Open Debate: Has Dublin Changed for the Better?

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    • #710206
      GrahamH
      Participant

      This takes place as part of the Open House event on Thursday 16th of October 2008 at 6.30pm in the Liberty Hall Theatre. Tickets are allocated on a first come first served basis.

      Chaired by John Bowman, speakers include Ali Grehan City Architect, Ciarán Cuffe, Ivana Bacik and Jay Bourke amongst architects and artists.

      http://www.architecturefoundation.ie/openhouse2008/swf/OPENDEBATE_Programme.pdf

      Might as well pop along…

    • #804172
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Can we have a second motion, if time permits:

      ‘Which is of less utility to mankind, the urban planner, or the traffic engineer ?’

    • #804173
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @gunter wrote:

      Can we have a second motion, if time permits:

      ‘Which is of less utility to mankind, the urban planner, or the traffic engineer ?’

      Wha-wha! There are certain planners not-a-million miles away from a certain capital for whom I am doing my utmost not to name*

      Road engineers on the other hand will do what road engineers do… Oh Lord, please forgive them :p

      * hint – see new dublin advertising thread…

    • #804174
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Well, not sure that was worth the bus fare.

      Cuffe impressed in his usual way, although he is living proof that, in the political arena, knowing the answers is no substitute for the ability to climb to the top over the backs of colleagues.

      Don from the low countries made probably the most valuable contributions, having an outsider’s perspective and not being Hank VDK. He also took a side swipe at the Dept. of Finance? building on Merrion Row which was refreshing given that it’s authors were sitting less that 5m away.

      Ivana and Bourke are both intellegent and easy on the eye. The flaky artist on the left contributed in her own way simply by being able to sit there for the full two hours (almost).

      Which brings us to the two lady architects:

      I wasn’t able to grasp the point of anything Hassett said, but it was delivered in a manner as to suggest that it may have been wisdom.

      Centre stage belonged to Dublin’s new City Architect, Ali Grehan, who turns out to be a woman and not a Arab bandit. Gone are the days of gentleman Jim Barrett, this is an alley cat and just to prove it, she turned quite viciously on a member of the audience who pressed her to flesh out her vision for the city beyond the sound-byte ”Excellence in the Ordinary”, or whatever her phrase is. This was after she had earlier fended off the same question from someone else. Disturbingly, Grehan seemed to have nothing else to offer and she went on to miss the point completely about the Clarence. In suggesting that the Board-walk be extended to Heuston, she raises the spectre that ‘ideas’ may be in short supply.

      From the audience, Sean O’Laoire spoke about the water supply and suggested vaguely that there might be some urban implications in this regard without ever making the connection that the Clarence ‘Sky-catcher’ had the potential to be transformed into a ‘Rain-catcher’ and thereby spark a whole new trend for open curvacious cisterns on the city’s roofs.

      Pikey went on about land values again, and told us again that he’s lived through three recessions.

      Out of the blue, Des McMahon sprang to the defence of the ‘Modern Movement’.

      Both Angelas spoke well, with Brady shading it over Rolfe.

      There was much discussion about bikes, including some predictable side swipes at Road Engineers and motorists, unimaginative developers and bad architects, but the group that got off the lightest was probably the Planning Office.

      It seemed to go largely unnoticed that it is the 24 officials of the Planning Dept. that collectively set the tone for the redevelopment of the city.

    • #804175
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Gunter, many thanks for that – had hoped to make it along, but although unable to, I reckon your insightful summary tells me plenty 🙂

    • #804176
      Paul Clerkin
      Keymaster

      @gunter wrote:

      Centre stage belonged to Dublin’s new City Architect, Ali Grehan, who turns out to be a woman and not a Arab bandit. Gone are the days of gentleman Jim Barrett, this is an alley cat and just to prove it, she turned quite viciously on a member of the audience who pressed her to flesh out her vision for the city beyond the sound-byte ”Excellence in the Ordinary”, or whatever her phrase is. This was after she had earlier fended off the same question from someone else. .

      More detail here – what did she say? Hardly sounds like the attitude of encouraging the public to voice opinions on architecture….

    • #804177
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      The event was filmed and will be placed on the Architecture Foundation website as far as I am aware.

    • #804178
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Well I took umbrage with Ali Grehan and found her very disappointing and very pesimistic. In fact the whole evening was very downbeat and lacked any of the joviality of last year (bring back old David Norris). My big bear bug about Ali Grehan is that she is in the position to do something! She couldn’t put forward one big idea of what she would like to achieve in her post. Plant more trees was the only thing I got. To me that just makes her redundant.

      I agree fully that the DCC planners got off lightly…and the rest of the DCC team who continually fail to rise to the mark.

      Very disappointing night. Some of the contributors were just plain dull – Hassett and the “atomized” artist in her “atomised” life. No wonder Jay Bourke fell asleep.

      Snoozefest…..zzzzzzzzzz

    • #804179
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @Paul Clerkin wrote:

      More detail here – what did she say? Hardly sounds like the attitude of encouraging the public to voice opinions on architecture….

      I’d forgotten about the trees.

      She suggested that we should be happy that she is so pessimistic about the quality of the city, rather than taking the attitude that everything’s fine. That’s a valid point so long as she has a plan to change all that, which it didn’t come across to me that she had.

      Personally I’m getting a bit sick of hearing the same old line that, in Dublin, new ‘public works’ are invariably fantastic and everything else is crap. Some of these people wouldn’t last a week in the real world if they had to deal with the penny-pinching builder/developers that the rest of us have to deal with.

      Not all the new ‘public buildings’ impress me, a lot of the new community centres for example may be individually eye-catching buildings, but some appear to have been designed to fill a gap in the architec’ts’ web page, more than a gap in the actual streetscape.

      There was more stuff, but I’m on a bit of a deadline here, I might come back to it later.

    • #804180
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      A good few digs at planning-by-engineer in the city centre by a certain Archiseeker made it worthwhile for me ;). Just about.

      It was obvious from the start that half the panel weren’t particularly clued in and made no real contribution. Those that did didn’t speak enough. gunter summarises matters well, although I was impressed by Grehan. Yes she was pessimistic but I think most people were pleasantly surprised at her frank outlook and certainly I was relative to the blurb we’re so used to hearing from public servants at events like these. I’m very encouraged with her mantra which is precisely what the city needs right now – big ambitions on a small scale/excellence in the ordinary. It is worth nothing that she was pessimistic about the past, not the future, although the absence of any explanation as to how matters will be different under her leadership was not expanded upon in spite of being pressed. I found her approach refreshing to be honest – I think we were all expecting a blurb about how far we’d come and a contrived balancing act between all our progress and a couple of token downers. She gave an honest assessment about what she sees as the legacy of the past ten years – particularly on the issue of the typical infill office and apartment development – and it’s not pretty. This is what needs to change ‘going forward’.

      As tends to be the case at these events, most of the decent contributions came from the audience.

    • #804181
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      I don’t want to get in to a ‘I think that speaker was better than the other one’ discussion, but, like Graham, I found it refreshing that we didn’t hear the usual Dublin City Council ‘vision’ of ‘permeability’, ‘grain’ etc etc. Maybe Ali Grehan is just trying to find her feet instead of feeling she has to make a mark on the city from the outset. I also thought Jesse Jones had something interesting to say, but was cut out about half way through. In fairness to Bowman, I think this might have been for two reasons: 1: The speakers had been asked only to speak for a certain length of time, which she may have run over, 2: He had wanted to bring her in between four architects speaking in a row, and needed to go back to Don Murphy. However, I thought the others were actively brought into the conversation and she was not. With all due respect to the speakers I felt that what last night lacked was a diversity of backgrounds and professions on the panel.

      Maybe the question is unsurmountable? Maybe it would have been better to ask for whom the city was now catering for? These issues arose – cars vs cycling, public vs private space, ‘city as capital” or ‘city for people’ – but, bar the bikes, only really scratched the surface.

      Overall, in fairness, a good idea. Hope next year it will expand on some of the issues raised last night (along with bringing up new ones of course)

    • #804182
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      You make good points here Phil. However, I though Jesse jones was awful mainly because she read a statement! Its a debate for gods sake. And all that flowery language just put people off. My interested friend’s eyes just started to glaze over.

      I agree with you on the diversity of the panel though. A bit too architect heavy.

    • #804183
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      What was Hasset talking about? I just couldn’t grasp it.

    • #804184
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @StephenC wrote:

      You make good points here Phil. However, I though Jesse jones was awful mainly because she read a statement! Its a debate for gods sake. And all that flowery language just put people off. My interested friend’s eyes just started to glaze over.

      A fair point. I suppose I just felt she was discussing issues which were a bit more socially relevant to some of the others. As you say, a bit too scripted though. I would have liked to have seen her talk more during the open discussion to see what she had to say beyond the initial speech.

    • #804185
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Some thoughts following the Open House Public Debate at Liberty Hall yesterday evening.

      My Dad always tells me, of the days, when it was rare and wonderful to see an automobile on the roads in rural Ireland. How, the gadgets have piled up, and made him feel uncomfortable in the modern world. It has all happened so fast within a lifetime. I am going to walk into a store some day and see genetically modified straight bananas and round cumcumbers. I know that, and I feel a little frightened, either justified or unjustified. Within a generation, people will have forgetten what shape fruits and vegetables aught to be. I don’t know what I will do, when that day comes. Will I become a grumpy old man, or will there be some other bonus in my life to offset the trauma of glow in the dark vegetables.

      One thing my Dad always reminds me of, was that TV hardly made any impact at all, when it arrived as a technology. People were not too bothered. But when radio first arrived, it deeply changed the way people looked at the world. The medium wave broadcasting facility in Athlone in Ireland shut down earlier this year, after many years of service. Apparently, noone uses that system anymore – all using FM. I wonder how long before FM itself will see its demise, all replaced by some kind of wireless bit stream. One thing I have noticed watching/listening to You Tube, is that it is a little bit like radio. Sure you can see a video of the people talking, but after a while, you stop looking at them, and just sit and listen to the conversation. That is what I found about Second Life. The fact that people are only present in avatar form, makes no real difference over the course of a half hour long interview.

      I recall Jaron Lanier, stating that telephone technology was introduced in the early 20th century as a medium to broadcast shows on. That was the intended application, that drove early development. That people would connect up with their telephone to a show that was scheduled to happen at some time. Like pay per view television today. Funny, that wasn’t how it turned out. Instead, telephone made its money, by selling short bursts of conversation. It is now a century or so after, and we are still thinking inside the same model – short bursts of conversation. What scares me a little, is what happens when people are ‘always on’. They could be continuously connected to several different conversations, while performing other tasks as well. Either in private or in public. The robbery story quoted below provides a good example of that. What is not intriguing is the crook who had the idea of using Craigs List. But the fact, that several people did duty-fully turn up, expecting to find work.

      People can be controlled and manipulated remotely. But not in the conspiracy theory fashion, that gets all of the press. But in the day to day things, like those folk in the robbery. They were not being manipulated into some alternate belief system. They merely showed up expecting a job. When I watch the Borne series of movies I can see it too. It doesn’t seem to matter what Jason Borne is doing, or where he is, he is always connected back to base somehow. The modern James Bond movie on the other hand, hasn’t managed to represent the new reality of communications technology, as well as the Borne movies have done. James Bond is still a knuckle walker in many aspects of today’s culture.

      Scott McNealy has built the whole strategy of Sun Microsystems around the smart mob concept. He doesn’t even give a physical desk to employees anymore. There are sun terminals in an office building, and you just grab a desk when you need it. Scott talks a lot about the transportation of bits and atoms. That it is more environmentally friendly to transport bits, that find out clever ways, to reduce the cost of transportation of atoms.

      There are individuals who will wear the technology as if it was completely natural. Many peoples’ impulse to do any real thinking, any real figuring out, any leg work whatsoever, is so small – that they will discuss every single problem they face, with 10 people at the same time. While never getting anything done. These are questions society will have to face in the near future. Already, you can see the beginnings of it. I heard an Architect last night describe the priorities of Irish people as a nation. On a national level, our biggest investment has been in road transportation. We have invested in ways to get faster from A to B. Without investing in ways of making A or B, a better place. That annoys me. ‘Smart mob’ communications technology is likely to fit around a society, which is always on the move, but never quite getting to a place, it would like to be.

      Brian O’ Hanlon

      MONROE, Wash. – In a move that could be right out of a Hollywood movie, a brazen crook apparently used a Craigslist ad to hire a dozen unsuspecting decoys to help him make his getaway following a robbery outside a bank on Tuesday. He then made his escape in an inner tube on the Skykomish River.
      The robbery happened about 11 a.m. on an armored truck guard at a Bank of America branch.
      “He was wearing a dust mask, a particle mask. At first I thought it might be a surgical mask. I still didn’t think anything was wrong, just unusual. Then I noticed he had a pump sprayer,” said Mitch Ruth, who had looked out his office window and noticed the man walking into the bank.
      The robber sprayed the guard with pepper spray, grabbed a bag of money the guard was carrying and ran about 100 yards to the creek that runs into the Skykomish River, shedding clothes as he ran.
      But apparently, the robber had planned ahead. In case anyone was hot on his trail, he had at least a dozen unsuspecting decoys waiting nearby, which he recruited on Craigslist.
      “I came across the ad that was for a prevailing wage job for $28.50 an hour,” said Mike, who saw a Craigslist ad last week looking for workers for a road maintenance project in Monroe.
      He said he inquired and was e-mailed back with instructions to meet near the Bank of America in Monroe at 11 a.m. Tuesday. He also was told to wear certain work clothing.

      “Yellow vest, safety goggles, a respirator mask… and, if possible, a blue shirt,” he said.

      Mike showed up along with about a dozen other men dressed like him, but there was no contractor and no road work to be done. He thought they had been stood up until he heard about the bank robbery and the suspect who wore the same attire.
      From there, the crook made his watery escape in a creek that dumps out into the Skykomish River. One witness said the robber swam away, but another said he used an inner tube to get away.
      “We did get an inner tube that was about 200 yards from the place where he entered the water and took that for evidence,” said Debbie Willis, Monroe Police.
      Investigators believe accomplices could have picked the robber up at a nearby boat launch or park.
      The FBI is helping Monroe Police trace the ad and want to talk to anyone who responded.
      “Any piece of information anyone has could be the piece of the puzzle we need to apprehend the suspects,” said Debbie Willis, Monroe Police.
      Some Monroe residents, while not endorsing what the robber did, are somewhat amused.
      “Creative. Not a right way of doing it, but creative,” said Monroe resident Byron Bevard.
      “I grew up in LA and I never heard of anything so crazy in my life,” said resident Sarah Vazquez.
      The suspect is described as a white man in his 20s, between 5-foot-7 and 5-foot-10, wearing a dark blue shirt, jean shorts and a mask.

    • #804186
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @garethace wrote:

      On a national level, our biggest investment has been in road transportation. We have invested in ways to get faster from A to B. Without investing in ways of making A or B, a better place.

      That was a great quote, right enough. I think that was Cuffe again?

      On mature reflection, I suppose it wasn’t a bad evening and there were one or two interesting points made, including what I took to be a pointed reference by Ali to the value of the campshires as an amenity space. I hope that message will get to whoever needs to hear it.

      The whole ‘Open House’ weekend was excellent again, although this pre-booking thing catches out the less well prepared enthusiast.

      I’d be interested to hear any reviews.

      I took in the early Smithfield tour led by Ken McCue, community activist, trade union stalwart and atheiest. It was largely an architecture free tour, but not uninteresting for all that.

      Starting in Capel Street we went down past the Markets area and looked at Ormond Square behind the Ormond Hotel.

      Where do you begin with Ormond Square? Excellent playground, reconditioned two storey terraces of council houses, but total abdication of urban values. There’s a message here for architects to get back down to the coal face and develop urban models that inner city communities like these will buy into.

      Paused on Church Street to look at St. Michan’s and it’s new ‘tin’ neighbour. Predictably, local kids have taken to firing sling shots at the metal cladding, just because it’s there.

      Ken took us in around, and up to the roof terraces of, the ‘Smithfield Village’ scheme by A + D Weicherts, which is no bad scheme. The case could be made that this scheme explored the challenge of urban living more thoroughly than recent schemes of a comparable size appear to have done.

      The tour ended on the vast wasteland that is Smithfield square.

      The primary theme of the tour had been the extent to which this area of Dublin had always been integrated, across faiths and between native and immigrant, but when the question was asked whether the new apartment dwellers in the swankier blocks had become part of the community or not, there was a sad shake of the head, we’re not allowed drop our newsletters in says Ken.

      More work to be done I think.

    • #804187
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Tell me someone went on the Cork Street walkabout (saturday 2pm)?

      Led by Kieran Rose!!

      You can’t put stuff like that in the small print,
      come on, feed-back someone?

    • #804188
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Yes i saw that but missed out. I opted for a tour pf public spaces on Sun and also got an overview on upcoming projects in the DDDA area. Oh and the Mansion House – which was a bit of a treat as I had never been.

    • #804189
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      OPEN HOUSE is coming around again in three weeks, . . . . . do we think we can we get our act together this year?

      There must have been close to a hundred events last year and we got what, three reviews!:mad:

      Buckets of wine at the launch this evening where Gormley was well received and it was worth the luas fare to hear Dr. Sandra announce, in her menacing teutonic tones, ”vee have a very interesting programme zis year”.

      Old favourites are back, Liberty Hall, Busáras and the usual Georgian suspects etc., and there’s some new ones, the new Irishtown Garda station for example, and a sneak preview of the the National Convention Centre, that is if Spoil_Sport hasn’t block booked it.

      There’s to be another Open House debate on the Thursday before Open House weekend (8th Oct. I think) chaired again by John Bowman. I think they said the theme this year is: ”Can architecture save the world”!

      We might all be broke, but at least we’re still arrogant:rolleyes:

    • #804190
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Woohoo – the Cork Street Corridor Walking Tour is BACK!

    • #804191
      admin
      Keymaster

      @gunter wrote:

      And A Sneak Preview Of The The National Convention Centre, That Is If Spoil_sport Hasn’t Block Booked It.

      😀

      actually wouldn’t mind seeing how that drum works out on the inside, its pretty much just a curved glass facade from what i can make out.

    • #804192
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      This is on again this year then, yeah?

    • #804193
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Is that a rhetorical question?

    • #804194
      Anonymous
      Inactive
    • #804195
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      I’d forgotten that was on tonight, you have your uses missarchi . . . . I suppose.

      Can architecture save the world?

      The people who believe this are probably the same people who think that the wind is caused by all the trees shaking their branches about.

      What are the predictions for this?

      Having gone for provocative affrontery with the title, I expect to hear a lot of faux humility from the panel along the lines of: ”maybe not, . . . . . but it can make a difference”.

      I’m guessing that the term ‘sustainability’ will get another workout in a totally unsustainable way, carbon emissions will take another hammering, and then there’s Sean O’Laoire to contribute a sprinkling of French words to lend the evening an appropriate level of gravitas.

      The title is a fudge anyway. If they wanted to be provocative, they should have gone for it and just said ‘architects’ instead of ‘architecture’, and you just know that the inner green in them yearned to use ‘planet’ instead of ‘world’, but I suppose that’s what committees are for.

      If we follow the logic in the question which presumes that ‘architecture’ can take action and we personalize ‘architecture’ accordingly, is ‘architecture’ some kind of philanthropic idealist searching for ways to overcome global challenges, or is ‘architecture’ the bag-man he’s always been, always there ready to feed at his master’s trough. It doesn’t matter if the master is Pharaoh, or Fuhrer or fund manager, ‘architecture’ has always been there at his side ready to bend his design philosophy to the prevailing winds and give concrete form to wild imagining, for six percent of construction cost . . . . . and this is before the ego factor (seemingly inherent in the creative professions) gets loose in a synergy of megalomania.

      Can architecture save Gotham? . . . . . . No, Batman will save Gotham, architecture will design the gothick streetscapes and the tasty neo-Lutyens country seat.

      Incidentally I don’t like the format of a debate where you have to submit your questions six days before the event! What’s wrong with an old-fashioned ambush?

      For the record, I don’t think anyone doubts that architecture can change the world. Anyone living a tower block on a council housing estate anywhere in the world (or a half finished housing estate on the outskirts of Mullingar, in an Irish context) will probably attest to that, the real question is: when is architecture going to change it back?

      fin

      p.s. Weren’t we dealing with this on another thread somewhere?

    • #804196
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @gunter wrote:

      and then there’s Sean O’Laoire to contribute a sprinkling of French words to lend the evening an appropriate level of gravitas.

      Perhaps too Tom de Paor – or is it Pomme de Terre 🙂

    • #804197
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @gunter wrote:

      The title is a fudge anyway. If they wanted to be provocative, they should have gone for it and just said ‘architects’ instead of ‘architecture’

      Thats a good point! Never thought of it before but I think this is half the reason there’s so little appreciation of the value an architect can bring to a project – in many different ways – design, project management, conflict management and the numerous other skills we pick up along the way.

      We seem to attribute everything to this indefinable thing called architecture which probably alienates people consistently and leaves them none the wiser as to who they can approach for real world services. 🙁

    • #804198
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @gunter wrote:

      Can architecture save Gotham? . . . . . . No, Batman will save Gotham, architecture will design the gothick streetscapes and the tasty neo-Lutyens country seat.

      I think this point is worth further investigation.
      Is there a place for some kind of architectural vigilantism in the new climate that we find ourselves in?
      And by that I don’t mean linching Liam Carroll or other people that are seen as the criminals in the current situation.
      I mean taking the law into our own hands in some kind of design or construction method for the perceived benefit of ‘architecture’ and society in general.
      I know that this is exactly what was done during the boom years, the difference being that the intentions were purely selfish and the authorities were complicit (often through inaction) in alot of the crimes committed.

      Can vigilante architecture strike back in some way to undo some of the wrongs perpetrated?
      And any ideas for in what way? Everything that crosses my mind would necessitate the creation of a conspiracy, which usually weakens any attempt at vigilantism.

    • #804199
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @foremanjoe wrote:

      Can vigilante architecture strike back in some way to undo some of the wrongs perpetrated?

      We could storm the debating chamber with burning torches and pictures of Gorey, but they’d probably just interpret that action as enthusiasm for the engagment process, or some such :rolleyes:

      . . . . . . probably better to just lock the doors from the outside and just let them bore each other to death.

      Let me know if this is what you plan, I don’t want to get stuck on the inside.

    • #804200
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      “Has Dublin Changed for the Better?”

      Yes, it most definitely has.

      I will never forget when it was a vast wasteland of dereliction and dirt in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

    • #804201
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      some time the reflection is far more present than the thing being reflected….

    • #804202
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Open House Debate: ‘Can Architecture save the World’

      Don’t know what others thought, but I thought that wasn’t actually a bad debate :).

      The hall was far from packed and it was pretty downbeat fare, which in the circumstances is proper order, with Sean O’Laoire setting the tone early on with his comment about tackling the situation we find ourselves in with a ‘combination of humility and creativity’ and it has to be said, that’s not a bad place to start.

      The second speaker, Evelyn Hanlon, is a real find, she works for Dublin City Council, but it doesn’t seem to have affected her. I’d say she has the hide of an elephant (no offence intended) and you could see that her years spent at the community coal-face in places like St. Michael’s Estate and O’Devaney Gardens had steeled her resolve. Evelyn however wouldn’t last long on Archiseek, she has a very low tolerance of negativity. This woman reminds me of an old-fashioned shopkeeper, you might go in looking for a pair of shoes, but you’re coming out with whatever she wants to sell ye.

      The next speaker, Kaethe Burt-O’Dea, was an American born, organic pedalling, cross-disciplinary, socio-cultural-relationship consultant from Stoneybatter and ordinarily I’d say that’s about as much as you need to know, but in fairness, she had a lot of interesting things to contribute about parks and benches and bikes and about how communities can work when they start to see themselves as a community. She was very animated and she came out with a great line about how we’re all obsessed in this country with ‘private’ space at the expense of ‘public’ space, how we all want our gardens and our kitchen extensions and she wants us to be ”less extensionist and more existentialist”. You don’t get stuff like that in Christmas crackers.

      What can you say about Professor Frank Convey, director of the ‘Urban Institute’ at UCD (listed here as the ‘Earth Systems Institute’?), the man is just a cigar and two blondes away from being a boxing promoter. He seems to have the CV of six different people, but again he delivered good points with lots of punch, on how the different professions see the same problem from different perspectives, on economics and sustainability and, above all, on bicycle use.

      Last up was Shelley McNamara, who has apparently just today received a knighthood to go with her Oscar and two Nobel peace prizes :rolleyes:

      It may have been slightly disturbing to find out that four of the six panellists either live or work in buildings designed by Shelley, but she has assumed the mantel of greatness with dignity and ease and she spoke very well and without the slightest pretention, which was very refreshing particularly in light of Grafton Architects’ recent ascent to world domination. On that point there was a worrying moment at the start of Shelley’s address when she queried which ‘world’ the title of the debate referred to, and we briefly feared that she had set her sights on other galaxies, but no, the reference was to ‘spiritual world’, ‘corporate world’ etc.

      After stumbling badly over the first question which was along the lines of ‘How come there is such a difference between the buildings that people like and the buildings that architects like?’ Sean O’Laoire came back in with a lot of good stuff in response to Patrick Shaffrey introducing NAMA into the mix and various other contributions from the floor. I was certainly left with the feeling that most people in the room share O’Laoire’s view that our present predicament is a glorious opportunity for fresh thinking and perhaps a little bit of atonement for what’s gone before.

      Just to hear the president of the RIAI say it like it is on a lot of matters, from the failures of the modern movement to the demise of Foras Forbartha, was worth the bus fare.

      John Bowman was on the ball as always, the man has turned ‘effortless’ into an art form, and he kept the thing ticking over nicely. Maybe the debate missed the raw savagery of Ali Grehan batting back awkward questions with added venom, but if she’s going to exclude herself from the panel by not owning a house designed by Shelley McNamara, there’s not much we can do about that, is there?

      Overall, downbeat, but worth while, would be my verdict.

    • #804203
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Hard to believe, but three separate things were competing for my attendance last night. The choice was between a lecture on how Salmon as a species can warn us about global warming. How not to waste a crisis and start your own enterprise. Or the Architectural Forum public debate at Liberty Hall.

      In the end, there was no competition for me. I wanted to hear from some people who had started and successfully ran their own company. Be it selling diamonds online, selling the services of a carpenter online or selling software around the world . . . yeah, that was ‘online’ also. Somehow, I felt there was a trend in all the presentations I saw, but I cannot for the live of me figure out what that trend was. Something to do with being on an island and needing access to larger markets.

      My best idea had been to start an ‘architectural show band’ and hand out an architect for free in every town who buys enough of tickets. But that idea may now be superceeded with an even better one. Stove them into a phoneline and pipe them across the world. Grafton – the mega brand?

      I was sorry to miss last nights debate. I would have liked to have taken it in.

      Brian O’ Hanlon

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