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ESB’S NEW HEAD OFFICE DEVELOPMENT GETS UNDERWAY

It was announced today that a new large Grade A office development comprising over 26,000 square metres of net lettable floor area in two distinct office blocks has commenced construction in Dublin’s prime Merrion Square area.

The Project will involve the retention and refurbishment of a number of protected Georgian structures and the construction of the two new seven storey office blocks designed by internationally acclaimed Grafton Architects, and O’Mahony Pike Architects.

The redevelopment of ESB’s site on Fitzwilliam Street Lower, which is effectively an entire city block, was given the green light by An Bord Pleanala in late 2015. PJ Hegarty’s were appointed as the main contractors in 2017 and have now cleared the site with excavations begun on basement construction. It is expected that over 500 jobs will be created during the construction which is due to be completed in spring 2020.

ESB will occupy one block for its new Head Office, “Fitzwilliam 27”, which will be approximately 13,500sq m and will house over 1300 staff. The adjacent block, “Fitzwilliam 28”, of approximately 12,500 sq m of prime Grade A sustainable space is to be offered to the market. Property Advisors, Savills and Bannon, have been appointed to secure a suitable tenant, or tenants, and will quote a rent of €619 psm (€57.50 per sq. ft.) based on a single tenancy.

Savills say opportunities for business development and talent acquisition are enhanced by the central location of Fitzwilliam 28. Dublin 2 enjoys the benefit of greater accessibility due to its pivotal position on the city’s transport grid which offers numerous public transport options via road, tram and rail.

Speaking this week, Chairman of Savills Ireland, Roland O’Connell and Lucy Connolly of Bannon commented, “There is simply no similar office development of this scale and flexibility available in the heart of the Georgian core and traditional CBD, close to all amenities and facilities, and certainly not with the sense of place and historic relevance this scheme exudes. With the understandable development constraints inherent in this area of architectural beauty and heritage it is unlikely we will see another new office scheme of this scale developed in this location again.”

Business World

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EYE TO THE FUTURE

At the recent BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition 2018, Eoin Sheridan, a 2nd year student from Gallen Community School, Co Offaly, won the BT Special Award for Research and Innovation in the Built Environment, presented by the Irish Architecture Foundation.

He also won second place in the Junior Individual Technology category with the same project, A solar thermal collector efficiency measurement device and analysis. Eoin designed a device which could measure the efficacy of domestic solar panels and an app that would enable users to monitor the performance of their solar panels from their phone.

As Eoin told the IAF: “I wanted to investigate the efficacy of the solar panels on our own home in Offaly. After testing with this device I am pleased to report they are as good as they were when they were installed fourteen years ago. I feel solar panels are not used as much as they should be and I hope my device will give people the confidence to use them more.”

It was notable that quite a number of high achieving projects at the BTYSTE took a look at the built environment through research or the invention of new tools and apparatuses. 1st year Cavan student Aimee Reilly established the positive effects of an awareness campaign on safe and correct use of the roundabouts in her local town, winning third place in the Junior Individual Social & Behavioural Sciences category, while Michael Lough of Scoil Mhuire gan Smal, Roscommon, came third in the Intermediate Individual Social & Behavioural Sciences category for his research into attitudes to public green space in rural Irish towns, focussing on use of parks in Longford Town.

Danielle Greasley and Jenny Seery spent a number of years measuring CO2 levels in the classrooms of their school, Athlone Community College, and established the effects high CO2 levels have on memory and retention among students, winning second place in the Intermediate Group Chemical, Physical & Mathematical Sciences category.

January/February Issue Plan Magazine

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POLITICIANS BACK PROPOSED BRIDGE LINKING SCOTLAND AND NORTHERN IRELAND

The Democratic Unionist Party has backed a crossing between Northern Ireland and Scotland, proposed in response to Boris Johnson’s suggestion to build a bridge between Britain and France.

A bridge across the Irish Sea was proposed by Scottish architect Alan Dunlop as a direct response to the “Boris Bridge” suggested by the UK’s foreign secretary, which would see a 22-mile-long crossing built between Britain and France after Brexit.

But while Johnson’s suggestion was largely met with ridicule by industry figures, Dunlop’s proposal is gaining momentum.

According to a report in The Times leading figures in the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which has a confidence and supply agreement with the Conservative party, are backing the proposal.

Sammy Wilson, a senior DUP MP told the Belfast News Letter, “People used to think the Channel Tunnel was pie in the sky. This idea of a fixed crossing has been derided as nonsense for years, but it is entirely feasible from a technical point of view.”

A second DUP spokesperson stated that a bridge across the Irish Sea could “act as a catalyst for developing further links between the two islands”.

Dunlop, founder of Alan Dunlop Architects and visiting professor of architecture at Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University, believes that a bridge between the two countries would cost between £15 – £20 billion and would help to create a “Celtic powerhouse”.

Scotland – Northern Ireland crossing would cost a fraction of Johnson’s bridge

According to Dunlop, the crossing between Scotland and Northern Ireland would cost much less than Johnson’s bridge between Britain and France and would also bring clear economic benefits to the two countries.

“I’m not against a bridge from England to France, it’s not an either/or response,” Dunlop told Dezeen. “A bridge crossing the English Channel, which is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, would be economically challenging. This is why I said it would cost less to move France closer, although I have no doubt it would be technically achievable.”

“A bridge between Scotland and Ireland is much more achievable”, he continued, “and it would redress the balance of money being spent by Westminster on London, East Coast transport and other projects.”

While Dunlop estimates that an English Channel bridge would cost £120 billion he believes that a bridge between the two Celtic countries could be built for considerably less.

He suggests a combined road and rail crossing, similar in design to the Øresund Bridge that connects Denmark and Sweden, could be built between Portpatrick, in Dumfries and Galloway, and Larne in Northern Ireland at a cost of £15 to £20 billion.

“The Oresund Straight bridge has brought huge economic and social benefits to Denmark and Sweden, creating a new economic region of almost 4 million people and generated £10 billion economic benefits to both countries,” said Dunlop. “Such a bridge could do the same for Scotland and Ireland, economically, culturally and socially and boost tourism.”

Although at 28 miles this crossing would actually be longer than the proposed bridge across the English Channel – technically, the bridge would present less of an engineering challenge according to Dunlop.

The main engineering challenge for the crossing would be Beaufort’s Dyke, a two-mile-wide, deep-sea trench off the Scottish coast. However, Dunlop believes that a design incorporating the emerging technology of floating bridges could carry the crossing over the dyke.

“It is the right time [to build a bridge across the Irish Sea] because we now have the technical capability to do it,” said Dunlop.

www.dezeen.com

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LIBERTIES TO RECEIVE €25M MAKEOVER ON FRANCIS STREET

An Bord Pleanála has given its approval to a major urban regeneration project on Francis Street in the heart of Dublin’s Liberties. The scheme, designed by Douglas Wallace Architects, will include a 260-bedroom aparthotel, restaurant units, a gymnasium, shop and a cultural theatre and performance arts venue.

The €25 million project will be promoted by Anthony Byrne, founder of the Tivoli Theatre. It will have an overall floor area of 10,000sq m (107,638sq ft). The design will be centred on a new civic square to be known as “Tivoli Square”, named after the existing theatre, which will be rebuilt as a modern performance and arts facility.

The new Tivoli will act as a catalyst for a number of new cultural activities. It is designed with an integral stage area that will allow for outdoor theatrical and cinematic performances similar to Meeting House Square in Temple Bar.

The aparthotel will be expected to provide a boost to tourism in the area, which is located on the emerging east-west tourist axis stretching from the Guinness Storehouse to Trinity College. The Bord Pleanála decision is expected to mark an important benchmark in the regeneration of Francis Street.

The promoters say the architecture of the scheme has been tailored to respect the unique character of the street, and will include the retention of the 19th-century brick facade at Nos 140-143.

Hugh Wallace, a director of Douglas Wallace, said there was a “simplicity and elegance to the architectural expression” that reflected theVictorian heritage of the area in terms of “rhythm, proportion, use of materials and, most importantly, the civic-minded approach to design”.

Damian Meehan of Douglas Wallace said their approach had centred on the creation of a new urban hub that would anchor the development and also act as a catalyst for change on Frances Street, “a forgotten gem in the historic heart of Dublin”.

Irish Times

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HOUSING PIONEER NEAVE BROWN DIES AGED 88

Acclaimed architect Neave Brown, a “pioneer of quality public housing”, has died following a battle with cancer.

Best known for the post-war housing he designed for north London, Brown is is the 2018 laureate of the RIBA Royal Gold Medal – an accolade he received in an unusually early ceremony in late 2017, due to his ill health.

RIBA president Ben Derbyshire was among the first to pay tribute to Brown, who passed away on 9 January 2018.

“The architecture community has lost a giant,” said Derbyshire. “Neave was a pioneer: he showed us how intellectual rigour, sensitive urbanism, his supreme design skill and determination could deliver well-being to the local community he served so well in Camden.”

“His ideas, for low-rise high-density housing with private outside space for all residents, still stand as a radical antidote to much of the unthinking, not to say degrading, housing product of the era. Neave’s contribution to architecture will not be forgotten.”

Brown was born in 1929 in Utica, New York, before moving to the UK as a teenager.

He studied at the Architectural Association in London, before taking up a post at Camden Council, where he designed his best known project – the Alexandra Road estate. The eight-storey housing scheme boasts a striking stepped formation, with an avenue running through its centre and elevated walkways above.

Other projects include a range of low-rise high-density housing schemes – one of which he and his wife Janet made home, the Dunboyne Road estate. He also designed housing projects in both the Netherlands and Italy.

Brown was revealed as the winner of the RIBA Royal Gold Medal at a time when the standard of social housing in the UK was very much in question, following the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire and the then-imminent demolition of Robin Hood Gardens.

In a recent interview with Dezeen, Brown said he was “astonished” to have received the award that many believed he deserved much earlier in his career.

“I am astonished that my work is alive and well in the history of architecture, and that young people look at it and come and visit it, and it is a very active ingredient in the background now,” he said.

“To me it had just become to my great sadness, simply a piece in the past. And I was, in that sense, dumbfounded and amazed when I heard that I had been put up for the Royal Gold Medal.”

Brown had been due to host a debate on social housing at the RIBA in London with The Guardian’s architecture critic, Oliver Wainwright, on 1 February 2018.

Wainwright today described Brown as a “feisty, fearless and a staunch defender of social housing until the end”. Architecture critic Catherine Slessor also paid tribute to Brown’s work, tweeting: “A life well lived.”

www.dezeen.com

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DUBLIN’S TALLEST OFFICE BUILDING?

The construction of Dublin’s tallest office building is to get under way in the coming weeks following the sale of its development site to a European investment fund.

A spokesman for European real estate investment specialists Tristan Capital Partners said yesterday that it had advised the European Property Investors Special Opportunities IV (EPISO 4) Fund on a deal to acquire the EXO development site at Point Square in the city’s north docklands from Nama-appointed receivers Stephen Tennant and Paul McCann of Grant Thorton.

 

The fund completed the transaction for the EXO site with local operating partners, SW3 Capital towards the end of last month, the spokesman said. The purchase represents the third investment by the fund and Sw3 Capital in the Dublin market. While no information was provided in relation to the price paid for the EXO site, it is understood that between €70m and €80m in development finance will be provided by the purchasers.

Some 350 jobs are expected to be created during the construction of the EXO, which upon completion will rise to 73m (239 ft) and comprise some 169,150 sq ft of Grade A office space, capable of accommodating 2,000 workers. The work by main contractors Bennett Construction is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2020. Agents Savills and CBRE have been instructed to secure pre-let agreements with tenants.

Irish Independent

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