RKD: The Birth of Irish Planning - Lecture by Brian Ward, Thursday 12 December, RIAI
Published: Monday, December 09, 2013
RKD: The Birth of Irish Planning - Brian Ward, DIT
It was not until 1911 that the new discipline of Town Planning attracted serious consideration in Dublin. In April of that year, Charles McCarthy, the City Architect, stated that the subject had not heretofore been uppermost in Irish minds. However, he was speaking after a lecture by Patrick Geddes about his ‘City and Town Planning Exhibition’ displayed twice in Dublin that year. Geddes’ presence in the city was part of Lord and Lady Aberdeen’s campaign to ‘stir up public feeling on this subject’. They were doing so within the context of a growing interest in civic affairs in Dublin which, with Home Rule seemingly imminent, was being re-imagined as a capital city once more. During a few months in 1914 Lady Aberdeen's efforts were particularly visible - in April an international Town Planning Competition for the city was announced, in July and August the Dublin Civic Exhibition drew large crowds, and in September Geddes and Raymond Unwin, the architect of Letchworth Garden City and Hampstead Garden Suburb, issued their joint report on housing to Dublin Corporation.
This lecture traces the birth of planning in Ireland over these years. It culminates in an examination of how, ultimately, it was not Home Rule, but the destruction of O'Connell Street during the Easter Rising which secured for the discipline a pertinence in the public mind. Pressure was applied on the Aberdeens to adjudicate on the Town Planning Competition which had been postponed due to the outbreak of World War I. Also a Reconstruction Committee, formed by Dublin Corporation and including Unwin, secured the right to limited controls on the height, design and materiality of the facades erected during the re-building of the street. The lecture sets the context for Keefe and Robinson's work on O'Connell Street in 1918 and 1919.
About Brian Ward
Brian Ward is a lecturer at the Dublin School of Architecture, DIT. Previously a practicing architect, he is currently conducting doctoral research on the town planning practices of CR Ashbee, John Nolen and Raymond Unwin in Dublin during 1914. It focuses on two divergent strands within their attempts to democratise the planning process - one committed to connecting with the wider public through publicity, the other through a theorisation of personal experience. Between 2005 and 2007 he was editor of building material, the journal of the Architectural Association of Ireland.