Thursday 6 May 2010

Concert promoters claim design would detract from architectural merit of venue's facade

THE OPERATORS of the O2 have appealed to An Bord Pleanála against plans by Harry Crosbie - who built the venue - for a "Dublin Parlour" to animate the bleak site at the rear.

The proposed development, which was approved by Dublin City Council's planners in February, would involve installing stacks of 200 recycled shipping containers to provide market stalls and seating for free concerts on the upper levels.

The scheme by LiD Architecture was the winning entry in a competition held last August by the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland, which attracted 46 entries from Irish and international architects and designers.

At the time, Mr Crosbie said the plan for Point Village Square - which would also feature an 80-metre ferris wheel - was a temporary, low-cost solution "to open the area to the public and share our assets rather than letting them lie idle in the recession".

He forecast that it would bring seven million visitors to the area every year. "This will be a site that will combine the attractions of the world's busiest concert venue of its size, a market to rival Covent Garden and a unique tourist attraction in the big wheel."

But Amphitheatre Ireland Ltd, the Live Nation vehicle that operates the O2, is appealing against the Dublin Parlour on the basis that it would compromise the building, which is a protected structure because it incorporates an old train shed.

"Due to its obtrusive height, scale and design it will detract from the architectural and historical merit of the northern facade of the O2", the appeal states.

The appellants are also concerned that the containers would be too close to the building.

LiD rejects this, saying the proposal "doesn't make contact with the building, it is temporary and therefore reversible and furthermore the Point Depot building has been modified almost beyond recognition in recent years".

LiD's Deirdre McMenamin said: "We believe that there may be an intention to block what is a temporary project to create a unique public amenity from happening by using the appeal process to delay it so that it is no longer feasible to carry it out."

In its response to the appeal, LiD noted that Mr Crosbie attempted to negotiate with his partners "to avoid the damaging delays of the An Bord Pleanála appeal process" and offered amendments to the design, including a reduction in height of the containers.

"These amendments were intended to address the concerns raised in the appeal document. However, the appellant did not accept these amendments and in fact made additional requests, resulting in an unsuccessful outcome to these negotiations."

Mr Crosbie, who is chairman of Amphitheatre Ireland Ltd, said he and Live Nation had operated a "phenomenally successful" partnership for 20 years.

"They're Americans and they've taken a view that it might detract from the venue, and I think they're wrong."

He said he would be going ahead with the opening on May 29th of a market at Point Village Square, next to the Luas terminus.

"We'll have 130 stalls and they're completely booked. It will be a modern version of the Dandelion Market and it's going to be packed."

Irish Times

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