Context of Competition
Hack the City was an initiative of the Science Gallery Dublin to ‘re-purpose” existing urban assets in new, creative ways. It was an open brief for interpretation. We put together the draft proposal and gathered a team of diverse , talented people to deliver it focusing on 2 buildings 20-21 Thomas Street , former 18th Century Merchant houses. Valuable earlier research had been carried out on 20-21 Thomas Street Dutch Billies by architect Peter Keenahan and he generated the reinstatement drawings and images.
While unsuccessful in the competition, the momentum of the core team team continued and research into the content by architect Katya Samodurova and delivery of the exhibition continued. The Dublin Civic Trust completed it’s report on the Street and was instrumental in bringing the conservation professionals to the site. One invaluable offshoot for the street was the Thomas Street Stakeholder Forum which is currently evolving a collective strategy for improving the street and is facilitated by Killian O Higgins.
Competition Team and Advisors
- Frank Hughes – Frankarchitecture– Lead
- Geraldine Walsh – Economist and CEO Dublin Civic Trust
- Graham Hickey – Architectural Historian Dublin Civic Trust
- Edel Flynn- Digital Hub Commercial Director
- Ruth Flynn – Digital Hub Client Services
- Duncan Stewart – Broadcaster and Architect – Energy Focus on historic buildings
- Killian O Higgins – Surveyor
- Mary Mulvihill – Broadcaster, writer and Director of Ingenious Ireland
- Gabrielle Stafford – Director Twelve Horses – Open Data , census records and Mapping
- Tim Redfern – Multi Media Artist – Director Adaptics
- Kieran O Hea- Digital Professional – Currently Chief Digital Officer of Brisbane
- Padraic Kelly – Managing Director Happold Consulting – Regeneration
- Grainne Carvill– Illustrator and Graphic Designer
- Moggie Douglas – Theatre Designer
- Edith Blennerhassett – OLM Consulting Dublin
Project Description as submitted
HACK THE CITY
21st Century Powerhouse – Repurposing the Historic Urban Merchant House for the Creative City Quarter at 20-21 Thomas Street Dublin
Transforming two iconic, unused, mute and hugely significant early 18th Century Dutch Billy merchant houses in Thomas Street, Dublin 8, into a vibrant venue and projection backdrop for envisioning and debating the regeneration of this key historic city quarter.
The aim is understand the value and contribution of the ‘everyday’ historic street buildings of the city, and showcase innovative technologies in adapting historic buildings for creative new uses (as demonstrated through restoration by Dublin Civic Trust over the past twenty years.)
The proposal consists of the following:
STREET PROJECTION : 20 and 21 Thomas Street – transformed, wrapped in canvas with animated projection of façade restoration ( stop animation ) on 3-5 minute loop.
This will be created by Multi Media Artist Tim Redfern. and Illustrator Grainne Carvill (see photo CGI of researched original facades)
VENUE: Installation of a contemporary Pop Up venue within the former shop in number 20, housing 3 wall multi-media projections housing exhibition, presentation and workshops space. The focus will be on the science and creative process involved in Regeneration.Designed to be a visitor and local attraction on EAST-WEST City Axis (as currently under development by Fáilte Ireland and instigated by Dublin Civic Trust.)
This will be designed and curated by Designer, Architect Frank Hughes and Architectural Historian Graham Hickey of the Dublin Civic Trust with input from our key Digital and Regeneration partners.
DIASPORA TREASURE TRAIL: This web and real world trail focused on this quarter of Dublin will be designed to engage the global diaspora and resident Irish community to solve key clues relating to key technologies and innovations developed by people of Irish descent all over the world spanning 4 centuries .It will be designed as an interactive web support to the ‘Gathering’ – diaspora project for 2013 run by the Tourism Board.
This will be designed by the Core Team with input from key Digital and Scientific partners. Prizes of family trips , internships with Digital Companies, Start Up Mentoring and Educational placements will be offered. Different age group categories and schools etc will engage with multi channel communications campaign.
KEY ISSUES: Regenerating and redesigning historic city quarters and buildings. The pivotal design processes involved and successful international models to learn from will be explored in the venue and online. These will use a mix of digital media, animation and simulation, workshops and thematic exhibitions.
KEY PROCESSES TO BE EXPLORED IN VENUE, WEBSITE & BLOGS – using multimedia and artefacts. These will be designed and facilitated with key practitioners within their respective fields. These will be curated by the Dublin Civic Trust Team, The Digital Hub , International Property Consultant Killian O’Higgins and our extended partners.
Historic Context and Importance of No. 20 and No. 21
Proposed Venue Houses
No. 20 and No. 21 are located at the western end of Thomas Street in the historic Liberties area of Dublin 8, comprising a central component of a terrace of historic buildings owned and managed by the Digital Hub Development Agency. In spite of unassuming appearances to the street, remarkably, the pair of houses are a nationally significant pair of early 18th century formerly gable-fronted houses of the Dutch-gabled tradition of pre-Georgian Dublin, of which relatively few survive in the city, and of which not one survives intact with an original gable fronting the street. No. 20 dates to c. 1730 and No. 21 to c. 1700-20.
They are an architectural typology of house that dominated prior to and overlapping with the Georgian expansion of Dublin, during which entire streets were developed as decorative gable-topped brick houses for approximately the century 1650-1750. Once gables become unfashionable after this date, gables were built up, built over, or the attic storey demolished entirely. As such, No. 20 and No. 21 present a fascinating story of ‘hidden heritage’ waiting to be uncovered.
Although currently in an advanced state of disrepair, No. 20 and No. 21 are eminently restorable back to their original condition, with many historic elements still intact, including substantial structural fabric of masonry and timber, staircases and some decorative joinery and plasterwork. These properties represent a unique national architectural heritage opportunity to reinstate a grouping of gable-fronted houses back to their original streetscape appearance and interior layout and decoration, as well as serve as a catalyst for regeneration along the western stretch of Thomas Street, and as a cultural attraction of considerable architectural significance and distinction.
The houses are located in an incredibly rich historic district, sited along the ancient route into Dublin, the great Slighe Mór, which later became St. Thomas Street. As the original Viking settlement of Dublin grew into a fortified medieval town, St. Thomas Street became the main street of The Liberties, an ecclesiastical and later mercantile district located outside of the city walls and hence not subject to the jurisdiction of the city. To this day, The Liberties retains a very distinctive identity and a curious sense of detachment from the main city centre to the east.
As Dublin expanded and developed through the 18th and 19th centuries, Thomas Street evolved into an important commercial and industrial thoroughfare, lined with merchant houses, shops and institutions. Silk weaving, the linen industry, tanning and porcelain making, religious institutions and hospitals were all prominent stakeholders in the area. Likewise, breweries and distilleries had a fundamental role to play in Thomas Street’s economic prominence, including Roe’s and Power’s distilleries and the great Guinness brewery, giving the area a defining sense of purpose and character within the wider city.
This layered and complex history of innovation, adaptation, mercantile creativity and urban living has a remarkable story to tell for the hundreds of thousands of visitors who frequent the Guinness Storehouse adjacent to No. 20 and No. 21. There is enormous potential to harness this audience to effect real and lasting regenerative change in this, the most historic and characterful district in Dublin.
Thematic Explorations for venue and project – workshops / live feed / you tube / audio visual video/ films / – Core Team and partners
Relevance of the built fabric of the City Quarter
- How to identify historic, architectural and cultural significances of structures, and embrace urban character areas.
- What gives a city quarter and its buildings its specific character ?
- What makes cities and city quarters inspiring –elusive qualities?
- The Story of a City Quarter – its narrative, as innovator, as educator, as inspiring place to live, work, play – evolution/street architectural styles , uses over time.
- Urban Dialogues over centuries – examples London, Paris, Bordeaux, Dublin, Bath etc,
- Showcasing fundamental structural form and technologies of the ‘Dutch Billy’ gable-fronted house type, once prolific across the city.
- Financial Models for restoration and re use of historic Buildings and Regeneration used by the Dublin Civic Trust and others
- What kills a city?
- Letters from Abroad – Diaspora and Visitor perspective of the city and its potential
- Writing the history of the City and Thomas Street in 2050-
Urban Design as an Integrated process
- Technological innovations of city planning, infrastructure and architecture across four centuries of change.
- Demonstration of key technologies for sensitive adaption of historic buildings.
- Computer Generated Simulations – Design Tools and Integrating Transport, Infrastructure and Buildings and the Public Realm
- Key Urban Design concepts of Grain, Porosity, Path , Edge, Node, District, Landmark.
- Urban Design Workshops for schools and public
- Merging Old with New – Successful models from different countries and Ireland
- Successful models of regeneration of historic city quarters worldwide. Why?
- The Collaborative Process in City Innovation and Design
- Use of Open Data and Mapping to assist in integrated Design Strategies
- Economics and the City in globalised world – As creative test bed , as market , as brand.
- Leadership, Courage and Vision for Cities – Examples Detroit, London, Bordeaux , Paris , Barcelona and others.
- Use and Abuse of regulation to encourage regeneration – International Best Practice examples and critique
Energy and Infrastructure – The Future
- Energy and Infrastructure in the 21st Century Historic City buildings and regenerating quarters
- Adaptation of old buildings to new uses – Techniques, Designs and New / Old Models
- The New Building Blocks of the Digital Hub City Quarter
- Design workshops for schools and Public
- How Smart will the new city need to be?
The Creative City
- New types of uses and demographies – examples, needs , and critique
- The Merchant House, and its Users as Living Laboratory for new processes , technologies for the wider world.
- New Communities and Needs – Diet , Sociability, Activites , Trading, New Shops ,
- Examples from other regeneration projects ?
- Global interconnectivity and this quarter – What is the New Urban Community ?
DUTCH BILLIES (20 -21 Thomas Street) – owned by The Digital Hub
Merchant houses were the staple LIVE / WORK urban street unit for at least the past four centuries in Dublin, representing the prominence and outward looking stylistic influences of the second city of the British Empire. Such housing also represented the innovations and craft of the day in use of brick, glass, heating, water provision and construction materials.
These simple and elegant buildings have served the city and street over four centuries, adapting to new circumstances and now have a new role as prototypes for the future. Using advances in technologies and materials, their restoration and re-purposing will be explored as models for restoration and reuse historic street fabric for the 21st Century.
EXAMPLE OF THEMATIC EXPLORATION
Plotting a Future for Historic Street Buildings and their Regeneration
- Highlighting challenges the townhouse and shop typology of building faces in the 21st century: Energy conservation and internal comfort, architectural heritage protection and conservation, making upper floors of street buildings desirable places to live, changing perceptions of ‘old buildings’.
- Presenting a new model for historic buildings’ use through sensitive and creative new uses, such as digital media incubator space, adaptable residential accommodation, communal space for social connection and ideas exchange, cultural use.
- Showcasing new technologies for assisting sensitive and creative building adaptation using improved servicing and appropriate heating, cooling , energy producing technologies and demonstrating innovative regulation used elsewhere to maintain authenticity of a city’s built fabric.
- Showcasing new application for digital technologies – use of Open Data demonstration projects – focusing on 20-21 -digitising all records of people , activities, deeds, leases, construction methods , newspaper events over 4 centuries , Maps , drawings and photographs to tell the story of a building. Simulations of different scenarios for uses and design impacts , regulation , energy loss, materials, integration of services in buildings , streets and entire city quarters.
Media: Animation, installations, hard text and photographic panels, digital photomontages.