The project comprises the development of a public square and the upgrade of a prominent lane in the heart of Dún Laoghaire town. One of the primary challenges relates to the multi-modal and multi stakeholder demands in this urban environment. The project proposes a dramatic redistribution of public realm space in favour of pedestrians and as a destination space. The space will retain access for deliveries, albeit in a sporadic and highly controlled manner. The site has long been highlighted as a location for a public square, which the town has historically lacked. Balancing the twin demands of a pleasant, aesthetically agreeable urban environment and the functional requirements for heavy goods vehicles access is a key balancing act within the project. The safety, comfort, and enjoyment of users lingering in the main space as well as pedestrians and cyclist are the key priorities which the design reflects.
Greening is a central aspect of the project. The proposal to bring generous greening into the centre of the town was enthusiastically supported by the public during the planning process. Greening is seen as contributing functionally to the scheme through the ability of trees canopies, root systems and soft landscape areas to attenuate, intercept rainfall and surface run-off and reduce the urban heat island effect. The ability of trees to capture particulate matter as well as to absorb carbon dioxide are seen as major health benefits. The potential to provide habitat for wildlife in the centre of the town is another positive characteristic. The landmark canopy structure will act as a frame to grow climbing plants on. Climate related aspects of this project can found in the related documents below.
The canopy structure has several purposes as follows:
- To create a striking landmark for the town.
- To draw footfall. The structure slightly oversails the building line inviting people up to investigate.
- To form a gateway you pass under coming into the new public square.
- A backdrop for events. The stage will be underneath it.
- To continue the scale and building line along George’s Street. We removed a small block of buildings and this structure replaces it.
- The shape of the structure has a strong maritime/ nautical theme. Creating identity and connection with the harbour and coastline. (People have mentioned Harland and Wolff in Belfast.)
- It is a pergola frame to grow planting up through. We will be planting fully mature 7m Wisteria plants, evergreen jasmine, ornamental grape vines and honeysuckle.
- It will have bird and bat boxes integrated into it.
The orientation of the main street means there is a lot of shadow across it in the afternoon. The square receives generous sunlight for most of the day. The structure is porous & open and we have tilted it up to allow the evening sun to shine through it onto the spill over space we are creating on George’s Street outside the hospital.
The rest of the materials and colours in the space are all very muted. The decision was very deliberate to give the structure a yellow colour to make it stand out as a local landmark. The timber slats are now giving it a more natural appearance with more shadows and texture. The climbing plants will give it even more grounding.
The rest of the materials and colours in the space are all very muted. The decision was very deliberate to give the structure a yellow colour to make it stand out as a local landmark. The timber slats are now giving it a more natural appearance with more shadows and texture as well. The climbing plants will give it even more grounding.
The project aims and objectives are as follows:
- A green destination in the core of the town that contrasts and softens the hard urban environment and where natural light can permeate through the space
- A place that is central to the regeneration and vitality, the economic growth and development of Dún Laoghaire town
- A respite from the bustling urban environments, where people can meet and linger peacefully and where pedestrians take priority over any vehicular movements.
- A destination which can accommodate events and seasonal displays and will draw people from the seafront into the town
Enabling works comprising the sensitive removal of the buildings and the provision of a temporary square were undertaken in 2021 as a COVID-19 response measure.
Construction works were complete in early November 2023.
A drawing of the proposed plans and the Climate Integration Report for this project are available to view below.