be a hell of a precedent if it gets through …”

      for the record the methadone clinic is in Marlborough Place around the corner -that is open in the morning/late evening, the junkies go over to the sally army building by the entrance to the Irish life mall car park for some kind of facility/drop in type thingy at 2PM-can get busy around there at that time

    • #798378
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Guys: ‘smack clinic’, ‘junkies’? maybe we’re all too PC these days, but there are some conventions for describing fellow human beings. It’s a pity not everyone can be a nice middle-class professional (but then they’re all coke-heads, aren’t they?).

    • #798379
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      mm – like the idea for this an interesting reuse and protection of a building. The fly through looks good although I did let it run on and it stated playing upside down which made me feel quite ill

    • #798380
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @Rory W wrote:

      an interesting […] protection of a building.

      Makes one wonder how the church itself will survive without a glass box to protect it! 😉

      Having watched the video, I’m now even more sure that this is a cruddy proposal- taking slices out of the roof, hanging stair treads from historic stonework, etc. I presume MDO have read the DEHLG Guidelines on Protected Structures. Haven’t they?

      Here’s an idea, VHI- knock down that monstrosity you call a head office and build something else on that site instead. And leave the damn church alone (but give it a use, obviously).

    • #798381
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Fully agreed – I was bordering on cynicism too until I saw the fly-through and all was revealed. It’s a thoroughly half-baked gimmicky proposal. The glitzy glazing and funky forms are a mere distraction device in the concealment of the reality of this proposal: namely to squeeze three floors of offices out of the airspace over an existng building. It doesn’t wash.

      Whereas I don’t blanket apply the “it’s a protected structure – it’s guidelines or nothing” ideology across the board – every case is different (and the Millenium Wing mews an example of how adaptive proposals can work) – but this proposal effectively seeks to demolish a building, removing it from the streetscape and setting it was designed to complement. This is the worst case senario for any well designed building, let alone an historic protected one – and that’s even disregarding the internal mauling of the roof form.

      But if anything it’s the new building itself that is of most concern in terms of impact on the streetscape – I don’t think it works in the slightest. The vertical form, the flush slotting into the streetline, the pushy arrogance of its sheer glazing sweeping down to the ground (in a distinctly uninspired tribute to the Gherkin) – it all clashes head-on with neighbouring forms. Of course we could do with some arrogance once in a while, and the contrast with the main body of the church is particularly striking – but this is arrogance at its most cumbersome.

    • #798382
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @johnglas wrote:

      Guys: ‘smack clinic’, ‘junkies’? maybe we’re all too PC these days, but there are some conventions for describing fellow human beings. It’s a pity not everyone can be a nice middle-class professional (but then they’re all coke-heads, aren’t they?).

      Noted Mr Johnglas. I don’t think they are offensive terms personally and have lived all my life in the prescence of neighbours and acquaintances with addiction problems- but I should temper my manners and have pulled people up on the same previously. I am not speaking from the distance of some middle class enclave on the subject though and resent you’re accusation of being some kind of smoked salmon and pink champagne guzzling commentator (well, not yet;))

    • #798383
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Does nobody else just find it to be plain ugly?
      I think it looks a little like somebody just got a pair of scissors to some of the images of the office development behind the theatre at Grand Canal Dock, made some cuttings at skewed angles and pasted them onto a contextual photo of Abbey St…

    • #798384
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      I think I’d agree with “plain ugly”… Especially in the places where the regular triangular order breaks down and the lines are just stretched and distorted to whatever extent is needed to facilitate the overall shape of the block… Very unsettling….

    • #798385
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      To be fair, it’s not BAD, and it would probably be among the better looking buildings on this stretch of the street. I mean, would you like to take a peek, even through your mind, of what the competition is? The Abbey Box, The questionable aesthetics of the Irish Life Centre and the middling architecture of the VHI proper..

    • #798386
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      I think it’s an amazing building both inside and out! It’s modern, daring, and stil very very sympathetic towards the original parish hall…… I agree with the above post and say why didn’t they go the whole way and put the church inside too. I think it’s amazing and I can’t wait to see it when it’s finished 😀

    • #798387
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      But why would you obscure a fine building by putting it behind a glass screen?

      I can understand the covering the parish hall – the VHI needed the office space and the only way to get that would be to either cantevelier out over the hall, and leave a large chunk of building looming over the hall, or build down to the ground around it. I’ld rather the parish hall weren’t obscured by the new building but I sympathise with the architects since they had such a difficult site to deal with.

      The building is clumsy in parts though, especially at the top level, where the line of the facade glazing bars are disrupted unnessacarily

      I should look more like this:

      [ATTACH]7185[/ATTACH]
      Prada Epicentre – Tokyo – Herzog and de Meuron

      A building from which I think the architects took a lot of inspiration

    • #798388
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @ctesiphon wrote:

      Here’s an idea, VHI- knock down that monstrosity you call a head office and build something else on that site instead.

      It would be inclined to agree with ctesiphon on this, and maybe go a bit further. Is there anything on this entire block that’s worth a damn? How does a miserable suburban church like this get ‘Protected’ status when really important structures, that desperately need protecting, are ignored?

      I think the proposed ‘iconic’ office block, and particularly the incapsulation of the hall into the new structure elevates these structures to a status that they don’t particularly deserve.

      Normally I’m in favour of retaining and integrating existing stock into redevelopment. Usually it’s important to try to do this to retain the urban layers, but sometimes it might be better, and a bit braver, to wipe that particular corner of the slate clean and start again, particularly if the alternative could be a full blown headquarters building, with presumably, a bit of civic scale.

      This scheme looks too bitty to me, and too compromised in it’s intentions, and the quality of the retained bits too mediocre, for it to stand the test of time. If this scheme were to get built, I think a future generation would look back and conclude that there was an awful lot of muddled thinking going on in planning and architectural circles at this time.

    • #798389
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      gunter: never mind the architecture, what about the heritage? You can’t go knocking buildings considered to be mediocre – would the new development be any less mediocre? If you want Dublin to look like Harare, go ahead. Perhaps VHI have outlived their present HQ and should just move somewhere else. Old churches make very good galleries, cafes, restaurants, etc. It’s not great architecture, but it was the Scots (presbyterian) church and is therefore part of the city’s history. Wipe that out and you’ve just got yet another bland office block. The modernista ‘clear it all away and start with a clean slate’ needs to be resisted – I’m surprised at you.

    • #798390
      admin
      Keymaster

      @Gunter wrote:

      If this scheme were to get built, I think a future generation would look back and conclude that there was an awful lot of muddled thinking going on in planning and architectural circles at this time.

      I think future generations may well reach that conclusion either way :rolleyes:

      Slan Bertie.

    • #798391
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @johnglas wrote:

      gunter: never mind the architecture, what about the heritage? You can’t go knocking buildings considered to be mediocre – would the new development be any less mediocre? If you want Dublin to look like Harare, go ahead. Perhaps VHI have outlived their present HQ and should just move somewhere else.

      I thought the architecture was the heritage. It’s just not great architecture, so it’s not great heritage.

    • #798392
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Cheers for posting that pic of the model. I was thinking if anyone happened to be down in the civic offices or any other planning dept across the country for that matter it’d be great to get photos of all these models up on this site, hopefully in relevant threads.

      Course I should just put my money where my mouth is!! Next time I’m down there… honest! :p

    • #798393
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @Peter FitzPatrick wrote:

      Slan Bertie.

      Who?

      Anyway, while I’m flattered by your comments, gunter, I think I’m going to disagree a bit too- though not with your contention that there is no consistency in how Dublin’s existing building stock is valued, assessed and protected. I do agree that the church hall isn’t a piece of architecture of the first rank, but I still think it deserves better treatment than this. DCC has objectives for the protection of non-PSs, so even if we think this building shouldn’t merit PS designation (you might well be right), I still think it would merit at least the protection afforded to lesser buildings of minor heritage value.

      And Yes, there’s little else in the vicinity that would have much value – either heritage or streetscape – but to me that makes the case for sensitivity in this regard all the more pressing. I walk/cycle this street 4 or more times a day, and I do like the contribution the buildings make to the street- the small setback, the railings, the visual variety, the sense of history. And the message it sends out about the type of works considered appropriate for PSs could take seed in proposals for buildings of less dubious merit which, in the absence of real conservation knowledge in local authorities (or in the absence of planners willing to take conservation officers’ opinions at face value- hello DCC), could rapidly become the acceptable ‘middle way’ when it comes to regeneration.

      At the risk of planting ideas in the heads of the conservation illiterate, it does seem to me that this is the worst possible solution of those available- both the church hall and the new build suffer. Without the church ‘in the way’ a new building would have a better chance of integrating into the street. Or am I being too charitable in thinking that this building would be better if it didn’t have to accommodate the hall? Perhaps, but I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt for now- though, to be better, it would have to look quite unlike what’s currently proposed, not just the samesans hall.

    • #798394
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      the model kinda remnds me of the treatment on Stephen’s Green West by the Eircom wrap-around blob. The Church looks kinda pissed off.

      (btw they’ve removed the Bass tap from the Dáil Bar and replaced it with Tullamore Whiskey)

    • #798395
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      The Church has been dumped for a newer, sleeker model.

    • #798396
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Sorry ctesiphon, I slightly cherry picked that phrase out of your post.

      On the ‘protected structures’ issue, I had it in my head that the DCC ‘Protected status’ person had probably strolled down the street with a blank clipboard and ticked off ‘Granite church behind railings’ more out of habit than any deeper assessment of it’s worth. I don’t put this church in the same category as the little gem on Stephen’s Green, it just looks like a stock design to me with little acknowledgement of it’s urban setting, and I’m not sure that I see any of the streetscape qualities in it that you see.

      I’m starting from a position that I don’t have a lot of faith in the schedule of protected structures. I can see a lot of structures that ought to be on the schedule, but aren’t, and I’m quite prepared to believe that there are more than a few structures on the schedule that may not merit inclusion.

      Obviously this church has some merit, but I don’t think it has much streetscape merit, and I don’t think it’s important enough to dictate the form of development around it, which is what’s happening now.

      My suggestion isn’t going to please everyone, but here goes:

      Reduce the structure down to it’s best bits, presumably a church with two side aisles like this has a decent stone arcade on both sides of the nave, why not retain these arcades in-situ and incorporate them into the public areas of a strong contemporary corporate headquarters that would have a strong streetscape presence. There could be planning conditions about reconstructing the dismantled hall off-site, as a marriage chapel or whatever. That kind of solution would retain, on-site, a record of the history of the site, retain the best of the original stonework, in-situ, and do both in ways that would not prevent the creation of a fine new structure in place of the hotch potch which is currently proposed.

      I think the gothic arcades would be the perfect backdrop to the lobby of a blood sucking organisation like the VHI.

    • #798397
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      gunter: that is just plain muddled thinking and false logic – architecture is only part of the heritage. Oddly enough, there is the existence of people who inhabit architecture and give it any point at all. Heritage is determined by building+use+memory; to remove almost any building with some claim to heritage, however ‘bad’, for yet another office block is just vandalism. The VHI should move.

    • #798398
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      What should be in the city centre?

      Corporate headquarters, yes
      Suburban church, no

    • #798399
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Yes, gunter, but it is there.

    • #798400
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      You tend to lose track of these applications when they go for AI, but it appears that this one got a fulsome thumbs-up from the Planning Dept. in the last couple of days.

      I haven’t got the energy to do a full autopsy on the planner’s report, but here’s a selection of key words that perhaps give a flavour of the planning assessment:

      Dramatic
      Innovative
      Sophisticated
      Elegant
      Radical
      Ambitious
      Imaginative
      Serious
      Meaningful
      Sculptural

      What a pity that all this supposed creative energy was directed at joining up two miserable existing buildings that, in any other era, would have cleared off the site without a second thought. (yes I know that’s just a personal view)

      If Dublin City Council had wanted to protect a Scots Presbyterian Church, the one to protect was the, 300 year old, one in Swift’s Alley off Francis Street (from the ‘How well do you Know Dublin’ thread), reportedly the first Presbyterian church in Dublin, not a suburban piece of Victoriana that had been inapproptriately inserted into the urban streetscape of Abbey Street in the first place, probably at the expense of a couple of decent houses.

      One phrase though from the Planner’s Report, just has to be posted:

      ‘The Planning Department does not however concur with the implicit pejorative design appraisal of the City Conservation Officer that ”In urban design terms – the distorted design concept of the proposed building is neither harmonious nor complementary to it’s context . . ”

      In fairness to the Planner’s Report, it goes on to assert a reasonably coherent alternative view that:

      The asseptability of the proposal is actually dependent upon, not weakened by, it’s innovative and dramatic design concept. The glazed pattern and overall form are critical inherent design objectives designed to create a deliberate discordant – but positive – relationship with the existing eclectic group of buildings currently found on lower Abbey Street.’

      Btw, the report also put great stock in the value of retaining the presence of the VHI in the North inner city and put this forward as a part of the justification for the favourable planning decision. That’s the same argument that was used to justify the Clarence!

      In general, I’m more convinced than ever that we’re in one of those dreadful transitional architectural phases, that you see throughout history, where we have the ambition to design contemporary bits and stick them onto existing buildings, but not the confidence to either leave them alone or replace them with better buildings of our own.

    • #798401
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      A few things come to mind in the light of the Jones Road demolition:

      1. How did the VHI church on Abbey Street get listed in the first place, when the nearly identical (but prettier) church on Jones Road was passed over?

      2. The decent suburban design qualities of the Jones Road church appear to contribute positively to the semi-suburban streetscape here, whereas the equally decent suburban qualities of the Abbey Street church contribute little or nothing to the full blown urban context of Abbey St. (imo).

      3. It should never just be a choice between preserve or demolish, some buildings may not merit total preservation in the context of a proposal for a good quality, urban scale, redevelopment, but perhaps parts of the structure merit retention and not always the obvious parts like the facade.

      4. Very few ordinary decent urban regeneration projects are so ‘pure’ and ‘iconic’ in their contemporary perfection that they wouldn’t benefit from the incorporation into their design of some well crafted stone arcades from a pre-existing structure on the site.

      5. Really getting to grips with the value of heritage in the urban context and the role that a deeper understanding of the potential for heritage to underlay and enrich the urban layer cake will involve moving away from the either/or scenario we have now, where every case comes down to: either the preservation lobby wins, or the developer wins. This will only happen if there’s imaginative leadership from the top.

      In my opinion, the retention of the Abbey St. church, and more particularly the design of a contorted glass office block extension arround it and over it’s neighbouringing hall, is a mistake bourne out of muddled conservation thinking and a lack of confidence in our own architectural ability (probably justified).


      Jones Road church after illegal partial demolition

      If the Abbey Sreet. church nave arcades are anything like the exposed Jones Road church arcades, like I said before, instead of retaining the whole structure and have this decision dictate the shape and form of the redevelopment around it, I would just retain these beautiful and expertly crafted elements, in-situ, in a double height glazed ground floor of a fully urban scale corporate HQ redevelopment.

    • #798402
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      To answer Point 1 – because the record of protected structures is a complete and utter mess and no one has bothered to question it either in terms of whats on it or whats not!

    • #798403
      Paul Clerkin
      Keymaster

      Did this ever get permission or did it just die a death?

    • #798404
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Granted permission way back in 2008 and then died a Celtic Tiger death

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