The masterplanning architect, Neil Deely of Metropolitan Workshop, talked of a culture unburdened by cynicism and the mistakes of the past, with high aspirations, a sense of patronage, and how all this might help to create a new identity for Irish architecture. Deely’s surprise at the openness of the
developer to ideas was salutary.
The next day I went to a meeting with a London developer, one trying to do good work and getting to grips with mixed-use in a serious way. We talked about space standards and design quality, and he said the market will provide – higher quality will be for those who can afford it. We pondered the rabbit-hutch apartments under construction in London and how they might be improved when those
consumers are rarely owner-occupiers.
Britain might like to think of Ireland as a place below in the development firmament, but the country has its first generation of rich entrepreneurs, and there is nothing naïve about their Celtic Tiger attitude.
We know that Scandinavia, the Netherlands, most of central Europe and Spain are ahead of us in residential design, and now we find our neighbour to the west has ignored what passes for best practice in the UK, looking to Europe for precedents. Ireland has space standards, visionary planners, and young, ambitious developers. It has all but banned single-aspect flats. Irish developers are commissioning the country’s best architects, rather than ignoring them.
Adamstown is one of the major new-town projects in Europe, as big as Almere in the Netherlands. We will be bringing you a lot more on the project, and those involved with new-town development in the UK would do well to take a look.