Sunday 17 June 2007

Innovative new urban space unveiled in Dublin Docklands

Grand Canal Square - an exciting new urban space in Dublin's Docklands - has been officially opened with a colourful open-air theatre performance by a collection of giant stilt walking butterflies entitled 'Natural Invasions of the Urban Fabric'.

The square is located at Grand Canal Dock on the south side of the river Liffey between Sir John Rogerson's Quay and Pearse Street.

Designed by American Landscape Architect, Martha Schwartz and developed by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority, the 10,000 sq metre square is one of the largest paved public spaces in Dublin city.

The €8 million project is among the most innovative landscape design projects ever undertaken in Ireland and is expected to become a key cultural destination.

Grand Canal Square is located at the west end of Grand Canal Dock, with one side facing out on to the water. The recently completed tinted glass office building designed by Duffy Mitchell O�Donoghue - No.1 Grand Canal Square - is on the south side, with the Daniel Libeskind designed Grand Canal Theatre on the east side and the Manual Aires Matues designed 5-star hotel on the north side of the Square.

There will be shops, cafés and restaurants at ground floor level. Already, the first of these have arrived with ely-hq, Fresh and the art gallery - Urban Retreat - already trading successfully. The Square is built over an underground car park at the centre of the Grand Canal Dock development area.

This area has a rich history. The street running along the side of the square is Misery Hill. Back in the 1700s, the place was aptly named, as it was the site of a gallows where pirates and thieves came to a gruesome end. Public executions took place here into the nineteenth century and it is reputed that, on September 17th 1803, two of Robert Emmet's men were hanged on Misery Hill.

Before that in Medieval times, people with leprosy and other skin conditions, who could not afford to stay in the hospice on Lazar's Hill ( now known as Townsend Street), would move on to Misery Hill, as a bell tolled to warn the citizens that the 'unclean' were on their way out of the city.

More recently, Grand Canal Square was part of the former gas-works site.

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