A Packed House in Wood Quay for City Limits

The Wood Quay venue was packed to capacity on Thursday 13th February for the City Limits conference.  Alongside the ten invited speakers, the total attendance on the night was tallied at 210 people.  It was unfortunate however that, owing to the size of the venue, not everybody who arrived could be accommodated.  The event itself was organised by Dublin City Architects in association with Cathal O’Sullivan to contribute to the ongoing debate on how to utilise the large number of underused spaces in the City centre.  Chaired on the night by City Architect Ali Grehan, City Limits featured a number of speakers from a variety of backgrounds with an audience keen to contribute to the discussion.

The night was opened by the Lord Mayor of Dublin Oisín Quinn.  In his address he discussed the motivations and ambitions behind the proposed vacant land levy.  This issue was further elaborated on by Dublin City Council’s senior planner, Kieran Rose.  The proposal was widely supported by those in attendance with many questions, comments, and suggestions coming from the floor.

The diverse range of guest speakers outlined a number of schemes in the city which have used these spaces.  Among them was Sam Bishop, representing UpStart.  In his talk, Sam discussed the hugely popular Granby Park .  This park brought thousands of visitors to an unused site in Dominick Street in the summer of 2013.  Also speaking on the night was Sophie Grafin van Maltzen.  In her presentation, she spoke of the Art Tunnel  which transformed a space near Smithfield, left vacant since the construction of the adjacent Luas Line.  The Audience were also shown a video by Jonathan Legge of Makers and Brothers, who outlined his experience in setting up a small pop up shop in Dame Lane.  This initiative gave on-street presence to his thriving on-line business.


Granby Park,  Dominick Street,  September 2013,  Image courtesy of builtdublin.com 



The Ballymun Rediscovery Centre  was represented on the night by Tara Singleton.  Among the topics she discussed was the ongoing work of the centre in its community.  Since 2005 the centre has provided community employment and training via innovative reuse enterprises which use waste and unwanted materials as a resource and raw material for new product design.  The audience were also informed on the centres’ plan to centralise its activities in the iconic Ballymun Boilerhouse and the challenges and opportunities this presents.

In addition to these celebrated projects were a number of new ideas for tackling vacancy in the city.  Among these was co-organiser Cathal O’Sullivan with his Allotment Homes Proposal.  This scheme looked at ways to provide affordable “temporary” housing using lightweight, prefabricated structures.  This project is inspired by the gap that exists between high rents and unaffordable longer term purchase.  Also addressing the issue of housing on the night was Carol Tallon of Buyer’s Broker.  She highlighted, as did Cathal, the need for a greater variety of houses on offer to meet demand.  Dublin’s City Council’s own Dublin House project was mentioned as a valuable model in this regard.


Throughout the night there was a constant stream of ideas coming from the floor.  This level of engagement was one of the many positives of the event.  Whether speaking on behalf of organisations or in a personal capacity those in attendance were keen to relay their experiences and ideas on the issues raised.

The final speaker of the night was Ray Yates of Dublin City Council Arts Office.  For several years the Arts office has helped artists access previously unused spaces.  This scheme allowed artists to make a positive contribution to spaces across the city.  During his presentation, he spoke of his experiences with the scheme and how it has evolved since its launch.  More information on this inititive is avaiable on the Dublin City Council website


Ali Grehan, addressing the audience during City Limits 

Given the large turnout and level of engagement it was inevitable that all ideas raised could not be discussed in depth.  However, as she drew the night’s proceedings to a close, Ali Grehan recognised the public’s enthusiasm and appetite for dealing with this issue. 

A follow up event is planned to City Limits.  We’ll also shortly be advertising the site disposal of our Fishamble Street plot to kick start the final phase of the Dublin House Project.  If you would like to receive information about these events or the issues raised, please contact us at design@dublincity.ie