We need tall buildings in Dublin and we need them now!

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    • #705795

      I’m thinking of organising a “tallathon” to raise awareness at how deprived Dublin is of a proper skyline.
      Right. I’ve already spoken to Bono and he said U2 will play. Coldplay and the Sterophonics have also promised their services. Michael Jackson is rumoured to be interested in making an appearence, however Daniel O’ Donnel can’t as he’s on honeymoon and besides, he’s reported to have said that “tall buildings are the work of Satan”.
      For too long Dubliners have remained silent while people build cornflake box after cornflake on our lovely quays. Even the proposed Southbank development has fallen through, as the local seagulls feel if erected, it will spoil the lovely view of the chimneys.

      This travesty must stop now. It’s wrong, it’s not fair and I don’t like it.

    • #722634

      The sad thing is that most of the cities the low rise lobby use as examples as to why Dublin should have zero buildings above five stories all have far more genuinely tall buildings than Dublin even now.

      Don’t forget, Bertie Ahern thinks that the six-storey Citibank building on the quays is already a “skyscraper”and is too high! What an utter muppet – this is what we have to deal with in this backward country. Sometimes I think this country is all one big practical joke being played on me.

    • #722635

      If tall isn’t working, what about deep??? I’d love to see what would happen if someone planned an inverted office block for Dublin (like the underground government building in London).

      On the serious note – tall versus sprawl and traffic. It still seems obvious that if we’re out of room and everything costs a fortune, we should go upwards. And the views would be pretty. We need an eccentric millionaire to take a civil suit against the planning people.


    • #722636

      heres one to think about.
      as a developer i reckon i could build at least a thirty storey building in the city center containing 120 apartments ,give 40 units to the city council for affordable housing, sell the rest (except the penthouse ,thats mine) and make a substantial profit. and thats paying full market price for a brownfield site. this would not have to be the usual developer led design , i reckon that the margins are there to do things properly.
      so, the developer gets his profit, the council get a huge contribution towards affordable housing, the architect gets a trophy commision and dublin grows up (no pun intended).
      i believe the key to going up is to give the city enough back [affordable housing] so that its an offer the council cannot refuse.
      id love to hear your comments.

    • #722637

      I’d love to see you get planning permission first………….hee hee

      I’m all in favour of tall stragically placed significant signature buildings for Dublin, but a 5 storey or less stump seems to be the limit set even in brownfield sites. See Dublin Docks for example.

    • #722638

      There’s no reason why Dublin cannot reach for the skies in the Docklands, or at the western side of the city, but it is essential that a low rise character is maintained in the immediate city centre, there is more than ample space in the Docklands to cater for the city’s housing crisis. As for office space, sure theres acres of empty offices all around the city at the moment.

    • #722639

      I take issues with a number of points raised:
      1) We have not run out of space, we just use our space very badly. There is sufficent scope for mixed-use high desisty development within the canels. Imaging if we built the docks area to the density and quality of Temple Bar. Tall buildings are just a small part of the solution to densifying the city.
      2) The quality of the Dublin skyline is poor due to the amount of rubbish that has been built since the 60s – this includes a number of well known medium height buildings – not due to a dearth of tall buildings.
      3) A quality skyline with tall building is extremely difficult to acheive – witness the London skyline; in our developer led environment even more so.
      4) Tall buildings are usually conceived as that – taller versions of the 5 story stump. A stack of plates in the sky. Most tall buildings do not embrace urban design either in relation to where they met the ground or in terms of the buildings themselves. For the most part tall building are of very unimaginative exterior and interior design and poorly related to the local area
      5) Are these tall buildings to house offices or foreign corporations? I want the land-marks of my home city to be civc rather than commercial in nature.
      6) In the curent climate high-rise housing can only be made to appeal to those with money. The city centre locations in which such building might be palced are very close to working class housing areas – such buildings lean towards polorisation and ghetoistaion.
      7) Where are these buildings to be built? A tall buildings policy would be needed.
      8) The tall buildings arguement often steals the wind of the wider and more important urban design arguement – again witness London. We have a hugh amount to do to build the sustainable compact urban Dublin we all wish to see – lets thinks about tall buildings in 15 years time.
      9) Skyscraper design – see Ken Yeung ‘Reinventing the Skyscraper’ poorly written but full of ideas – is changing for the better. Lets not build to standards 15 years antiquated. The Irish building and (dare I say it) architectural industies are just not up the job at the moment. Certainly the public sector does not have to exp to commission tall building of the desired quality. Happy for the forum to correct me on this.
      10) Finally – I am doing a MSc in Urban Design at the Bartlett around the ideas of hyper-density and the city of towers so I would be happy engage in dialogue with anyone who is interested in the area.

      regards, Shane Clarke

    • #722640

      I’ll try some responses, but they’re off the top of my head so quite open to discussion (ie, I might change my mind iof presented with reasonable points).

      1 – Yes- tall buildings would only be “part” of the solution. But at the moment they are not part of the solution at all.

      2 – Yes – a Georgian chimneyed skyline looks nice, but they’re more or less gone. Right now there’s just a big mixture of stuff, which often looks messy (although you can’t see the mess until you’re actually up high). So you’re right on this one….sort of.

      3 – Yup – it’s tricky to do. But right now we have a low quality medium height skyline and terrible housing shortages. How about we just say “screw it” and actually have homes people can afford.

      4 – I meant well designed tall buildings. Not ugly ones. This same logic of “they usually look bad” could be applied to any apartment construction in the city at the moment. So I don’t really accept this point.

      5 – That’s a social question which I feel doesn’t really come into it. I’m an atheist, and right now most of the tall structures represent a false religion as far as I’m concerned. Get my point???

      6 – Polarisation already exists, you’re simply saying we should keep these people as far away from each other as possible. Let them work it out or hide behind their car park gates (which they’re already doing all over the city).

      7 – Yes. A policy would be need, but we’re adults, so we should be able to work this one out using our brains.

      8 – was that point for tall buildings or against them. Yes – we must think of the future, and right now the future involves the city expanding outwards, huge traffic, unaffordable houses.

      9 – That’s a technical point. I’ve no idea.

      10 – What’s an MSc????

    • #722641

      I would argue that its not the height of buildings but the quality. I think Dublin is unique with its low rise skyline and I would be wary of changing that drastically just for the sake of change. At the end of the day it should our efforts should be concentrated on making what we see at streetlevel better.

      By the way Shane – where is Barlett?

    • #722642

      What’s gone wrong/is going wrong in the docklands is not the height issue but the relationship of the buildings to the street. Most of the buildings there take up a full block. As a result there’s only one doorway opening to the street per block. And that’s on the main roads. If you go down the side streets it’s even worse. you can walk the length of the block and the whole side of the building is closed off and apart from the street.
      Is there a need for every block to have only one entrance? Can the ground floors not be given over to small businesses with their own entrance and floors above use the “main” entrance.
      Temple bar is exciting because you pass so many interesting things within a short walk. Walking down to the Point the most interesting thing is how many block sized buildings have their lobby full of barcelona chairs. Were grants to the developers really paid out in reproduction furniture?

    • #722643

      See Bono and the boys are proposing to build a state of the art recording studio down the docks in the guise of a landmark tower construction. Here’s to the best Rock n’ Roll band in the world today…..U2!

    • #722644

      FJP – Thanks for your detailed reply and congratulations on your web-site (link on profile). Going back to the original points:

      3) Quality Sky-Line: As I said very difficult to achieve. Where are the models of cities with an historic core which have successfully accommodated buildings of 30 floors or so? Isolated building of this height can be remarkably successful in the right locations (beside the sea, docks, lakes, parks) but in clusters they are much more problematic. Just finished a book on Berthold Lubetkin, the Russian modernist ̩migr̩ architect, who designed some of the best medium height buildings in London Рhis work might serve as a model.

      4) Quality Buildings: I think that a city considering the merits of tall buildings must be aware that the design of these building is often substandard under a range of headings. Given their height and prominence their faults are exacerbated. This is a cautionary note really but an extremely good case would have to be made in each case for such buildings.

      5) Civic Cities: Well I’m an atheist too but I’d rather that the ‘Custom House’ or ‘Trinity College’ are symbols and identifiers of my city rather than say Foster’s ‘Erotic Gherkin’ in London (consciously choosing a building of the highest design quality).

      6) Polarisation: Keeping people as far a part from each other is the exact opposite of what I suggesting. Lets be realistic: tall building will only appeal as housing to the wealthy or upperwardly mobile. Given that a majority of the locations in which tall building might be built in Dublin are in and around the docks I’m concerned that this policy would exacerbate polarisation and entrench difference. Again these are communities that need economic and social rebooting and anti-community (due to poor design etc) tall buildings pull in the other direction.

      8) Compact Dublin. Again I would press for a model taking inspiration from the principals used to reinvigorate the Temple Bar rather than clutch at the recent fashionable reappearance of tall buildings. And to echo EW the ground-scrapers of the docklands are probably even worse that a rash of poor quality tall buildings. Hope most of it is either knocked down or radically adapted. The docklands are the cities greatest urban asset and we seem to be wasting an amazing opportunity to transform this city for the better.

      9) Skyscraper Design: Again I don’t think we’re up to the job and that’s partly due to the fact that the tall building (a stack of identical floors) is inherently anti-urban under many important headings. Having something of an argument with myself over this one and I except the contradictions in the position.

      10) The Bartlett is the architectural school of University College, London where I am studying for a masters (MSc) in urban design. This topic has great interest to me as my final report and design piece looks at the city of towers in a hyper-dense context (2500 pph – people per hectare).

      Shane Clarke

    • #722645


      tall buildings are part of the solution-emphasis on part
      I personally would not put forward Temple Bar as a model-only as a place to avoid at the weekends & experiance the after effect of our “pub Culture”

      4)bit of a sweeping statement & therefore difficult to answer. buildings should be judged on their own merits

      5) I think you will find that that is also Dublin City Council’s view. (Development plan Appendix 18 & later Strategy for high buildings)

      6) “such buildings lean towards polorisation and ghetoistaion” a bit generalised. How?

      7) “Where are these buildings to be built? A tall buildings policy would be needed.”

      As a starting point-how about the Dublin Corporation (as it was) commissioned report
      DEWG report “a strategy for high buildings”

      8) why? how will the circumstances be better in 15years
      seems like an argument for no change

      9) Yet another sweeping statement & might I say a disservice to those in the industry- I don’t think that argument stands as a reason not to proceed


    • #722646

      Hello 3KIC –

      1) Temple Bar: Refering to the built environment of the Temple Bar rather than its unfortunate conalisation by superpubs. The area is lively, full of interesting architecture, largely sensitive to the its history; well managed; civic minded and scaled (free films – markets – programmed events etc). If the HARP area, the docks, Thomas Street and the Liberties were to develop to this quality then much of the pressure on Temple Bar would be reduced. What do you propose as a model for developing the docks – where these tall building would be built? The developer lead, medium-high rise, American style docks developments in London? What were seeing in Diblin does not seem to have learned from London’s mistakes. Mono-functional, isolationist boxes that have no relationship with the street are the death of the vibrant, fine-grained, mixed-use, high quality urban areas we should be creating.

      4) Quality: My argument here is that the quality design of tall buildings is much harder to achieve. Given the disproportionate negative effect that poor tall building have on a city we should proceed very carefully. Look at the cities of Englad or Europe and consider the generally appaling quality of the majority of tall buildings. Of course if somebody comes up with something exceptional and in the right location then go fo it but only then.

      6) Polarisation: Only wealthy people at this time can be persuaded to live in tall buildings. Flat design in Dublin (esp in poorer neighbourhoods) generally turns its back on the city and has no relationship the street. We end up with wealthly ghettos that barricade themselves from the communities of which they should be a part. This is a cautionary note rather then a damning agrument.

      8) Compact Dublin: Its my firm belief that we would be in a far better shape in 15 years time if we developed accoring to the compact, mixed-use, sustainable urban models. This is a call to action! Tall building are but 10% of this solution. Of course its better that the docks are being developed rathar than remain vacant and derelict but most of what has gone up makes me cringe. We’re turning the docks into a out of town business park.

      9) Industry: Well look around you at the general quality of new (last 10 years) developments in Dublin. They don’t enspire confidence. We’re slowly getting better but that is due to acknowledgement of the urban principals above where buildings are considered in the context of neighbourshoods rather than stand alone monuments to the ignorance of the development and building trades. Again – a cautionary note.

      Shane Clarke

    • #722647

      I’m too knackered to really type, but I’ll just make a fast point. Lots of arguments against tall building, but I could come up with just as many arguments against small buildings. In fact, I’m living in one of them. This fear of the unknown/fear of screwing it up has left us in a city which is (quite frankly) fairly screwed up. It doesn’t work well as a city, becasue people can’t move, and can’t afford houses. So we don’t go tall, and end up screwed (which we are).

      Social problems in tall buildings – social problems have developed in tall buildings, medium buildings and small regular houses. Maybe this is a social thing, and not a building thing.

      Students: build tall student flats. Students don’t care about gardening and have no money. I’m sure they’d just rather have money left over from the rent.

      Anyway, I’m sicking of seeing more excuses not to do something when the same excuses (or better) could have been used against the flat mess we live in now. that said, you do raise good points, and they would be best applied to the development of a taller city rather than the barring of one.

      Hell, not even really tall, but a few more Liberty Halls here and there wouldn’t kill. It beats a two storey house.


    • #722648

      I agree. I think these “5 floor” buildings are a disgrace. I hate the thoughts that in 10 years time our city will be full of these boxes. It could easily happen! It is time for change people. People should stand up and object to these boxes that are being built. Afterall guys the moaners complain about skyscrapers! So why not complain about these boxes. I am so ashamed of my city and have lost all hope. I have wished for a high rise city since I was a child, yet the city still looks like it just had a haircut. I have to say lots of people out there want a high rise city. Thank God I am not alone…

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