|Dead in the water|
Dublinlandlady, since becoming an accidental activist, made her first foray into Dublin demi-beau-monde on Friday. What with a gathering at CHQ to exhibit our three pieces from the 2012 Venice Biennale and Sotheby’s Irish art preview, two birds were flown with one kite.
Brevity prevails and I won’t attempt to review, as you’ll find a plethora of words somewhere online. Though, I was particularly struck by Grafton Architects, silver lion winner, with contextualised images of Sceilig Michael and models expressing the development of their design for the University of Lima. I know those 598 steps intimately; I had to descend each one by the seat of my pants.
What DDDA produced for Dublin is testimony to a cosy, unchecked, uncreative, coterie, a cabal of stagnant, sterile thinking, predicated on quick returns and self-promotion, culminating in the mind-blowing bid for the Irish Glass Bottle site. You would think somebody put an actual gun to the syndicate heads to arrive at the figure they spent on a plot of land that could never in any economic pipedream, yield a return in residential, retail and office sales, in a country with a population of 4 million, where the only growth is in Laois, made up of immigrants.
What is even more breathtaking is that DDDA board members have ended up as advisers to NAMA and An Bord Pleanala and one obvious one is awaiting trial on his banks wrong doings.
Ironically, it is the much pilloried Johnny Ronan who persevered with planning objections for his convention centre that has produced the most arresting architecture on the quays; architect Kevin Roche’s tilted can breaks the vertical repetition and plays with monumental form.
My interest is in the former Stack A, now CHQ, well known as a tobacco warehouse and venue for the banquet to honour soldiers returned from the Crimean War, and latterly, well known as a very expensive white elephant and now up for a Jumbo sale.
There’s a chance to do something wonderful there, jettison (and recycle) the expensive but boring mall fit-out so lazily designed to accommodate high street retail in a place where nobody shops; and create a real, living market place for Ireland’s talented and inventive food and craft artisans, a sustainable showcase for international buyers and a living, breathing hub for city dwellers.