Inspiring Cities Dublin Week: This month Inspiring Cities features “Dublin Week” where articles on Dublin and her culture will be released.
From the 10th – 16th June (Bloomsday) articles such as the results of a recent Inspiring Cities workshop at the DIT School of Spatial Planning – focussing on what to do with badly-used, disused and under-used spaces in the city – will be reported.We have discussions on Art in Dublin City and examples from around the world showing how culture can be used to improve the city and the lives of its inhabitants. And we meet with some key thinkers on urban development in Ireland, including Anngret Simms, David Norris, Conor Skehan, Frank McDonald and others.For more information about Inspiring Cities Dublin Week, contact email@example.com
About Inspiring Cities
Inspiring Cities is the International Network for Culture and Cities. Our motto is “searching for the soul of the city”. Our aim is to gather ideas and to formulate and promote initiatives relating to urban and cultural development.
International network. Inspiring Cities is an international network and has organised innovative events and projects exploring the relationship between cities and culture. Members of the Inspiring Cities network work as project and process managers, advisors, designers, artists and organisers of cultural activity
Open source network. Inspiring Cities is an Open Source network. Members of our network submit and edit stories on our website www.erasmuspc.com. We not only publish new ideas on the website. We also use the knowledge we find in our professional work, both as Inspiring Cities and via other organisations in our network.
Unstoppable urban ideas factory. The open source character of our network provides us with a constant flow of new information on cities and culture. The resulting community of professional people and those interested in urban ideas provides an independent approach to thinking about the city.
Excellent organisational ability. One of the key activities of Inspiring Cities is organising meetings and events. On our website several examples of these events can be found. As an open source network we try to publish not only the highlights of the events, but also presentations, videos and so on so that people can experience the event virtually or physically.
Natural networking capability. The success of Inspiring Cities is the success of the network. The people in our network share a passion for cities and culture. Inspiring Cities meetings and discussions show this passion, and attract a mix of disciplines and people who share our interest
For more information about Inspiring Cities Dublin Week, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
A group of professional Planners get together to discuss current issues and developments in Irish Spatial Planning and to generate new ideas about how Planning and Planners can continue to positively impact peoples’ experience of city life in Dublin.
The presentations and input covered a diversity of topics, reflecting the background of those involved. The particular group of planners had recently graduated from a course at the DIT School of Spatial Planning specifically designed to attract talent from related industries into the planning profession. Those involved came from architecture, digital mapping, economics, environmental engineering, marine biology and transport. The Inspiring Cities Spatial Planning Salon took place at 122 Parkgate Place, Parkgate, Dublin 8 on 13th October 2006. It was run as part of the Inspiring Cities “Culture in the City” event held in different parts of Dublin on the same weekend. For more information about the Inspiring Cities “Culture in the City” Spatial Planning Salon, contact Dave O’Connor at email@example.com
Perhaps the recurring theme within this array of subjects was the extent to which the community were perceived to be excluded from the planning process. Planners and their daily activities seem to be subverted to the demands of a planning system that is highly responsive to the market, without addressing long-term social priorities. There was a strong belief that proper spatial planning could benefit the economy while genuinely responding to the needs of communities.
Perhaps it’s not arrogance, but rather it’s an issue of under-resourced people, under-trained and inexperienced planners. Either way, planning has to be more than a box ticking exercise.
Many planners are passionate about planning, but don’t exist within a planning system characterised by decent leadership. It’s ironic that Ireland’s most famous planner is probably a journalist, Frank McDonald of the Irish Times.
The key problems lie within the planning system in Ireland. Planners don’t own the planning function. This is the job of the county administrator, while planners have to deal with too much administration. Planners are not brought up in an environment where planning is respected.”
Discussion: But why is Planning not respected in Ireland?
“Peoples’ experience of planning is problematic, there are too many opinions, although of course a lot of planning is opinion and aesthetics.
This raises the tricky issue of imposing one’s personal aesthetics on others.
Another major issue are the larger developments that no county managers will refuse, since they are desperate for the incremental rates income. Planning issues get sidelined because of financial considerations. A classic example is the IKEA development in Fingal County Council. In cases such as this, the planner (and the community) will always lose out.”
So the official rules are – in a sense – fake rules?
“Politics is a big issue. Politicians are showing no strategic thinking or leadership. The Irish National Spatial Strategy is not forceful enough. It should be the bible for all professional planners.”
Disussion: Are there any examples of which Irish planners can be proud?
“Yes, for example my brother was recently back in Dublin for first time in a long time, and he was really enthused by the vibrancy of the city, and by new developments such as Wallace’s Italian Quarter on Dublin’s quays.
The Irish planning system is very different to the Dutch system. In my experience Dutch planners are very impressed with what has been achieved in planning in Ireland without the kind of powers and government support they enjoy.
Why has Dublin changed in this respect? Is it because capital is now available for investment in the city? Can the changes in the city be contrasted with suburbs which lack development capital?
Section 23 incentives were key, although there was as much development happening outside Section 23 areas. But there was a genuine move back to the city driven by the market. Even the market needs planning, planning is good for the market.
We do have to acknowledge the insight of certain developers, for example the Italian Quarter (Mick Wallace), also Castlethorn in Adamstown. Some developers are more interested than others in the provision of social housing, I would say only fifty percent of Irish developers are interested in making this social contribution. Planning’s emphasis seems to be on development control rather than on aspects of creativity. This is generating a reinforcing of existing habits or traditions rather than a culture of ‘breaking the mould’. For example, no data exists on Cultural Diversity issues in Dublin, planners are not proactively going out to research this topic and its influence on city development.
There are just five planners in the Department of the Environment, and consultants write all development guidelines.”
Discussion: What about all the opportunities for Planning we heard about in the presentations? We can’t just blame the developers. What can be done to change the situation?
“Well, for example, there is an amazing opportunity to apply planning techniques to the open seas.
We’re not that bad, but there was a huge opportunity lost for energy conservation planning. But we planners need a political champion. There is too much complacency at the political level, even compared to the UK. We need to plan for communities not spaces, but we tend to highlight spaces as good examples of planned communities.
Dolphins Barn is a good example of a highly planned space – yet now there are lots of immigrants, but little chance for local residents to meet them – there are no parks or playgrounds. As a result there is no interaction.
Interaction often starts with a local school. During the Inspiring Cities New Towns Salon we have seen many cultures positively interacting in Ongar in schools. Education planning is a huge issue in Dublin.
Pre-school childcare facilities in Ireland are not interlinked with schools for example.”
What is the role of planning in this case?
“Everyone involved in the process is waiting for someone else to act, when in fact planners can take the lead here, bringing in relevant departments as appropriate.
“A good example of proactive planning are the Educate Together schools, where communities are creating their own schools in their own areas.
These are a good example but they are small examples. Diversity and education don’t go hand in hand in this country.
The Catholic Church is still a huge force here. For example in County Meath, the Church often snaps up development sites zoned for education.
That’s also the case in the Dublin North Fringe where neither of the Churches has highlighted the need for schools, and as a result planners have not taken initiative here.
This is an opportunity for planners. The Architecture world is always trying to break the mould, but the Planning world is much more static. The current situation in Dublin should be regarded as a carte blanche opportunity for new ways of working.
Planning in Ireland is based on precedent. Planners typically don’t want to go against previous decisions of other planners.
A good case of planners being given the power to take planning initiatives is that of Wicklow Town rezoning. The Council only intervened when rates considerations were involved but even then they listened to logical arguments. Once they had enough rateable land they accepted other arguments.
Dublin has been without a city manager for some time now. The absence of a manager makes a big difference. What will the effect of the new manager be?
And managers are not necessarily trained in planning and design concepts, yet they have huge influence over planners and the planning system.
As a result of this, planners are becoming disillusioned and planning is losing good talent in Ireland. It needs leaders.
A key question is who are you planning for? I would focus a lot on the environment the environment, so it’s interesting that for Aine it’s more the social aspect of planning.
The Irish Planning Institute should get working groups together!”
Discussion: But what can we do ourselves as planners to make a difference?
“Better organise ourselves.
Think ‘future’ not ‘past’.
Rescue communities that have been left out in the cold.
Invest in model or prototype projects such as isolated communities and areas.
There is a negative view of technologies among Irish planners, software and computer literacy is very poor (databases, GIS etc). I would consider this to be a major issue in Irish planning.
I also recognise that issue from the Netherlands.”
Discussion: But what examples could be highlighted in a hypothetical Inspiring Cities press release? You should highlight good examples such as Temple Bar, which after all is regarded as one of most successful regeneration projects in recent European history. There are examples in Dublin city centre, which Planners from around world come to visit. For example, what is the secret of Grafton Street?
“For me, the redevelopment of Henry Street is one of the big successes, along with the introduction of the LUAS tram network.
We should do a Mobility Plan for a particular area.
We could research the impact on public health of well planned areas with good public transport systems.
What if the government gave away 10,000 bicycles a year and invested in cycle lanes? How would this impact transport and mobility in the city?
Home composting would be a simple, low cost possible initiative
I found that slide illustrating what we have lost in terms of light pollution had a very strong impact.
Light pollution is like a cancer spreading, it is just laziness for Irish people to accept this, why should we give in to a non-natural state? Most people don’t realise what’s happening because they are indoors watching television.”
Discussion: Finally, let’s summarise the good, the bad and the opportunities in Irish Spatial Planning.
“We need to be enthusiastic about the future, to recognise mistakes but also learn from each other and build a better world!
We need to start a public discourse in order to challenge the status quo and start debates. Planning needs champions, maybe it’s time for us to be that champion. This could be done via a weekly column in one of the national papers.
Or it could be done at local level rather than national level.
A small working group could be set up within the IPI to push Inspiring Cities concepts, working within the existing structure of the IPI rather than rejecting it or challenging it.
I would suggest the idea of policy champions to generate publicity and to get the issue on the table for public discussion.
There is a great opportunity for planners to get involved in marine spatial planning. The links between marine and transport, social issues, economics etc are obvious, there is a very broad scope of impacts to be looked at.
The future of Dublin Bay is a key issue for me. It raises important issues of environmental sustainability versus development, transport and energy policies. This is a concept that could be developed if we all get together for weekend.
Another example could be the Liffey Valley National Park concept. We could also look at the development of the Dublin Mountains as a public amenity.”
Discussion: There appears to be lots of ideas here for a follow-up meeting?
“The IPI will support a conference on cultural diversity, this could be something Inspiring Cities could run with, we just need to do it and organise it.
Another idea that would be great to do would be a series of documentaries or programmes on Dublin’s new towns like Ongar, telling the stories of the new communities that have emerged from what were – until a few years ago – fields of cows.
The key point in any follow-up is that we need to make it an interdisciplinary team involving other professions and groups.
Perhaps we could make submissions on the plans of other local areas via the IPI?
We could, but only at a relatively strategic level.
It would be easy to collate new plans in order to create an Irish database of plans, which would then act as a resource for the planning industry generally.
There is a need for planners to focus on less obvious areas such as the North Fringe, rather than to just focus on the city centre. In outlying areas there is more opportunity to planners to create because the sites are often greenfield spaces.”
The Inspiring Cities Spatial Planning Salon took place at 122 Parkgate Place, Parkgate, Dublin 8 on 13th October 2006. It was run as part of the Inspiring Cities “Culture in the City” event held in different parts of Dublin on the same weekend.
For more information about the Inspiring Cities “Culture in the City” Spatial Planning Salon, contact Dave O’Connor firstname.lastname@example.org
At the April 2007 Inspiring Cities / School of Spatial Planning “Lost Spaces” Workshop we set out to discover badly used and under-used spaces in the city that can be brought back to life.
It did not take us long to think of Newmarket Square, located just off Cork Street and penned in by the Tenters, the Liberties and the Cork Street Corridor, Newmarket Square is a large rectangular space that, as we found out, has been neglected, in spite of fantastic cultural potential. Inspiring Cities set out to discover the soul of Newmarket Square and to translate that soul into ideas that could animate Newmarket Square.
Click here to read more about the Inspiring Cities / School of Spatial Planning Newmarket Workshop (PDF, 1.5 Mb).
This workshop and article are part of the
Inspiring Cities 2007 Dublin Week
Inspiring Cities is organising Cultural Change Salons in Dublin.
The cultural landscape of contemporary Dublin – its form, its character, and its people are changing so quickly that it is often difficult to observe and understand. Following on from our successful Salon in Rotterdam Inspiring Cities are hosting a series of salons on the weekend of Saturday 14th of October 2006 in Dublin. We will bring together local and international experts involved in a particular aspect of the cultural life of Dublin to provide a forum for the participants to share their passion and ideas and experience and engage in debates and discussions that will reveal positive and original thoughts.
- Example: New Town Culture
The themes of seven salons that will be hosted are:
– Contrasting experiences of areas undergoing organised cultural change
- Celtic Cubs– perspectives from the generation that only knows the boom times sac
- New Town Culture– Dublin has up to 10 new towns under development. How are they turning out?
The Salon on New Town Culture for instance will focus on how up to 10 New Towns are being developed and occupied in Dublin right now. Places like Adamstown, the Docklands, Ongar, Pelletstown and Tyrrelstown are all being designed according to an original concept plan to provide for the needs of a new community. How are they turning out and what it is like to live there? These are relevant questions that will be discussed by both people who were involved in their design and people who are now living there.
Why are we doing this?
The salon represents a chance to do something that these hectic times rarely afford us: the time to discuss and debate issues affecting our city that we feel strongly about. It provides an opportunity to meet people with similar interests in a unique environment. It is also a chance to network and meet new people in a different environment.
Most importantly, we want you, the participant, to take something valuable away. We also hope that the process is a learning experience that leads to better processes for cultural development in the future.
How it all works?
The salon will be an informal event. It takes place in the homes of Dublin residents.
Each salon hosts a group of five participants a facilitator and an editor and in each salon there will be a least one international participant.
The event begins with a bite to eat: a chance to relax and to get to know each other.
Each participant then has the opportunity to make a brief powerpoint presentation about their own take at the salon topic: how it relates to their passion, to what motivates and inspires them.
The participants then discuss the salon topic for an hour or so.
On the evening of Saturday the 14th of October, there will be an opportunity for all participants to come together and discuss their experience. This will be a social event as much as a chance to network and meet other people involved in the cultural development of Dublin.
It is our intention to document each salon and make the outcomes available as a learning resource for others interested in the cultural development of Dublin.
In the coming weeks we will keep you updated on the theme’s and topics of each Salon, the participants, the program and the other highlights of the Dublin Cultural Chance Salons.
Inspiring Cities / DIT Culture in the City Workshop
Inspiring Cities and the Dublin Institute of Technology are hosting a “Culture in the City” Workshop at the School of Spatial Planning, DIT, Bolton Street in Dublin on Friday 27th April.
The event will be a day long exercise to find ways of rediscovering and animating lost corners of Dublin’s urban landscape. The focus on cultural planning will include teams of students, academics and practitioners who will use creative techniques to search for the soul of city spaces that are in some way special. The purpose of the event is to merge the academic and professional worlds into a unified “knowledge culture”. The event will focus on the uniqueness and individuality of certain places. Cultural planning experts from Ireland and abroad will give examples of urban cultural projects before the teams will explore the city and come up with their own creative ideas. The results will be available soon as part of the forthcoming Inspiring Cities “Dublin Week”.
DIY culture salon: is there an ideal urban context for independent culture?
The Coombe, 14th October 2006.
An “economist of the imagination” from Rotterdam, a Dublin City Council planner, a coordinator of an artist-run gallery/studios, the publisher of a literary magazine, and members of an artists’ collective discuss DIY Culture and the City.
For the purposes of the salon, DIY Culture was broadly defined as “independent cultural initiatives operating outside – sometimes in parallel with, often in opposition to – mainstream arts institutions or commercial structures.” As a starting point for discussion, it was proposed that DIY Culture has the potential to meaningfully contribute to the life and physical fabric of the city, to the extent that perhaps a strong DIY culture in the arts constitutes a defining characteristic of any truly dynamic and interesting city. Furthermore, it was noted that the emergence of independent cultural initiatives often results in the transformation of marginal areas of the city into vibrant urban districts and that this informal process is becoming an instrument of policy, as planners look to DIY Culture to act as a catalyst for urban regeneration.
The DIY Culture Salon asked: Is there an ideal urban context in which independent culture thrives? Can this context be created, or at least actively encouraged? Are there good examples of this from other cities? What are the prospects for DIY Culture in Dublin today? What about in the past? And for the future?
The participants in the salon included “economist of the imagination” Paul Kuijpers, a cultural exhibition/events organiser from Rotterdam; Kieran Rose, Dublin City Council planner for the Liberties/Coombe area; Brendan Barrington founder/publisher/editor or The Dublin Review; Peter Prendergast, co-organiser of Monstertruck Gallery and Studios on Francis Street in the Liberties/Coombe area; and Susan Gogan, Sally Timmons and Sarah O’Toole, the members of visual arts collective VIA. The event began with a presentation from each participant describing his or her own experience as a DIY Culture practitioner or, in the case of Kieran Rose, describing planning initiatives for the Liberties/Coombe centred on the relationship between culture and the city.
Click here for video of Csaba Ziros at the Odessa Club
Csaba Zsiros [email@example.com]
Paul Kuijpers [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Kieran Rose [email@example.com]
Peter Prendergast [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Brendan Barrington [email@example.com]
Susan Gogan [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sally Timmons [email@example.com]
Organisations and Initiatives Represented
For more information about the Inspiring Cities “Culture in the City” DIY Culture Salon, contact Matthew Beattie at firstname.lastname@example.org
Inspiring Cities “Culture in the City” New Town Salon
Ongar, 14th October 2006: An architect, a planner, a teacher and residents (both foreign and local), all involved in one way or another in Ongar life, discuss this Dublin New Town and its future.
Dublin has over 10 new towns under development in places like Adamstown, Baldoyle, Docklands, Ongar and Tyrrelstown. Each of them will have a population of up to 30,000 people. They are all being planned, to varying degrees, according to a spatial planning scheme. It is envisaged that they would not only provide for basic housing, but would also include all the ingredients for community life, with shops, public transport, clinics, schools, parks and all the necessary elements for a town to succeed. Inspiring Cities’s “Culture in the City” event wanted to find out how are they turning out?
A New Town salon was organised and the focus was on Ongar. Ongar is being constructed beyond Blanchardstown in west Dublin and includes a village centre with a shopping street, businesses and community facilities. There will be up to 10,000 houses built in the wider Ongar area. A quality bus corridor has been extended to serve the town. Reservations were made for a school and recreational amenities.
Ongar Main Street
The participants in the salon included Mary, a teacher at the nearby Educate Together school, James, an architect involved in the scheme design, Aideen, a resident on the school committee who returned to Ireland from London, Tom, a resident who is also involved in the planning system and Becky, a resident who has moved to Ireland from Nigeria. Each of the guests presented a story of life in Ongar from their perspective using pictorial slides. Maarten Konigs of the Holland Branding Group, a Dutch urban development consultancy, facilitated a dialogue between all of the guests.
The salon took place in a classroom in the nearby Educate Together primary school and it was an appropriate location, as schooling became a central theme of the dialogue. The multicultural primary school serving Ongar is located in Castaheany, a slightly older nearby suburb and it is in temporary accommodation. While a reservation exists within Ongar for a school it has been slow to arrive and is still held up in the planning process. For some time, in fact, children had to be bussed to Lucan and Becky, one of the guests, has to leave home at 6am daily to take her daughter to school in Finglas.
Children from Ongar at the Castaheany Educate Together School
Much of the focus of the talk was about a dream for children, to create a place for children to be happy and safe. This central theme kept on recurring and it was clear that the determination of the residents was to make this happen. Elements of the design favoured this too. By building a mix of houses a sustainable community could form in the area. And there were safe, traffic-free places for children. But Maarten Konigs made a counter-observation that “sometimes children take their parents for a ride in new towns. When their reasoning is completely oriented in their children, it is hard to have a discussion on what does it mean for the parents themselves”.
Importantly, the area seems safe and free of racism or crime problems. It seems in Ongar that there is a positive attitude towards multi-culturalism. This contrasts with very sad stories of racist-attacks in other neighbourhoods not far from Ongar. This is in spite of the absence of any community policing. And there is no centre for people to meet and engage in community activities. This seems like an oversight when such effort was made to provide a clinic and an entire village centre, complete with (a very popular) café, a supermarket, offices and local shops.
While most of the residents seem inured to the fact, Maarten Konigs, a visitor to the area was struck by the prevalence of walls and fences. “I think it is a strange, peculiar cultural thing that you can rethink”. People didn’t seem to have a strong opinion as to whether they created a safer or more threatening atmosphere, but most people seemed used to them, as if they were a natural feature. But there seems to be no sense in having a bus stop 50 metres from a house while it takes a half a kilometre to walk there.
The Ongar Distributor Road
The desire for a real community and one with a heart to it was unmistakable in the discussion. Delivering the school was an obvious focus for this. A community newspaper was suggested. And some residents had even placed leaflets in doors suggesting a social-night in a pub. But Konigs, involved from day-to-day in urban development in Holland, asked “wouldn’t it be nice for some private-public initiatives to happen. Local government seems to be completely anonymous [in Ongar]. It is as if the local Council does not have a phone number. In Holland it is the opposite, with Councils chasing residents saying ‘we want to help you’”.
One of the most poignant slides displayed was an aerial picture of an old Irish monastic town with its unmistakable character and how different it seemed from modern Ongar. It made the point very strongly that it takes time to build a town. If we really want to build them in five years (and five years ago there were cows and horsed wandering around where houses now stand in Ongar), then a special effort is needed.
It is clear that everybody has a part to play in creating a new town like Ongar. Of course, responsible development and good design are essential, but there are other needs: an eager community (not, evidently, a problem in Ongar), committed politicians and an active local authority. And if schools are needed, central government has a part to play as well, since it is they who provide them. The story of Ongar, then, is like a school-pupils scorecard, but one where you need a pass in every subject to get by. Life in a new town doesn’t function properly, it seems, if one of the subjects – a school, a playground, a community centre, a Garda, a church – is left off the card.
The Inspiring Cities New Town Salon took place at the Castaheany Educate Together School, close to Ongar on 14thOctober 2006. It was run as part of the Inspiring Cities “Culture in the City” event held in different parts of Dublin on the same weekend.
Salon participants: –
Organisations and Initiatives Represented
For more information about the Inspiring Cities “Culture in the City” New Town Salon, contact David O’Connor email@example.com