Dixon Jones has submitted plans for its competition-winning scheme to transform Dublin’s historic College Green into a new pedestrian-priority civic plaza
The architect behind the £30 million overhaul of London’s Exhibition Road defeated an unnamed shortlist of five rival firms to land the prestigious Dublin City Council-backed commission in February.
Planned to start on site in January 2018, the 7,300m² project will pedestrianise the historic three-sided plaza, the venue of political rallies and speeches by US presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
Once completed, the tree-lined and granite paved area will host major public gatherings and events with space for up 15,000 people. The existing Henry Grattan and Thomas Davis monuments will be restored, the latter relocated slightly west of its current position.
A new water sculpture featuring 32 water jets programmed to respond to the seasons will also be created, along with a new cycle route and bus turning circle.
Considered Dublin’s equivalent of Trafalgar Square, the city-centre open space is today surrounded by the former Irish Parliament House, now home to the Bank of Ireland, several historic houses and Trinity College Dublin.
Originally known as Hoggen Green, College Green was historically the site of burial mounds thought to have contained the remains of Norse kings of Dublin.
Dixon Jones, working with local practice Paul Keogh Architects, was selected for the project following a two-stage public tender. The project will start on site in January 2018 following the completion of Dublin’s new Luas tram line.
Studio partner Edward Jones said: ‘When we received the original brief from Dublin City Council, the site was described as immediately south of the Bank of Ireland. On further examination the east-west orientation of College Green and its approach via Dame Street from Dublin Castle was noted, resulting in a tapered space focused on the façade of Trinity College.
‘This definition precedes the Bank of Ireland by at least three centuries. This historic alignment is important and the reclamation of the trapezoidal shape of College Green forms the basis of our proposal.’
He continued: ‘The shape much distinguished precedent: from the Piazza del Campidoglio, Piazza di Spagna in Rome, to the Place Dauphine in Paris and more recently Kahn’s Four Freedoms Park in New York in memory of Franklin D Roosevelt.
‘There has much debate about the extent of the plaza. Should it extend to Trinity Street as defined by the historic boundary? Our proposal is based on the expectation that it should extend in the future, once the requirement of the buses has been resolved.’
We are aiming to create ‘Dublin’s living room’
Paul Keogh of Paul Keogh Architects said: ‘With Dublin City Council, we are aiming to create “Dublin’s living room” – a place that is safe, adaptable and friendly for people of all ages, both for everyday social interaction and for major public events, comparable with world-class spaces of similar scale internationally.’
The College Green appointment in February followed Dixon Jones’s selection last summer to revamp the world-famous Olympic Way thoroughfare in Wembley Park. The practice defeated Stanton Williams and Hawkins\Brown to win the commission, which will upgrade the historic main route for visitors approaching Wembley Stadium.