Over the past year we have received a number of comments on Twitter demanding more high rise buildings for Dublin. Ahead of the drafting of the new Dublin City Development Plan earlier this year, state agencies like NAMA and the HSE have also put pressure on DCC to end the restrictive height policy.
The call for higher density and economical competitiveness is opposed by voices that fear the unique intimate character of the city centre could be destroyed. Dublin’s low rise charm is special indeed. We can’t think of any other capital where streets of single-storey cottages could survive market pressure and preserve a village-like atmosphere amidst a vibrant metropolis. And yet, the demand for housing and new office spaces must be met, further urban sprawl to be avoided.
The debate about high rises, their locations in Dublin and the definition of ‘high’ is naturally a very emotional one. It re-negotiates our skyline and its symbolic meaning for Dublin as a rural, urban, traditional or modern city.
But are we asking the right question? The question about what height to allow (similar to the recent debate about minimum apartment size) is misleading because it cannot reflect or guarantee *quality*. What if we concentrated on what kind of city, what kind of buildings we want to live in, what kind of public spaces we would like them to frame? And what if we put all efforts into ensuring that new high density developments suited these goals – small or tall – with high quality construction, innovative typologies and building concepts, a good mix of units, attractive private and semi-private outdoor spaces and well-designed, active ground floor zones of a human scale?
Public submissions on the Development Plan can be made until Friday 11th December. It will come into effect in 2016 and determine construction in Dublin for the next five years. Have your say!
This month we are going to examine the city at eye level on @what_if_Dublin. Send us your pictures of good and bad examples of how buildings face public space in Dublin – they could be featured here next month!