Thursday 15 October 2009

Search for 'small bang' designs for inner city

A COMPETITION to find new architectural designs for the sites of former Georgian houses demolished in Dublin city centre will be held by Dublin City Council on Saturday.

Some 17 groups of architects and architecture students have been asked to design replacement residential buildings based on individual plots of former Georgian houses on Dominick Street which had been demolished over the 1950s and 1960s and replaced with social housing flats. The complex, built in 1970, was one of five due to have been redeveloped through a public private partnership (PPP) between the council and developer Bernard McNamara.

Following the collapse of the PPPs last year, the council decided to go ahead with the redevelopment of social housing on the east side of the street in 2011.

It will release sites on the west side for private development at a later date.

City architect Ali Grehan said the competition resulted from concern about the poor design quality of many “infill” schemes for former Georgian plots in the inner city and loss of appropriate scale when several plots were accumulated for a development.

“Some developments in the historic core over the last 10 years have been out of scale with their plot size, particularly where plots were accumulated for larger development and it has resulted in a loss of rhythm of the streetscape.”

The council was not seeking a pastiche replacement of Georgian Dublin, but it should be possible to insert contemporary buildings that respected the Georgian streetscape, Ms Grehan said.

“We have to keep the door open on every option for the city, but we’ve had the ‘big bang’ large chunk development, so maybe it’s time to look at incremental development – the smaller bang.”

On Saturday morning, each team of architects will be allocated a plot based on the 1909 Ordnance Survey map of the west side of Dominick Street.

They will have until 4pm to make a model of a primarily residential building that could accommodate several apartments or be a single house. It may or may not have commercial space on the ground floor.

The designs that emerge may not necessarily come to fruition, but will be just one option for the future development of Dominick Street or other infill sites of its kind in the city, Ms Grehan said.

The Dublin House competition will take place at Block C in Smithfield Market, the resulting designs will be on view in Smithfield as part of Innovation Dublin week.

Irish Times

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