York Street

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    • #708166

      I have heard that the entire row of Georgian houses in York street are to be demolished and replaced by another faceless appartment block. I thought by now we would have learned the folly of demolishing Georgian houses to put up crap in there place…the city is littered with examples of this.. I believe that these building where listed…then the doorways where listed… now nothing is listed. Is there any chance of saving these building or is another Georgian terrace doomed

    • #762179
      Andrew Duffy

      They aren’t Georgian, they are 1940s replicas. It is possible that some of the doorcases are original.

    • #762180

      @Andrew Duffy wrote:

      They aren’t Georgian, they are 1940s replicas. It is possible that some of the doorcases are original.

      thanks for that Andrew, not being a dub i didnt realise that.. i was wonder how on earth they could get away demolishing them many thanks

    • #762181

      Here’s one of those creepy Ghost SIgns from fjp..

      Was there ever commercial premises on this street ?

    • #762182

      Not on that stretch back towards Aungier St would have been mixed use

    • #762183

      What was on the c1970 flats’ sites on both sides before they were built? And if tenements, of what kind?
      Is it proposed to demolish these PVC-clad monsters?

      Sorry for the res of these pics below, they’re from about a year ago.

      It seems these simple but beautifully carved granite doorcases with corbels are original; they are in the fashion of the 1750s-60s but could be later given their secondary location:

      By contrast these (nonetheless elegant) doorcases appear to date from the terrace’s reconstruction in the 1940s, and seem to be cast in concrete of all materials, with very light, probably unintentional fluting to the columns due to the way they were cast:

      From a few steps back they look very convincing, the only giveaway being the ill-proportioned bases of the columns 🙂
      I think there’s four of both types of doorcase in the terrace.

      The plinths of the railings appear to be granite rather than concrete, and could concievably be original, though the railings are clearly modern.

      There’s lots of old brickwork surviving in the facade too – hope to get some better pics tomorrow. It’s interesting to see how the architect was mindful of the original brick in using a plum-coloured variety to York St, while to the rear the terrace is clad in the standard of the era – that glossy, orangey 1940s-early 50s brick.

      Does anyone know if these houses were originally built as fashionable townhouses, or were they always apartments of some kind?

    • #762184
      Paul Clerkin

      I think they were built as flats – I haver somewhere a copy of a UK magazine with two or three pages on the architecture scene in Dublin – page has a drawing is of Busaras, while there are photographs of these.

    • #762185

      Yes but from earlier again – i.e. were they originally 18th century townhouses and later converted to tenements and then in c1950 rebuilt as what exists today – or were they built in the 18th century/early 19th as purpose built tenements or apartments then?

      As you noted before, it goes to show what a buzzing place Dublin was in the 50s for these to be included 🙂

    • #762186

      Well here are a few more pics of the terrace. A City Council official who happened to be on the street when I was there very kindly opened up to let me have a look inside (hope I don’t get him into trouble now :))

      The interior as you might expect is very dismal indeed. The one/two houses closest to the Green are quite literally falling part internally; parts of the ceilings have collapsed and there is water pouring through the roof down through the floors below. It seems squatters got in here at some stage too.
      The condition of the interiors improves the further up the street you go.

      The hallways are fitted out 1940s style, with a rounded dado rail embedded in the plaster about halfway up the walls. This is quite literally it decoration-wise – there is nothing to be damaged, broken or stolen from the place, with bare walls, seemingly bare concrete floors and staircases, and basic lighting facilities.

      As you might imagine it was pitch black for the most part inside – here’s a main stairwell:

      The window up on the half landing there lets in very little light – this is because it is in the very heart of the building. It seems the terrace was constructed with narrow light wells running vertically through the building between each ‘house’. You can see one exposed at the very end of the terrace here:

      Presumably in a health-obsessed age these were installed to also provide ventilation for bathrooms and bedrooms in the centre of the building – something of a hangover from the Victorians.

      Here is where the ‘York St Fire’ happened about 4 years ago, caused by a lighted candle. This is presumably when plans got underway for the terrace’s demolition.

      The apartment was scorched out of it, and obviously hasn’t been touched since. Nice 1940s door there with original Bakelite black handle. Lots of these about.

      And the inside of one of the 18th century doorcases:

      It’s interesting to see that the fanlights are still serving the function intended 250 years ago, lighting the hallways. They’re the only source of natural light.

      Another interior detail in all hallways and flats is that shudder-inducing 1940s institutional coving 🙂 – all smothered in obligatory gloss paint:

      Most flats have a picture rail so it seems to have been a standard fitting.

      The fundamental issue that caused the CC to propose demolition according to the man today is fire safety; the Fire Officer was not at all happy with the security of the building, as was proven on the day of the fire. Given the flat was right next to the bottom of a stairs, in order to get out it seems everyone above would have had to pass by that very flaming flat. Coupled with dodgy fire exits that the residents have been giving out about for a long time, it is no wonder the City Council want to see the back of it.

      The building has no central heating – all flats are heated by traditional hearths (which makes fire safety a million times worse again), there is no insulation – heat or sound, and the communal areas are similar to that of a tenement block in Moscow.
      Also as can be seen from outside, all electrics in the various flats are exposed in conduiting running up the walls to a central box that runs the length of each room.
      Even the ceiling pendant wiring is exposed!

      This all perhaps suggests that the entire building is a bomb-proof solid concrete frame just like the Corporation housing then going up in the new suburbs, hence all services had to be surface mounted.

      Back outside again, you can see work has been underway in removing all the sashes to the York St façade:

      How sad. They’re due to be knocked in only three weeks time. I should have objected at the time to the delisting of the doorcases, so really don’t have a leg to stand on in that respect, but it really is a pity to see this unique streetscape disappearing.

    • #762187

      Here’s some detail of the original doorcases. An IT article I’ve just found says the terrace dates to 1750 so that definitely explains these corbelled doors:

      And some elegantly simple granite moulding round the edges:

      And here’s a column and plinth from the seemingly concrete doorcases from the 40s:

      The official said that all of the 8 doorcases will be stored and probably used in another scheme rather than the York St development which is a shame – they ought to stay where they belong (whatever about on their original façade 😡 )

      He was also keen to point out that ‘our architecture people’ have passed the scheme off as not being of architectural merit, and that the scheme dates from the 1940s and is not Georgian. He knew quite a lot about it when he got going – that the railing plinths are reconstituted stone rather than natural stone (that explains the non-concrete appearance anyway :)):

      …and that some of the doorcases were older than others, though did seem reluctant to admit this.

      Here’s the very extensive amount of what can only be Georgian brickwork in the central part of the terrace, with only the top floor rebuilt in plum brick:

      The difference is clear:

      …and is especially evident in this picture where even an original doorcase is sited on the old brick (though you can see it was placed here in the reconstruction given the modern brick around the pediment):

      You can as good as see the original townhouse!

    • #762188

      Likewise here you can see how the architect was very conscious of the Georgian character of the street, choosing to respect the varying parapet heights and plot widths that make up Georgian Dublin rather than build a faceless intimidating block:

      All in all, I think it is a great shame to see a unique Dublin streetscape – which is what it is, not just a building – disappearing, only to be replaced with more flats.
      Even if the terrace contained no 18th century elements, it would still be worthy of note as a very rare example of neo-Georgian in Ireland. The fact that it was included in the architectural publication from the 1950s Paul mentions, however bizarre it may be, I think highlights the significance in which the design chosen was held at the time.

      It not only seems to have been built on the back of the fashion of 10-15 years previous in the UK, but also perhaps the beginning of Dublin opening its eyes and appreciating its Georgian heritage. It was the 1930s when this began to happen on a number of levels, including Constantia Maxwell’s unusually glowing publication about Georgian Dublin, printed and reprinted in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. The fact that the Corporation chose to rebuild the terrace in a Georgian fashion, even ulitising many original elements is nothing short of incredible! Surely it would have been so much easier to sweep it all away and build a modern apartment block of concrete and render with steel windows?

      In the context of the exclusively Georgian St Stephen’s Green around the corner, it seems they deliberately chose the right option. In the 1940s, Dublin Corportation chose to respect Georgian heritage, and not to ‘cleanse’ the area, and yet in 2005 that is exactly what the City Council are doing!

      This is a streetscape that can be read, a terrace that tells a story through its materials and design. To sweep it all away for the sake of efficiency is to wipe away the past, the very history of this area.
      There’s little doubt that the flats at the top end are not going to last much longer either. So instead of having contemporary apartments at the top end and the prototype, the originals that gave the area its famous name in the city, at the bottom, there will be modern development lining the whole street, and not a trace of its past left. That is a crying shame.
      Well would you want to live in them you could ask – I’d gladly live in this refurbished terrace.

      By all accounts gut the interiors, smash them in fact, but the facades could and should have been retained.
      The easy option was taken.

      Goodbye York Street 🙁

    • #762189

      A fine and fitting obituary, Graham. I second all you said. Thanks for getting the pics before it was too late.

    • #762190
      Frank Taylor

      Thanks for taking the trouble to post those photos, Graham.

    • #762191

      Graham – Very well argued. This street has fasinated me since I was a kid. My Dad used to park down there beofre taking me down Grafton Street. Even then I felt the street has a ‘real’ urban Dublin quality about it: a sense of place, history, relatedness to the surrounding area …. What are we to get in its place? Yet another faceless modern building / apartment block with a very poor relation to the street pavement environment. Certainly something needs doing and that something is certainly not Bacholers Walk pastiche. How about a modern interpretation of the town house: http://www.ivarhagendoorn.com/photos/architecture/borneo_sporenburg.html – some imagination please! Shane

    • #762192

      Yes, in light of the wiping away of what very simply is York St, the very least the City Council can do is come up with an imaginative, lasting scheme. I wonder do they propose an in-house job (indeed do the CC even design their developments any more?), or are they tendering it out?

      Forgot this pic from yesterday – it’s very interesting in that it shows the difficulties the Coporation faced in retaining some Georgian elements of the original terrace:

      The new inner frame clearly had to be adapted to align with the Georgian fenestration. If this doesn’t show how intent they were in keeping some of the original fabric of the street, nothing does. Surely it would have been so much easier to sweep it all away, as is happening today.

      Some views of the rear – an even stranger mixture of bricks here!

      The only explantion I can think of for the orangey brick is that the architect decided to reflect the central Georgian part to the front by using an equally different modern brick to the rear, to contrast with the plum coloured parts either side?

      The terrace apparently has the most wonderfully sunny south facing gardens:

      This little leafy corner of the city behind Ardilaun House always looks so well in summer – especially with all the warm brick about the place, including Mercer House.

      And the doorcases again:

    • #762193

      Nice one Graham, I too have always admired this street since I was a kid, coming into town with my Dad, I used to always try and imagine what it was like behind those red-bricked walls, and with the salvation army down the street.

      By the way, anybody remenber the Dandalion market just around the corner from here, pity that they ripped it down and put up that horrible pile of shite in its place.

      York street will be missed, of that there is no doubt.

    • #762194

      Nice photos, nice streetscape, pity about the people. I once was naive enough to think myself lucky to find a parking space so near the Green. Came back after lunch and my car had been cleaned out. Gardai said “Why do you think all those spaces were empty? They watch from the flats, nip out, smash, grab and run back in again. No way would we go in there!”

    • #762195

      Great Photos. That whole area around St Stephens Green West has completely changed over the last 20 odd years or so. In the attempt to “Clean Up” the area I have not seen more boring corporate architecture in Dublin. Give us some well designed Social Urban living space and try to increase the local population.

    • #762196

      Well given a third of the site is going to the RCSI, it’s unlikely the population will increase to any great extent, even with a higher density development…

      The Irish Architectural Archive has the most fascinating collection of photographs of ‘Old’ York Street from the 1960s.
      A lot were taken by the Dublin Corporation Dangerous Buildings Dept, some by Maurice Craig, and the majority not credited but clearly taken for archival purposes. Unfortunately from what I could make out, all of the pictures were of the northern terrace, i.e. the RSCI side rather than the 1940s terrace side.
      It seems all the pictures were taken in anticipation of the northern terrace being demolished c1964, as appreciation of Georgian stock was much greater by then than the 1940s when the southern block was swept away.

      The condition of some of the northern houses is truly shocking, but especially the notion that people were still living in these conditions in the 1960s in the very heart of the capital city. One dismal photo from 1962 showed a half landing with a magnificent timber window surround with fluted columns either side, and in front the most squalid conditions with a pail of water on the floor, a Belfast sink in the corner, what seemed to be some sort of wardrobe-like water closet squeezed onto the landing too, and of course all manner of filth and decay all about, with crumbling walls and plaster and the original arched window removed and a square sash put in its place.
      Another picture shows what seems to be an entrance hall, with the arch that divides the reception hall from the inner hall half-bricked up with concrete blocks.

      Outside the pictures taken by the Corpo were naturally of the worst parts, of barely-holding-together railing plinths and wonky railings, and other more significant structural issues.

      Above all though, you could make out what a fine street it once was, maybe as much as 100 years previously. The houses semed to be in the majority c1750-60 in character – the doorcases in particular would remind you of Parnell Sqaure and other Gardiner schemes of the mid-18th century, with a lot of doorcases like this but maybe smaller and bulkier in scale:

      Most interestingly though is that there were loads of doorcases as good as identical to those on the opposite side of the street today on these northern houses, the ones that seems to be of concrete:

      There were more elaborate versions of the corbelled doors, but definitely not the exact ones – so they seem to have originated on the southern terrace where they are now. What’s particularly sad to see is gothic timber panes in a few of the fanlights, and even in at least one of the half landing windows to the rear 🙁

      Reading some bits and pieces from about the place it seems York St was one of the worst, if not the worst tenement area in Dublin in the 1940s, so it’s no wonder the Corpo wanted rid of the southern terrace at least. In one house there were no less than 24 families living in its rooms – and all sharing a single toilet. No doubt conditions improved somewhat by the 1960s, though judging by the half landing pic you’d think otherwise…
      There were new-fangled television aerials up on the chimneys anyway, so they had telly at least 🙂

      It seems strange that the southern terrace was built to rehouse everyone c1950, yet it was another 12-14 years of utter squalor for the northern terrace before it was pulled down – why the delay?

      Does anyone know of the RCSI bought the terrace from the Corpo and then demolish, or did the Corpo clear it themselves with the intention of rebuilding but never realised their plans?

      Either way it’s become much clearer as to why the Corpor rebuilt the southern block in a Georgian style – simply because the northern Georgian terrace was to remain standing and in use as tenements for many years to come, hence the character of the street was maintained. Indeed in one pic of the northern terrace, you can just see the brand spanking new southern block in the background 🙂

      Hope to go back and try to find some material relating to the all-important southern terrace – it’s due to disappear in a matter of days at this stage 🙁

    • #762197
      Lillian Doyle

      @KerryBog2 wrote:

      Nice photos, nice streetscape, pity about the people. I once was naive enough to think myself lucky to find a parking space so near the Green. Came back after lunch and my car had been cleaned out. Gardai said “Why do you think all those spaces were empty? They watch from the flats, nip out, smash, grab and run back in again. No way would we go in there!”

      As someone who grew up in York Street (I have been out of it longer than I was in it). I would like to let you know there were some very decent people in these flats. In fact it was only in latter years that the criminal group moved in that is when most of the old tennants moved to other accommodation. I would guess you had all your belongings on the back seat of your car and can only say that the same thing would happen in London, Manchester, Madrid, Cork etc or any other major city. You can not tar everyone with the same brush.

    • #762198

      Anyone got any idea what date demolition is due to occur?

    • #762199


      They’re moving in 🙁

      Hardly the Fitzwilliam Street of the 21st century, but a sad event nonetheless.
      Apologies for the woeful quality of these images. Didn’t have much time, but mainly because for whatever strange reason, rather appropriately, it was the darkest the street has ever been, in spite of it being broad daylight. Quite extraordinarily dar, and almost completely washed of colour.

      Many of the interiors have already been gutted:

      …revealing a fascinating tapestry of many people’s lives…

      …and some remarkably bad taste in wallpaper 😮

      As suspected, lightwells do indeed penetrate the heart of the terrace – here you can see one complete with cast iron soil pipe:

      Aerial imagery reveals the same much better – a fascinating hangover from the Victorians in the heath and sanitation obsessed 1930s and 40s:

    • #762200

      What really makes you smile is the fantastic array of 1940s fireplaces on display; some modest bedroom models, and others more elaborate in reception rooms.

      A nice little bedroom one here:

      And the same model with an inverse colour scheme:

      More elaborate decoration here:

      A wonderful glossy-tiled Art Deco inspired surround:

      And what seems to be a magnificent Bell fireplace, who were based in Glasnevin. They still seem to be there today on Botanic Road. What a fine piece – the design and tiles used match precisely the late 1940s date of these buildings.

      Unfortunately it seems none of these fire surrounds are being salvaged, not even the finer ones, as the floors have already been knocked 🙁

      It seems the floors in the original Georgian sections as pictured below have timber joist floors and ceilings while the wholly 1940s-50s sections at either end appear to be of cast concrete panel construction. Not 100 percent sure as I didn’t have time to check properly:

      Back outside and the 1940s doorcases are being numbered 🙁

      As yet there is no numbering on the 18th century doorcases.

      Just looking at an aerial view of the area, it is interesting note how this whole part of the city was earmarked for social housing, built up over the course of thirty years in a range of architectural styles, no doubt replacing many a tenement not least on York Street itself.

      How depressing that Mercer House and York Street, built during the depths of economic stagnation and some of the worst times this country has experienced, still stand as the highest architectural achievement in the midst of everything else that has been built in this area in the intervening sixty years.

      And York Street is the first to be demolished.

    • #762201

      @Graham Hickey wrote:

      And York Street is the first to be demolished.

      Half of these were gone today as I walked past.

    • #762202

      Yes I passed them too – a big hole gouged out of the middle of the terrace 😮

    • #762203
      a boyle

      @Andrew Duffy wrote:

      They aren’t Georgian, they are 1940s replicas. It is possible that some of the doorcases are original.

      If it means bringing new life a run down nook of the city then tear away.

      The doors are nothing special: they are narrow and very plain. And the photos show that the insides had nothing of interest. We can’t keep everything. Stick to saving original things! Too much nostalgia and we would get nowhere!

    • #762204

      Has anyone seen the skeletal remains of the buildings? With the windows and floors removed the newly exposed interior walls are a bizarre patchwork of very strong primary and vibrant colours,…. indicative of their time or?….. anyone for a lime sittingroom.

    • #762205

      Enough to make a grown man cry..

    • #762206

      I would just like to say that the new building to replace the York Street flats is (in my humble opinion) a very fine proposal to re-house the exisitng tenants while providing modern standards – fire safety central heating etc. The exisitng buildings had single aspect flats – the new scheme will provide much brighter and airier accommodation.

      The scheme is by Howley Harrington (not sure which half is now doing the scheme as Howley and Harrington have gone their separate ways) and also includes the retention of the park / garden area at the back and the addition of some sheltered housing on the other side. I hope the architect has managed to hold on to the good ideas in the face of Local Authority bureaucracy and miniscule budgets .

    • #762207

      Thanks hell- I didn’t know it was them. HH have a pretty good track record with this kind of thing afaik.

      I hadn’t heard they’d gone their separate ways. Do you know when and why?

    • #762208

      Good to hear HH are the architects;

      I wonder will the sheletered housing be anything like this:


    • #762209

      @Today’s Irish Times wrote:

      York Street social housing the smartest in town

      Royal College of Surgeons students newly arrived from abroad and looking for digs may be casting admiring glances across the road from the college at the new block of apartments nearing completion on York Street.

      It looks as though it might have been designed for the college as suitable accommodation for would-be docs, but in fact the spanking new block is social housing, designed to replace a block of flats demolished by the council some years ago to a certain amount of hue and cry, because the flats looked like quaint Victorian tenements but had in fact been built in the 1950s. The block, designed by Seán Harrington Architects, will house 66 families, most of whom lived in the old flats. They will move in this autumn. Meanwhile the council is so pleased with the design that it plans to open two show units in the development – to show others how it should be done. Watch this space for opening times.

      Meanwhile college of surgeons students will have to look elsewhere. Mind you, they are firm favourites around the corner in the Adelaide Square apartment complex, carved out of the old Adelaide Hospital, which has more medical tenants per floor than any other scheme in town.

      © 2008 The Irish Times


    • #762210

      That was a very interesting little thread.

      With the loss of York Street, ‘Georgian’ Corporation flats must now be almost extinct in Dublin. I vaguely remember the great, but fearsome, terrace on Summerhill and there were more on Sean MacDermott Street too, I think.

      The last two Corpo Georgians, that I know of, are on Gardiner Place on either side of an archway leading to the back of Temple Street Hospital. At this juncture, it might be useful to note that one of the better attended museums in Glasgow is ‘The Tenement House’, an ordinary terraced building (a couple of street beyond the College of Art), which preserves a record of tenement life in the city, complete with dodgy wallpaper and mind-boggling occupation statistics.

      Just a thought.

    • #762211

      A few pics of the Tenement House (or ‘hoose’ as we say here); NB ‘house’ not ‘flat’. Very typical of the later type of tenement built c. 1900 up until 1914 (i.e. WW I), in red sansdstone (considered superior to yellow). Very compact housing, generally 6 to 8 to a ‘close’ and almost all rented and ‘factored’ (managed by a property agent). My memory is of this is of a ‘room and kitchen’ (a bedroom and a living room), although tenement houses can be much grander. This is really the Continental model of housing.
      Before we get all dewy-eyed, much tenement housing was very much worse than this and has vanished. Good tenements are still popular in the city.

    • #762212

      I’m not sure you’re compating like with like. In Glasgow the so called tenements were built purposefully to accomodate large numbers of people in apartments, A far cry from sub divided georgian mansions like Henrietta street. What is remarkable about the tenements constructed in Glasgow and elsewhere in Scotland is that they were often built to cater for middle-class families who in Ireland and England would live in suburban semis. The tenement house which Johnglas posted is an example of a middle class flat.

      Aparently in Glasgow there’s less than two hundred detached houses – remarkable! But before you get too excited about high density middle class dwelling I thought I’d stick this up!

    • #762213

      asmodeus: just a few points.
      1. Yes, there were (and are) many middle-class tenements, but there are many working-class tenements left. Most were, as you say, purpose-built, although there were some instances historically of large, middle-class houses sub-divided as tenements, as in Dublin (e.g. grand late-Georgian, early-Victorian houses in South Portland St in the Gorbals, alas long gone).
      2. The Tenement Flat (sic) is more accurately intended for the ‘skilled working-class’, and I think it’s a two-room and kitchen flat, so a cut above the basic (but it still has a built-in ‘box bed’ (for the skivvy?) in the 3rd pic).
      3. Your figure of ‘two hundred’ detached houses is spurious; there were and are many historic detached houses in the city. In some relatively small areas there is a range of house types from basic to better-class tenement, to terraces and semi-ds, to detached villas (some of which are very grand indeed). This would reflect economic status (and doesn’t it always!).
      4. The word ‘tenement’ originally referred to a parcel of land ‘held’ by someone (i.e. ‘a holding’), and later this was applied, without any pejorative meaning, to the building on the land (from the Latin ‘tenementum’). Here, in popular parlance, you lived in a ‘close’ or a ‘building’ (never a tenement) and any blocks of flats built after c. 1914 (usually by the Corporation) were never referred to as tenements (although that is technically what they were).
      5. Your third pic actually shows Glasgow Sheriff Court (‘the busiest court in Europe’), equivalent to your District Court, so nobody lives in it (not literally anyway).
      I can get some pics to illustrate this, but I’ve rambled on enough. Any pics of the York St development?

    • #762214

      The figure of detatched houses I gave was related to the ones which still exist as houses – and of course I’m refering to the Glasgow city council area – no Bearsden or Milngavie!

      AFAIK the inset beds were generally for children (skivvies did not live onsite) except for the one in kitchen which being the warmest was reserved for the elderly and infirm. They were illegal from 1890 (health issues). It would be interesting to see if they were common in Dublin, they wre very common in country houses

      I know the gorbals scene I photographed included the courts, but the combination of that and the tower blocks in the background was one of the most arrestingly hideous scenes I’ve seen in Glasgow – and there’s a few!

    • #762215

      Don’t want to hog this with Glesga stuff, but I’m sure there are 200 detached houses in Partick-/Dowanhill and Kelvindale alone (more or less).

    • #762216

      @johnglas wrote:

      Don’t want to hog this with Glesga stuff, but I’m sure there are 200 detached houses in Partick-/Dowanhill and Kelvindale alone (more or less).

      Don’t like to go on and on either, but are you sure you’re from Glasgow?!!! I’ve lived in Clouston St and Muirpark st and know that area really quite well. There are no houses! Even the ones on Kirklee are all flat conversions. Don’t believe me – get on to s1homes and do a search for a detached house in Glasgow – you’ll find yourself in East Renfrewshire. You want to see a detached house in a Scottish city – get the train to Aberdeen!

    • #762217

      Regarding johnglas’s pedigree
      @asmodeus wrote:

      but are you sure you’re from Glasgow?!!!

      I think if you come from, say, Termonfeckin and you’re a bit ashamed of your humble origins and you decide to pick somewhere exotic to say you came from, I don’t think you’d pick Glasgow!

      That wasn’t intended to be an insult to Termonfeckin, it refers to any one horse town.

      Coming back to York Street, I haven’t seen the new scheme in any detail, so we’ll leave that alone, for the moment, but on the demolished neo-Georgians, there’s a couple of things I’d like to say.

      It’s always easy to scoff at pastiche and ‘Georgian’ doorcases in cast concrete must have made easy targets for the ridicule that I’m sure was poured on them when the redevelopment options were being considered, but I can’t help but have regard for the architects and the Corporation housing officials who fashioned places like York Street flats at a time when their counterparts in Britain were churning out post-war council blocks on a conveyor belt.

      Not to go down that route must have taken some bravery and, more importantly, a deliberate decision to repair, rather than replace, a characteristic Dublin streetscape.

      If we factor in the shortage of resources available to the city and the scale of the housing problem, that they attempted, at all, to address urban heritage issues is remarkable.

      But then, they were only ‘mock-Georgians’ so lets knock them down!

    • #762218

      I’d certainly agree that the mock georgians were a brave decision on the part of the corportation. It seems a shame that they were much easier for people to stomach knocking down compared to the drab flats in Ringsend which currently close off the vista in Grand Canal docks.

      Re: Johnglas’ pedigree – were I from Airdrie or somplace like that I’d claim to be an exotic Glaswegian or perhaps he’s a defender of brutalist modernism and has made “the dear green place” his spiritual home!

    • #762219

      asmodeus: don’t tempt me – I’m Glasgow bred if not born and as for my being a defender of ‘brutalist modernism’, just read my rants. Can I just say that you’ve defeated your own arguments on the detached-house front; there are many purposely-built detached houses in the city (though not perhaps as many as you would think) which are now flatted. But they are – and read as – detached houses in the townscape. Cities are all about higher density and smaller plots; detached houses in the city are for the fabulously wealthy, the small townee or the incurable suburbanite.
      gunter: interesting point; a friend of mine fell in love with the York St houses when visiting Dublin, although I thought they were a bit dull (but ‘pastiche’ has never fazed me). But they were very appropriate in scale and character for that location (before they were muscled out by the aggrandizing tendencies of the RCSI). Your usual skills at a ‘before and after’ would be much appreciated.

    • #762220


      Well here is the new Dublin City Council York Street housing scheme designed by Sean Harrington Architects as now reaching completion, comprising 66 apartments surrounding a central courtyard.

      Still a few pointers for the snag list…

      Perhaps a little busy to the western elevation facing towards Upper Mercer Street, the above York Street frontage is more pleasing in its simplicity and dynamic use of materials.

      The use of stack-bonded brickwork encased within a galvanised border is eye-catching and ‘efficient’.

      If perhaps overly so in its shouting from the rooftops ‘SOCIAL HOUSING’. Whereas in the early-mid 20th century public housing was defined almost singularly by being of a modern idiom and apartment format, today the four pre-requisite elements are: a) the use of galvanised steel as a cutting-edge-modern-but-between-ourselves-cheap-and-maintainable material, b) mean fenestration, c) a patronisingly quirky use of bright colour, and d) an appearance of over-design. Essentially four elements one would rarely if ever encounter in the private sector.

      None of which might I remark are negatives – they’re simply observations from the trends I’ve noted. When they are to be criticised is their employment in an inappropriate manner, nothing of which it has to be said is evident in this scheme, save perhaps a somewhat overly engineered western elevation.

      This development is probably the most environmentally sustainable social housing scheme ever built in Dublin, and clearly informs the design through the use of minimal glazing to the narrow north-facing York Street and contrasting expansive frontage facing south. The powder-coated aluminium windows with internal timber facings are extremely well built and insulated (the specification of the glazing is unclear).

      The use of colour to the side lights of the projecting cube windows injects much vigour to the perennially gloomy York Street.

    • #762221

      The glazed cube is a theme carried throughout the scheme.

      The railed frontage to York Street carries through the concept from precedent, and is well detailed.

      The new address plaques being erected on the piers are particularly elegant and subtly back-lit. The ground floor elevation behind the railings however is not as successful: overly harsh and clinical, it has a budget render appearance and poorly detailed window sills that do not do justice to the upper floors. Also picking up on detail, my pet hate of ignorant fenestration is by no means limited to pre-1900 – this is simply ugly stuff up here.

      Depending so heavily on framed glazing and opting for a factory engineered solution inevitably produces such results. The new St. Luke’s Avenue building by Anthiny Reddy Associates is another recent high-profile building so compromised by cumbersome fenestration that has had little or no design input saving the choice of material and its colour. A real shame in this case too.

      The as yet unfinished basement well, most of which is deeper than this and provides ventilation to basement storage and/or car parking. Lovely curved detail.

      The rear courtyard makes elegant and fitting use of brick which draws strong references to the history of the site and generates a suitably welcoming domestic atmosphere. The elevation to Upper Mercer Street features very well designed animating commercial/retail units, as does the main corner frontage.

      The scheme will make use of five gas-powered district heating systems, each serving approximately 13 apartments with a central condensing gas boiler. Domestic hot water will be provided by five solar thermal panels with back up from highly efficient gas boilers at peak load. Because of the volume of gas to be consumed, it can be purchased at commercial rates, further lowering costs, while the efficiency of the scheme as a whole means each unit will consume half that of a typical apartment. A water management system has also been incorporated.

      Overall an average/good scheme – if it has an attractive face it has to be to York Street – and seemingly more informed by environmental credentials than architectural swagger. O’Donnell & Twomey’s new Cork Street social housing is a heart-warming delight by comparison. This leaves me a little cold.

      (Incidentally an excellent series of giant paper maps were recently erected between the bays of the ground floor showing the progression of development on the site from the earliest of times to the present day. It was a great idea, and a shame it came down so quickly. We need more of this type of thing from the public sector)

      Next door the site DCC sold to the Royal College of Surgeons is under extreme excavation. If I recall they applied for a four storey basement, and is surely one of the deepest excavations ever conducted in Dublin. It’s an incredible drop on location.

      Difficult to make out if this is Calp bedrock or in fact a former quarry site.

    • #762222

      It looks terrible. Terrible! Cheap cheap cheap.

    • #762223

      mabye metro north might take a cue…

    • #762224

      It’s not as bad as that, fergair, although I don’t know what you do about the defective cladding on the gable – future problems?
      Are the bottom layers of strata on the last pics the famed Dublin calp (limestone)? It’s fearsome looking stuff.
      PS Great stuff, GrahamH, good forensic pics and a consistent critique of the development; need more of that.

    • #762225

      Its certainly not as bad as that. Thanks a million for the pics/ critique GrahamH.

      Since those pictures were taken the scheme has steadily advanced in its finishing. Its actually great. It reinstates the enclosure of York st, makes a quality residential courtyard, the corner element is sophisticated and elegant, making a lovely transition which is infinitely better than the vast majority of private blocks attempting the same.

      From an urban point of view, it ticks all the boxes, active corner use, mix of typologies and tenure, On street access to stair cores etc.

      The detailing is well thought out and fairly well executed overall, the apartments are spacious, flexible and energy efficient. Its by far the most sustainable and efficient block in the city at the moment.

      Overall I really cant compliment this enough. Of course elements in it are cheap – its social housing – budget is a serious concern but the overall quality of the development shines through. Go down and have a look at it in the flesh and I really think you’ll be pleasantly suprised.

      O this case study makes very interesting reading about the evolution of the scheme.
      (About half way down)

    • #762226

      I think it’s dreadful and have thought so since the “brickwork” was unveiled. The projecting windows look ridiculous, the whole scheme screams of a lack of imagination. To be honest Graham, I expected a damning critique so am a bit surprised by most of your comments. As for the snag on the side elevation, I hope it’s not an intentional feature, much like MOL’s (?) one at Broadstone.

    • #762227

      @jdivision wrote:

      I think it’s dreadful and have thought so since the “brickwork” was unveiled.

      I’ve never been a fan of tiled-on brickwork, but at least here it’s just used as a framed panel and the colour is perfect, if the intention was to reference Dublin brickwork from the early Georgian period, i.e. when York Street was originally developed.

      I also like the composition of the York Street elevation which does a nice job in varying the module width (not dissimilar to original plot widths) and it has a base and, best of all, a top. Even on narrow streets, roof-scapes can be important and this one (York Street frontage) has an elegant roof-scape.

      It all breaks down a bit on the Mercer Street frontage, but eventually an opposing streetscape here may reduce the impact of the clutter on the roof here and the dodgy composition.

    • #762228

      The DCC/Sean Harrington/York Street scheme is up for shaving in the current ‘ARCHITECTURE’ (RIAI journal)! The piece is by a Dr. Jonathan Hale, who hales from Nottingham.

      Normally RIAI feature reviews are so sweet and sugary, reading too many of them would rot your eyes, but low! . . . . along comes a sugar-free review, even incorporating a couple of mild rebukes:

      ”Compositionally the elevations adopt the principle of expressing each apartment as a distinctive unit, which in some areas – particularly on Mercer Street – results in a slightly fragmentary collage of competing forms. The more sober and taught plane of the longer York Street frontage strikes a much happier balance of size and scale . . . ”

      I could be waiting six months for someone to point out that this not a dissimilar view to that expressed by gunter above, so I’m just going to point it out myself 😉

      In the same publication, the RIAI president’s column cuts loose and carries out a high school shooting that leaves ‘Luddites’, the ‘angst ridden’, ‘Jahadists’, ‘Eco Artistos’, ‘suited proles’, ‘contrarians’, ‘neo cons’ and ‘Evrironmental Athesists’ strewn about the place in the ensuing slaughter, . . . outstanding stuff, but we’ll deal with this in the appropriate place.

    • #762229
      Carmel Parakh

      @Lillian Doyle wrote:

      As someone who grew up in York Street (I have been out of it longer than I was in it). I would like to let you know there were some very decent people in these flats. In fact it was only in latter years that the criminal group moved in that is when most of the old tennants moved to other accommodation. I would guess you had all your belongings on the back seat of your car and can only say that the same thing would happen in London, Manchester, Madrid, Cork etc or any other major city. You can not tar everyone with the same brush.

      , Good girl Lillian doyle,

      I was born in York Street Number 23c, and my family name is mc dougall… and I am with you girl , it was very differant when we were little ‘we had so many friend’s that we used to play
      on the street ,we were children and allowed to have a childhood, we skipped , we roller skated we had a friend who taught us how to ride a bike we would get chalk and draw on the road’s the pavement ,played hopscotch, so those of you who choose to judge DONT like the lady said it was a very decent place until the riff raff moved in later,by the way the lounge area was large the Kitchen was small the bedroom’s were e decent size and yes we did have a bathroom with a white bath and white sink ..was very clean and we had Mother’s who kept us spotless and our bed’s had the whitest clean sheet’s on, our mother’s brought us up to the best of their ability , The back yard was a great big area and yes there was green grass also, so to those of you who like to judge please don’t because no one hasw the right to judge other’s.

      Best Regard’s

      Carmel parakh.

    • #762230
      Frank Taylor

      Nice to hear from some residents. It’s wrong to think that everyone in a street with some social problems is a criminal. Very often there is a small element causing trouble and everyone else would love to be rid of them.

      This new apartment scheme doesn’t look great from York Street but it’s really impressive inside. The sunny courtyard works really well with lots of soft planting and reflected light from the windows. High quality materials and no sense of ‘corporation housing’. It just looks very upmarket. Even the lobbies, common areas, stairs are perfectly finished. Can’t fault it.

      By comparison, the blocks on the other side of Mercer Street look like prisons.

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