Medium_zorica-oct11-phedits BREAKING THE CYCLE: Student project addresses urban dereliction and underdevelopment in Dublin

13 Jul 08:59

Prof. Zorica Nedović Budić


Over the past two decades, Dublin city centre has experienced substantial redevelopment, revitalisation and infrastructure provision, including a new light rail system (LUAS).

However, the area along the LUAS ‘red’ line to the west of centrally located O’Connell Bridge / Street does not seem to have benefitted from the overall growth and momentum. Substantial plans and forthcoming projects are being pursued in the vicinity and Dublin City Council has embarked on preparing a local area plan for this 2km long corridor.

To contribute to those efforts, in autumn of 2014 five students attending the Master’s of Regional and Urban Planning (MRUP) professional programme at University College Dublin engaged in a plan-making studio focusing on a strategy to counter the underdevelopment and reactivate the area’s underused sites.

This strategy draws on the local capital, which includes ethnically diverse (about half non-Irish) and young population, historic assets and proximity to the commercial and tourist heart of the city.

Based on local statistics, GIS analysis, reports and other documents, and field work (interviews with residents and business) the students developed a SWOT matrix which pointed to the area’s key challenges and opportunities.
The strategy for moving forward features short term interventions and long term projects, supported by the recently introduced vacant land levy.

The STRATEGY and OBJECTIVES are integrated across three themes and related interventions and solutions with the ultimate aim to enhance the area’s liveability and quality of life. Addressing the fundamental problem of dereliction and vacancy is the priority which will facilitate the achievement of the broader objectives and improvements.

Development & Enterprise strategy is focused on activating underutilised spaces by catalysing development through three key nodes:
  1. Collins Barracks area (including the National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History, currently closed Croppies Acre Memorial Park and Law Society’s underutilised land);
  2. recently regenerated Smithfield area (including Smithfield Square, a large vacant site owned by the Office of Public Works and two tourist attractions — the Jameson Distillery and St. Michan’s Church);
  3. Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Market (including the Market and Dublin Bus’ underutilised site).

Further developments around these three nodes would attract both external and inward investments and provide for local business and employment opportunities. This strategy builds upon, as well as supports, Housing & Community objectives, which ensure that the new activities draw on the community resources and engage with the local residents and businesses. The enhanced and re-activated spaces are for the community as much as they are to serve and will be integrated in the citywide, national and international social and economic flows. As important as the social and economic links is the physical connectivity of spaces and main activity nodes – business and community. In line with the integrated and sustainability-based approach taken by this project, this connectivity is achieved through the Green Urban Realm strategy and related objectives. These objectives promote the ecological and environmental enhancement of the local urban spaces, and the use of primary corridors for active transport (cycling and walking) as a complement to the existing public and private modes.

The strategies developed to address the problems of underdevelopment in the red LUAS line corridor in Dublin’s city centre are in the spirit of the TURAS project. They envision that the complex urban issues can be solved only through an integrated approach. The integrated strategies should incorporate pathways for transitioning toward a viable, well-functioning and attractive urban environment. In this project, the transition is based on implementation of ideas proposed and promoted for re-activation of the local spaces and community through structured steps and instruments and with involvement of all relevant stakeholders. The benefits of such improvements would spread well beyond local. Site by site, area by area – connected into high quality and liveable urban fabric, we ensure our places and communities are sustainable and resilient.

University College Dublin, Autumn 2014
PEP40690 Planning Studio: Plan Making
Module Coordinator: Professor Zorica Nedović-Budić
Studio Director: Mr. Michael Wall, Architect, MRUP and Practicing Barrister
Ms. Johanna Varghese, MRUP, TURAS researcher and Dublin City Council adjunct staff
Ms. Aoife Corcoran, Master of GeoInformatics, PhD student, TURAS researcher
Students: Camille Bleytou, David Ferguson, Daniel Moody, Jiaxin Liu, Ian Williamson