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SubUrban to SuperRural

Sub Super
Urban Rural
Shane OToole

Boyd Cody Architects
Bucholz | McEvoy Architects
dePaor architects
FKL architects
Henchion+Reuter Architects
MacGabhann Architects
ODOS architects
dominic stevens architect
Constantin Gurdgiev
Frank McDonald

SubUrban to SuperRural
Ireland at the Venice Biennale
10th International Architecture Exhibition
Published by Gandon Editions on the
occassion of Irelands participation at the
10th International Architecture Exhibition,
Venice Biennale. Commissioned by the Irish
Architecture Foundation and curated by
Michelle Fagan, Paul Kelly and Gary Lysaght
of FKL architects.

Shane OToole
for the Irish Architecture Foundation
Deputy Commissioner
Ciarn Gaora
Michelle Fagan, Paul Kelly and
Gary Lysaght, FKL architects
Boyd Cody Architects
Bucholz | McEvoy Architects
dePaor architects
FKL architects
Henchion+Reuter Architects
MacGabhann Architects
ODOS architects
dominic stevens architect
Contributing writers
Constantin Gurdgiev
Frank McDonald

SubUrban to SuperRural
Project co-ordination
Donncha O Shea, FKL architects
Exhibition design
FKL architects
Jennifer Keegan, Director/Producer
Ciaran Tanham, Cameraman
Paul Murnaghan, Editor
Paul Harrison, City Models
(except ElastiCity, made by
Andrew Ingham & Associates)

Presented by the Irish Architecture

Foundation under the auspices
of Culture Ireland, grant-aided by
The Arts Council and sponsored by
The Devey Group, with additional
support from the Royal Institute of
the Architects of Ireland and Tegral
and with the co-operation in Venice
of Nuova Icona.
Published on the occasion of the
10th International Architecture
Exhibition, Venice Biennale,
September 10 - November 19, 2006

First published in September 2006 in

an edition of 500 by Gandon Editions,
Oysterhaven, Kinsale, Co Cork, Ireland


Irish Architecture Foundation, 2006

All rights reserved. Texts and illusutrations copyright their individual
authors and owners. Design Zero-G



Casey ORourke Associates
Construction & installation
Oikos Builders Ltd
Italian translation
Elena Carlini
Public relations
Annette Nugent
Internet support
archeire Irish Architecture Online

Shane OToole/Ciarn Gaora

SubUrban to SuperRural

Michelle Fagan/Paul Kelly/Gary Lysaght/FKL architects

Learning land
tall house

Boyd Cody Architects

Bucholz | McEvoy Architects
dePaor architects

The road to God-knows-where

Frank McDonald


FKL architects
Henchion+Reuter Architects

An alternative vision of Ireland

Constantin Gurdgiev

Vertical sprawl

MacGabhann Architects
ODOS architects
dominic stevens architect


isbn 0-948037-37-7

Information design
Paul Keogan






Ros Kavanagh




Detached a lm by Jennifer Keegan

commissioned by FKL architects as
part of the SubUrban to SuperRural
installation in the Padiglione Italia,
Giardini di Castello, Venice.


Shane OToole and Ciarn Gaora

are Commissioner and Deputy
Commisioners of Irelands entry at
the Venice Biennale 10th International
Architecture Exhibition on behalf of
the Irish Architecture Foundation.

Make no little plans; they have

no magic to stir mens blood and probably
themselves will not be realized. Make big
plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once
recorded will never die, but long after we
are gone will be a living thing, asserting
itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going
to do things that would stagger us. Let your
watchword be order and your beacon beauty.
Think big.
daniel burnham,
Chicago architect (1864-1912)
A quarter of a century ago, Ireland was a
different placean introverted, monocultural society
and economic basket-case on the verge of a deep recession
that would lead to widespread emigration. There were no
faxes in 1980, no PCs, internet, mobile phones, CDs, lowcost airlines, dart or luas. On the other hand, before
our recent experiment in extreme suburbanisation, the
frustration of long-distance commuting by car through
miles of sprawl, with its debilitating effect on the social
lives of so many, was also unknown.
Today, ours is among the most globalised
and successful economies in the world, with an estimated
167 languages in daily use. Productivity growth in the
period 1995-2005 was nearly twice that of our nearest EU
competitor, Finland, and almost four times that of the
EU-15. 40% of our homes are less than 15 years old and
we are building new houses at ve times the rate of Italy,
six times that of Britain and seven times that of Germany.

The population has increased 50% in less than half a

century and will grow by more than a third again in the
next 25 years. But the future is hardly discussed here, let
alone planned for.
While continuing to celebrate the quality of
rugged individualism that makes us what we are, Irish
society must come to gripsnowwith the fact that
all our futures are bound up with one another. A new
disposition towards the land is urgently called for, one
that ditches the old urban-rural divide in favour of a
vision that treats our small island, town and countryside,
as an integrated entity. How is that to be agreed, let alone
A culture like ours, in which personal
freedom is privileged over social cohesion, may never
have much use for visions of utopia but the rst Venice
Biennale devoted to Cities, architecture and society is a
global call to take stock as the world enters the urban era
when, for the rst time in history, more people than not
live in citiesand a reminder that societies need to be
self-aware. This is precisely what we are not. We choose
leaders who tell us what we want to hear and enable us to
carry on although we suspect the road leads to ruin.
What might an alternative Ireland look like
in 2030? Architects are not soothsayers, but somebody
needs to ll the visionary vacuum and illustrate some of
the characteristics of success that should mark our society
a generation hence. Nine architects of the generation
who will shape that Ireland have prepared a series of
projects and scenarios, curated by FKL architects, that
offer different glimpses of what might be. Scenarios are
not predictions, however. They are stories built around
methodically constructed plots; their importance lies
in the conversations they spark and the decisions they
Let the debate begin.





Michelle Fagan, Paul Kelly and

Gary Lysaght are directors of
FKL architects and curators of
Irelands entry at the Venice Biennale
10th International Architecture

1 Immigration Council of Ireland:

Background information and statistics on
immigration to Ireland. June 2005
2 IDA: Website of the Irish Industrial
Development Authority 2006

to SuperRural
Michelle Fagan
Paul Kelly
Gary Lysaght
FKL architects

3 Data courtesy Marc Imhoff of NASA GSFC

and Christopher Elvidge of NOAA NGDC.
Image by Craig Mayhew and Robert Simmon,

the sprawl surrounding our urban centers is

driven by Irelands obsession with the car and an innate
desire to live on the land. A mono-functional organism,
the simplicity of sprawl has become a universal solution
to housing throughout the islanda uniquely successful product of our national psyche and the free market,
reinforced by a lack of infrastructure, co-ordinated planning, regulation and political will.
The absence of any alternative development models or expectations presents the freedom to reimagine this condition at a time of immense change and
evolution within Irish society. According to Eurostat,
Ireland has the sixth lowest population density in the
EU but this is projected to increase by 25% in the next 25
years1, creating an obligation to propose new models for
development that will be environmentally, socially and
culturally sustainable.
Accepting our current reality of road-based
infrastructure and the widespread desire to live in lowdensity housing, the challenge facing Ireland is how to
evolve new living conditions that are not a sub-genre of
the urban but rather a hybrid of the best aspects of both
rural and urbana super-rural condition. It will require
both an attitude that values land for its intrinsic qualities
and not simply as a location for housing and an inversion
of the fundamentally negative paradigm of less-thanurban to an essentially positive one of more-than-rural.
In curating Irelands participation in the
Venice Biennale 2006 we sought to take on this challenge by asking our generation of Irish architects to test
this paradigm shift through the formulation of specic
projects and scenarios that would illuminate a vision
of how the SubUrban might evolve into the SuperRural
between now and 2030.

This image of Earths city lights was created

with data from the Defense Meteorological
Satellite Program (DMSP) Operational
Linescan System (OLS). Originally designed
to view clouds by moonlight, the OLS is also
used to map the locations of permanent
lights on the Earths surface.

4 OECD: Organisation for Economic

Co-operation and Development

The worlds most globalised economy

Ireland is now the most globalised economy in the world,
a situation that places it scally, if not geographically,
closer to Boston than Berlin. With an economy focused
on high-end, high-tech manufacturing and services provision, it is the largest exporter of software in the world.2
OECD gures show that the economy has enjoyed the

Earths City Lights (Detail)3

highest growth rates in the EU for most of the last decade.4

This unprecedented economic success is drawing up
to 70,000 immigrants annually to the country, which is
altering our understanding of what it means to be Irish
and has given Ireland the fastest growing population in
Europe. Immigration is driving population increase and
accelerating the urbanisation of the country. Ireland has
some catching up to do as we have a relatively low urban
population. We became a predominantly urbanized
society only within the last generation. The economic
boom appears to be sustained by the building industry
providing housing for the growing population and on
factors that are substantially outside our controllow
interest rates set in Frankfurt and the presence of multinationals attracted by low corporation tax rates.


5 SEI: Sustainable Energy Ireland. Morgan

Bazillian, Fergal OLeary, Brian Gallachir
and Martin Howley: Security of Supply
Metrics. 2006
6 SEI: Sustainable Energy Ireland. Fergal
OLeary, Martin Howley and Brian
Gallachir: Residential ReportEnergy in
Ireland, 1990-2004. 2005


7 NRA: National Roads Authority Website

8 SEI: Residential Report
9 SEI: Security of Supply Metrics

10 SEI: Residential Report: There was a

remarkable increase in dwelling completions
over the period 1990 to 2004, from 19,139
completions in 1990 to 76,954 completions
in 2004, an increase of 300%. The gure
of 76,954 was also the highest over the
period and represented a 12% increase on
completions in 2003. According to the
Central Statistics Ofce, a record 86,200
dwellings were completed in 2005.

11 Eurostat: Statistical Ofce of the

European Commission. Social Portrait
of Europe.
12 CSO: Central Statistics Ofce preliminary
results of Census 2006
13 NRA: Transport policy Roads... account
for 96% of passengers and 93% of freight

The price of this rapid economic success

is that Ireland has become the fth most oil-dependent
country in the EUninth in the worldwhich, given that
we are barely industrialised, highlights the lack of natural
resources on the island and emphasises our high per
capita energy use.5 Small indigenous reserves of gas and
peat are both likely to be spent by 2030, further increasing
our dependence on imported energy. Although Irelands
CO2 emissions (climate corrected) per dwelling were 97%
above the EU-15 average in 2003, most of Irelands production of greenhouse gasses comes from transport.6
Not such a surprise when the vast majority of goods and
passengers are transported by road.7 Transport is by far
our largest energy user, running well ahead of electricity
production, home heating and industry, with agriculture
barely registering.8 On the other hand, Irelands temperate climate and position on the western edge of Europe,
facing the Atlantic, give us the best potential for wind,
wave and biomass exploitation in the EU.9 Yet to date
only 2.2% of our energy comes from renewables, a situation which is gradually changing as the government has
brought in limited tax relief for domestic use of alternative energy. Rising oil prices are placing the issue of fuel
and food security at the top of the agenda and they are
now being seen as serious issues in considering the longterm success of our economy.

the family home to buy their

own. Whereas the incoming
population is heading for
town, the indigenous Irish are
heading for the suburbs. Even
though the urban population
is technically increasing, the
population in many urban
centers is actually dropping12
as suburban sprawl continues
to soak up this urban population, expanding in a self-sustaining ring with diminishing reference or contact with
the centre it notionally surrounds. The reality for many
so-called city dwellers is that
they are as car dependent as their rural neighbors. They
are probably just as likely as a rural dweller to get in the
car to go to work or the shops or to drop the children off
at school. Both are just as likely to be dependent on the
local petrol station for their basic needs and out-of-town
shopping centers for retail therapy. Consequently, trafc
congestion in and around the major urban centres is
endemic and it can often be quicker to commute from
50km away than to travel across town.

Housing boom
Almost half of all dwellings in Ireland have been planned
and delivered by the private sector since 1990. The majority of dwellings, 82% and growing, are either owned
outright or are in the process of being purchased (mortgaged).10 95% of the population lived in an individual
house in 1998, compared to an EU-15 average of only
53%.11 Our new-found wealth has been driving a housing
boom to accommodate not just the annual inux of
foreign nationals but also afuent young Irish leaving

Irelands sprawling towns and cities are tied together
by an ever-expanding road network while the railway
network is under-funded and neglected.13 There is an
unprecedented road-building programme underway,
which will quadruple the length of motorways and dual
carriageways by 2015. By contrast, the length of rail track
is less than it was a century ago and apart from recent
light rail in Dublin and the objective to reopen 70km of
disused track, there is no new rail on the cards.14 2006 will

14 NDP: Transport 21
15 CIA: World Fact Book, Ireland,
Geography Note

16 Department of Agriculture and Food

website: 80% of the agricultural area is
devoted to grass Beef and milk production
currently account for 58% of total
agricultural output at producer prices The
total number of farms was 141,500 in 2000,
down from 223,400 in 1980. The average
farm size was 31.4 hectares.

see the rst hourly intercity

service between the countrys
two largest citiesDublin,
with a population 1.1 million,
and Cork, with a population of 0.25 millionwhich,
by increasing capacity, will
open up points in between for
further development. 40% of
the population already lives
within 100km of Dublin,15
underlining its economic
and political dominance.
The Greater Dublin Area has
become a commuter zone
stretching halfway across the
country, threatening to join
with the sprawl generated by Cork, Galway and Limerick
to form one continuous super-sprawl condition on
the island. Sprawl creates dormitory accommodation,
deserted during the week as the daily exodus starts earlier
and ends later to avoid the chronic trafc congestion.
Suburban sprawl has become the enemy of
both town and country, draining the life from one and
expanding relentlessly over the other, while choking
both with cars tracing the daily triangle of home, school,
work, and back again. It expands relentlessly at very lowdensity, squandering formerly productive agricultural
land, stretching services and infrastructure to uneconomic levels and eroding the social fabric of rural life. The
line between urban and rural is blurring, robbing both of
their essential character. Urban-generated populations
live in suburban enclaves stitched on to towns and villages, generating a new cash crop sites for housesas
manicured lawns fast replace farmed land.16 Meanwhile,
the urban cores become heritage-themed retail experiences for tourists and visitors.

17 SEI: Residential Report

The Irish Dream

The logic of applying higher densities to urban areas is
well understood and accepted, but it has failed to solve
the issue of increasing demand for residential accommodation in Ireland over the last 15 years. Ultimately,
higher urban densities will only solve part of the housing
problem, as long as the primary demand is for houses
and the design of viable family apartments is paid mere
lip service by developers or regarded as a hopeful aspiration by planners. In parallel with the decline in urban
as opposed to suburbanpopulations, the rural population has been steadily dropping, in this case since the
mid-19th century when it was decimated by famine. The
trend is accelerating in most areas, accompanied by a
decline in agricultural employment. Planning policy prevents people without local employment or a family connection from living in many areas of the country. Even so,
a signicant proportionup to 33%of dwellings are
built in open countryside each year17, evidence of robust
rural entrepreneurship. Encouraged by government
tax incentives, many new dwellings, particularly along
the coast, have been built as tourist accommodation or
second homes, however, and remain vacant for most of
the year.
Solutions have not been forthcoming from
politicians, planners or architects and the debate has
become polarized: build nothing outside the urban centres
or let people build what they want, where they want.
Neither attitude seems to hold the answer and both are
likely to perpetuate the current unsatisfactory situation.
The decline in agricultural incomes and
the seeming ability to turn any half-acre into a housing
site has led to a rash of dormer bungalows sitting in
barely landscaped elds with elusive privacy provided
by distance from neighbors. This, ultimately, is the Irish
Dream. But not everyone is lucky enough to be able to
afford such rural isolation, particularly if work is two


hours away by car. The imperative of proximity to urban

centers produces a version of the dream in low-density,
low-rise semi detached developments sprawling across
the elds around every town and village within striking
distance of a city.
The paradigm shift
For proposed new settlement patterns to be credible, they
must be socially, environmentally and culturally sustainable, valuing the land for its intrinsic qualities and not
just as a site for the construction of housing, satisfying
the desire to live on the land without degrading the visual
amenity of the countryside at a time when tourism is of
growing importance to the economy. They must engage
with the existing patterns of the urban or rural landscape,
becoming part of it and not just in it or on it.


15 years ago when Group 91 were looking to address the

issues of the day, the creation of viable models for urban
living was uppermost in their minds. That argument has
largely been won, even if consistent implementation is
still some way off. Within the generation that has seen
Ireland become a predominantly urban society, the pressures of urban life have prompted a desire for privacy
and freedom, expressed as a compulsion to drive cars
and live in houses with off-street parking and front and
back gardens. Consequently, the challenge for this generation of architects has become more complex. Perhaps
giving people what they want can be an impetus for new
settlement patterns in Ireland? Why not suspend the
current unsatisfactory model of urban/suburban/subrural/rural in favour of one that offers alternatives to
suburban sprawl by favouring a more focused pattern of
super-urban and super-rural? One in which the focus
on suburban sprawl to square the circle of a widespread
desire to live on the land within commuting distance of
work in town is shifted to a more sustainable model that
provides alternatives, that breaks the cycle of commuting and enshrines a life/work balance where there is time
and space for recreation, universal access to nature and
the potential for self-sufciency. A future, achievable
within a single generation, where there is a radical shift
from Suburban to SuperRural.



Boyd Cody Architects

From Terra Incognita to Terra Firma: The contemporary rural landscape can no longer be represented by a concept of the
whole, posited as a natural, cohesive and at times, sublime counterpoint to expanding nodes of urban conurbation.
It is instead perhaps more clearly dened as a complex, fragmented, cultural and productive territory that bears
the marks and legacy of continuous occupation. This primarily agricultural landscape is also increasingly a witness
to the ruthless, disciplined and efcient surface organisation of contemporary economic and social culture in the
form of suburbanisation, excavation, quarrying, harvesting, road building, drainage, intensive farming, forestry
and related land management practices. It is by these means that we constantly re-order and re-cast the landscape
around us into a network of surfaces and lines not unlike those operating in our cities. These applied strata are in turn
re-territorialised by a mosaic of tangible and intangible boundaries, of incidental surfaces and lines operating above
and below the ground, in the form of voids, topographical aberrations, geological formations, archaeology, memory.
The resulting seams, edges and margins, often straddling zones of difference, are possible sites of architectural
intervention, capable of establishing and re-forging a new connectivity and continuity through the intensication of
interaction between landscape and settlement. the boora complex: The Boora Complex is such a margin, albeit
operating at both a geographical and territorial scale. A necklace of raised bogs, a vast peatland world, it straddles
the central plain of Ireland between the river Liffey and the Shannon. The organised harvesting of the bog for the
production of energy by Bord na Mna, 80% of which occurs within the raised bogs of the central midlands, rests
alongside the building of the hydro-electric power station at Ardnacrusha in the mid-1920s as one of the emblematic
constructs that heralded the arrival of the modern project in Ireland. This landscape has, therefore, played a constant
and determining role in our re-imagining of the interdependent and symbiotic relationship that exists between
urban and rural, and as such, is a suitable site for interpreting a new super-rural condition. Today it continues to
provide 49% of our indigenous energy requirements, as well as the raw material for horticulture in the form of peat
and peat-based products. It has established an unrivalled infrastructure network of roads, canals, industrial railways,
power stations and small settlements co-existing alongside an extraordinary diverse wetland habitat and ecology.
the future: The bog will, over the course of the next thirty years, come to the end of its productive life and the
future potential of this expansive, open territory must be considered, as little value can now be derived from turning
it to grassland. Like a great tabula rasa, this emerging post-productive terrain stretches out over some 80,000 hectares
of cutaway bog. The potential exists to construct a new productive landscape, capable of supporting a self-sustaining
and self-sufcient community of small settlements, co-opting and adapting extensive existing infrastructure in
pursuit of the most prized commodities of our timeenergy and food. An organisation that is established in an
integrated and environmentally stable manner preserves and builds upon existing biodiversity while providing a new
vision for super-rural living, in what could be considered a new county.

Dermot Boyd
Peter Cody
James Rossa OHare




The proposed new population of 64,000 established across the Boora Complexwould make it
the 16th most populous county in the Republic of Ireland and the 22nd in terms of land area.



Bog before and during peat extraction

16% of the land area of Ireland is bog

Total area of bog: 1,340,000 hectares

11.3% blanket bog: 940,000hectares

3.7% raised bog: 306,000 hectares

1.0% fen: 94,000 hectares

80,000 hectares of post-production land by 2030


The state-ownedcompany Bord na Mna owns 7% of

Irelands peatlands.
After it has completed peat extraction

in 2030, up to 80,000 hectares will become cutaway

or depleted bog,creating the opportunity for a new

landscape dedicated
to the production of renewable

the production of various forms of

energy, through

biomass complemented
by wind power and protected food

production to offset imports.

projected population increase

Extraction to consumption

16% of the land area of Ireland is covered in both blanket
and raised bog, covering an area totalling approximately
1,340,000 hectares. The raised bogs of the central
midlands represent 80% of all commercially harvested
bog, with 14.5 million cubic metres of milled peat being
extracted annually for the nite production of energy
through the burning of peat as a fossil fuel.
While Ireland imports 86% of its total energy
requirements, 49% of the energy that we generate
ourselves comes from burning peat in the thermal power
plants located around the central midlands. In accordance
with the Kyoto Protocol, 13.2% of Irelands energy must
come from renewable sources by 2010; currently only 6%
of energy is derived from renewables. We also maintain
only 237 hectares of protected horticulture, importing
a total of 600 million of edible horticulture and 70%
of all organic produce annually. This is primarily due to
our dependency on expensive energy sources, rendering
the maintenance of extensive greenhouse structures
prohibitively expensive and economically unviable.

Irelands renewable
energy commitment (Kyoto Protocol)



By 2030, the vast, open wetland territory of Irelands
Boora Complex will be ready for re-use. This nascent
landscape offers an unrivalled opportunity to re-imagine
and recongure our relationship with the land, without
address to established patterns of exploitation or
occupation. The proposal explores the possibility of a new
symbiotic relationship for super-rural communities forged
in tandem with a productive landscape. It is a relationship
that successfully exploits the remnants of an inherited
industrial infrastructure with human enterprise, in an
emerging terrain dedicated to the production of both
food and energy.

From post-production to productive landscape

Boora Complex, existing infrastructure: 4 thermal power plants, 4

fuel processing plants, Royal and Grand canals, N52 and N62 national
roads, 3 intercity rail-lines, 1,365km of industrial narrow-gauge rail.

Availability of post-production
bog (Bord na Mna)

Migration to urban areas 2006

Migration to the land 2030

100-hectare grid + 1-hectare storehouses

Area of protected
horticulture production

Population: 1,200,000
Population: 0 (2006)

Area Dublin Region: 92,100 ha

Area Boora Complex: 95,000 ha

The entire landscape is to be divided along the lines of
a 100-hectare grid, creating viable entities, each of which
will incorporate an individually diverse pattern of land use.
Each entity is in turn provided with a production facility,
or storehouse, to manage bio-culture, silvi-culture and
horticulture. The resultant biomass is used to generate
energy from existing thermal power plants, displacing
the current non renewable source of extracted milled peat.



Mosaic of new land uses

Emerging Terrain
The vast areas of cutaway bog that remain under
single state ownership offer the opportunity for the
planning and organisation of this new region as a whole.
As cutaway bogs result in a complex environment, they
naturally lend themselves to a mosaic of land-uses
determined by varying ground conditions such as peat
type and depth, sub-peat mineral soil, drainage, hydrology
and the geological sub-stratum.

Cutaway peatland

Land ready for re-use

Protected horticulture will increase from 300 hectares

to 3,600, an increase of 1,200%
By 2010, 13.2% of Irelands energy needs must come
from renewable sources
Geological substratum

The land will be divided into diverse holdings combining
varying areas of wetland, forestry, windfarms,
horticulture, grassland, bio-culture and infrastructure,
while associated non-productive conservation areas
will be linked by natural ecology corridors, to form a
networked land-bank large enough to be considered a
wilderness park.












Wind farms

Boora Complex land use 2030



Ground oor plan

Storehouse and generated landscape

Landscape in transition 2006-2030

Storehouse & generated landscape

It is proposed to build 800 storehouses across the Boora
Complex, along established lines of communication. Each
house has a footprint of 1 hectare and a related hinterland
of 100 hectares.

Each storehouse is formed from 20 x 1,200m2 plots set

over three levels, each of which can accommodate two
dwellings and the associated storage and production
facilities for bio-culture, silviculture and horticulture,
creating a community of some 80 people.

The storehouses are connected by the existing rail

infrastructure and into the electricity grid, allowing for
the efcient transfer of energy and residual heat between
power plant and storehouse.

The resultant combination of residual heat and energy,

an abundant natural water supply and prepared peat soils
and horticultural products makes for an ideal environment
for the production of food. In all 64,000 people would be
evenly distributed across this emerging landscape.

Section through storehouse



Ground Floor Level Production/Storage

Section through storehouse

If we were to remove all our existing urban settlements,

the entire predicted future population of Ireland could
live at storehouse density in 2030 while building on only
1% of the available land area. Based on this proposal,
through the creation of 69,702 holdings, Ireland could
sustain a population of 5.6 million.

Ground Floor Level Residential/Glass-House

Ground Floor Level Production/Storage

Second Floor Level Residential

Second Floor Level Residential

Area of Republic of Ireland =

6,970,200 / 100 =
80 people per storhouse 69,702 x 80 =

Third Floor Level Residential

6,970,200 hectares
69,702 holdings
5,576,160 people



Bucholz | McEvoy Architects

Learning land: Land parcels currently in declining agricultural use can be intensied for collective/educational uses,
creating new placesnew foci for public life and communities in the evolving condition that exists between the
traditional polarities of urban and rural life. Old schoolhouses are retained in civic usage to act as catalysts for other
collective uses, offering society an opportunity to reconnect and re-engage with the land as a rich learning tool.
Retaining existing eld boundaries as pathways in a new slower means of traversing the land renders the previously
inaccessible accessible. Could the landscape become a positive structuring and generative tool supporting this
emerging condition of life-long learning produced by the knowledge economy? Why suggest something fantastic
when the land and the society it supports are already undergoing dramatic transformation?

Merritt Bucholz
Ralf Kampe
Karen McEvoy


23 90 50
Percentage of Irish farmers who farm part-time


Percentage decline in the number of Irish farms between 2002 and 2005


Percentage of the population residing

within 40km of a large urban centre

Kilometres commuting daily by more

than 26% of the Irish workforce


The projected number of full-time commercial farmers in Ireland in 2020. Todays gure is 40,000


This is a map of the middle of IrelandCo. Offaly, Laois,

Galway, Roscommon, Tipperary, and Westmeath. The dots
indicate the location of primary schools built following
the educational reforms of the 19th century. The grid
is formed by the rule that schools be no further than
2.5 miles from any dwelling. This simple decision made
education accessible to all, and reinforced a density of
land occupation, with schools and houses distributed
evenly across the landscape. Movement across the
landscape was by foot. The pattern of occupation
and density of land use did not alter signicantly
until recently, when the 2006 census showed that the
population of Ireland had risen to its highest level since
1861. The lives people lead here today are every bit as
urban as those of city dwellers. The distinction between
urban and rural is fading away. Can this educational
grid be harnessedreactivated incrementally and
extended into parts of the surrounding post-agricultural
landscapeonce more, to become a key ingredient in
Irelands 21st century knowledge economy?




Countryside typically found next to schools

Dispersed occupation of the landscape was underpinned by the Irish

constitution and the land reforms introduced following independence in
1922. From the 1930s to the 1960s, land ownership of estates and large
farms in mid-Leinster was reassigned in small parcels to migrant farmers
from the West, creating thousands of small privately owned landscapes,
typically 8-12ha in size.

New network of villages

new network of villages
gathered around schools/education centres
eld spaces

What will become of the post-agricultural landscape?

The landscape of Ireland has been re-worked,
re-structured and transformed over the centuries,
superimposed with layers of patterns and imprints
of cultural and socio-economic formations as they have
changed and evolved over time. The rural economy is no
longer geographically seperate from the urban; both are
part of the same space. All but 10% of the population
lives within 40km of the countrys 13 largest urban
centres. By 2025 there will be fewer than 10,000 fulltime farmers and fewer than 30,000 part-time farmers.
More and more part-farmers work in towns. But others
already spend their days in the countryside working from
home in the knowledge economy. Education has always
been valued outside urban areas. Schools are one of the
few public buildings ubiquitous in the landscape, often
marking the only piece of land owned by the community.
Can Ireland build on this to remain competitive as a
society? And what if instead of redundant agricultural
land being consumed for residential and commercial uses,
it were brought in to collective/public use?

Persons travelling 50km to work

Yellow low, blue high

Education ceased before 3rd level

Yellow low, Blue high

AgriVision 2025. Rural Ireland 2025Foresight Perspectives. NUI Maynooth/UCD/Teagasc. 2005.



Why travel? Right here is fantastic!

In recent decades, depopulation of rural areas and
abandonment of productive agricultural land, combined
with the deterioration of socio-economic services in rural
areas, has produced declining peripheral areas which are
now juxtaposed with relentlessly expanding cities and
towns and their associated transportation corridors. Can
we imagine an Irish super-rural economy in 2030 where
daily dependence on the car is almost a thing of the past?
Can we imagine our society transformedinto one that
trades globally on the knowledge it createsbut where
people can and do continue to live in the countryside, in a
landscape that increasingly offers many of the traditional
attractions of a city but without the disadvantages?

Field space study 1

organisation around a
space-eld-space transport

Field space study 2

Field space study 3

new plan around a eld-space hedge-space
current planlinear along road
connectionslinks at slow speed


Slowing down
Our fast, car-based infrastructure has improved mobility
but also increased the disconnection between home,
school, work and social life. The speed at which we
move across the landscape is the speed of the car; on
the road, we lose contact with the land. Almost half of
country dwellers no longer have direct contact with the
land. Development in the landscapewhether a housing
estate or a new roaderases all traces of what was there
before. Everything is cut. A learning landscape would
not forget the local eld patterns, hedges and boundaries.
Why cant those eld boundaries, with their rich microenvironments contributing to rural biodiversity, be
retained and developed as new pathways to traverse the
learning landscape? Creating a slow, safe infrastructure
for walking, cycling, skating, roller-blading, scooting,
skate-boarding, heelying... crossing the elds lightly,
bringing people together informally, building community.


Moving slowly through the landscape



The learning landscape

Still crouching neath the sheltering hedge,
Or stretched on mountain fern,
The teacher and his pupils met feloniously to learn.
John OHagan (18221850) evoking the 18th century
underground Irish educational movement known as Hedge Schools



dePaor architects

tall-house: Currently 1,600,000 people live outside urban settlements in the Republic of Ireland. In 2030 there will
be another 1,000,000 transient rural dwellers, mostly commuters. The countryside cannot absorb further random
landtake. Surrogate typologies will develop.

T. dePaor
A. Hofheinz



A wall in itself is a ne thing, if the proportions are right. J. Beuys in a memorandum

dated August 7, 1964, following the press release 1964: Beuys recommends that the Berlin
Wall be heightened by 5cm (better proportions!) (H. Stachelhaus, p. 132)



Further random landtake

UGH happens on existing road and power networks on the basis of development plan road-frontage requirements, which in turn is a
planning extrapolation of British Standard trafc sight-line regulations. Essentially orderless, this suburbanism is described as either
cluster, ribbon or one-off development of variations on a basic house type. The Department of the Environments National Spatial
Strategy recognises UGH landuse as unsustainable.
169 m2 footprint

[A planning paper published by the Department (of Environment) in August 2001, in the context of preparing the National Spatial
Strategy,] found urban-generated housing generally unsustainable because of the energy it consumes, the trafc it generates, and
the pressure it puts on water supplies [The paper] noted that the number of planning applications for rural housing went up between
20% and 70% in the period 1997-99, depending on the county. (F. McDonald / J. Nix, p. 112)

Glenelg.UGH (P. Lawlor, 2005)

1,000,000 transient rural dwellers

At current rates of output, up to half of a million new one-off houses are expected on Irelands landscape over the next 25 years. A
further 250,000 acres of landscape will therefore be lost to so-called Urban Generated Housing (UGH) in areas outside the limits of
any incorporated or unincorporated city, town, village or any other designated residential or commercial area such as a subdivision,
a business or shopping centre or community development by 2030. (countryside as dened by the European Environment Agency,
http://glossary.eea. While UGH is occupied by either commuters or holiday makers, both
groups of rural dwellers are transient, frequenting the landscape rather than inhabiting it.

N6.UGH (A. Hofheinz, 2006)

The vast majority of planning applications made in rural areas are urban-generated one-off houses. In 2003, they accounted for 65%
of all housing in Mayo, 68% in Wexford, and some 70% in Galway. On average, 85% of all planning applications for one-off houses
are granted (F. McDonald / J. Nix, p.113)
Although the National Spatial Strategy and the county development plans acknowledge the situation, the number of new one-off
houses has not signicantly decreased.

New built bungalows and detached

houses in rural areas*

N6.UGH (A. Hofheinz, 2006)

*Figures: Annual Housing Statistics Bulletin,

Department of Environment


Rural building stock 2002**

4,000,000 population
Of these, one-offs: 82.4%

1,280,000 units
497,000 units
409,000 units

Projected new bungalows & detached houses in rural areas, 2006 -2030
5,800,000 population**
Average annual output:
Say 20,000
20,000 x 25 years =
**Figures: CSO Ireland

Gaora House, Co. Galway (T. dePaor, 2006)



Such houses are one/two story assemblies from offthe-shelf domestic pattern books. Development plans
for each of the counties specify the minimum plot size
to be a half acre or 2,000m2 with a minimum site road
frontage of 30 linear metres. 500,000 projected oneoff houses imply 15,000km of ribbon development.


Ath Luan
Ath Luain


N6, the national road between Dublin and Galway is

217km long. The total length of Irish coast is 3,172km.
This future development is therefore 70 times the
N6.UGH (A. Hofheinz, 2006)
length of the N6, approximately four times that of
the periphery of the island and the equivalent of 280 hours of continuous drive-by suburbia.
It is imagined that the planning and development regulations of 2001, Schedule 2 Part 1, are amended to allow only domestic development as extension upward or downward on non-urban lands. No horizontal expansion and no new build. The built footprint of all UGH
is therefore ringfenced in 2006, and no further rural landtake permissible. The rural silhouette morphs as the existing UGH mutates
and the urban contour focuses. However, the spatial and structural limits of the existing type become exhausted and with land value
increase, demolition and reconstruction on the existing footprint is soon inevitable.
Surrogate typologies
The lifestyle of UGH is not threatened, the programme well established. There are four seats in a car, one front door in an elevation
and there are four elevations. Four transient dweller groups (families) settle in one house. The density on the half acre plot is therefore quadrupled on the same footprint.
The new construction is tall.

The tower-house
A statute enacted by Henry VI in 1429 declared that it is agreed and asserted that every liege-man of our Lord the King of the said
counties who chooses to build a castle or tower sufciently embattled or fortied within the next ten years, to wit twenty feet in
length, sixteen feet in width and forty feet in height or more, that the Commons of the said counties shall pay to the said person to
build the said castle or tower ten pounds by way of subsidy. (H.G. Leask, p. 76)
Tower-houses, as dened by Leask, are square or rectangular towers (occasionally equipped with side turrets), normally with a vault
over at least one oor, usually the ground oor, and with the upper oors marked by better windows, replaces, etc; entry was usually through a door on the ground oor. (T. McNeill, p. 201)
The towers provided different levels of accommodation: the small towers had effectively only one room on each oor, with stairs and
latrine taking up the rest of the available space. (T. McNeill, p. 222)
And may these characters remain / When all is ruin once again. (W.B. Yeats inscription for Thoor Ballylee, Co. Galway)
The tower house is common in the Irish landscape.

Nenagh, Co. Tipperary (P. Lawlor, 2006)

Derryhivenny, Co. Galway (D. Sweetman 1999, p. 149)

Rockeet, Co. Mayo (D. Sweetman 1999, p. 149)

Clara, Co. Kilkenny (D. Sweetman, p. 147)

Clara, Co. Kilkenny (redrawn plans / section)

Central Statistics Ofce Ireland, current statistics and projections,
div. County Councils, current County Development Plans and Rural Housing
Guidelines, available from the counties webpages, e.g.
Department of the Environment, National Spatial Strategy 2002-2020, 2002
Government of Ireland, Census 2002 Principal Socio-Economic Results,
Stationary Ofce, Dublin 2003
J.R. Kenyon / K. OConor, The Medieval Castle in Ireland and Wales, Four Courts
Press, Dublin 2003
H. G. Leask, Irish Castles and Castellated Houses, Dundalgan Press,
Dundalk 1964
F. McDonald / J. Nix, Chaos at the Crossroads, Gandon Books, Kinsale 2005
T. McNeill, Castles in Ireland, Routledge, London 1997
D. Sweetman, The Medieval Castles of Ireland,
The Collins Press, Cork, 1999




Tall-houses are erected on the footprint of

earlier UGH, the half-acre plot held in common.
They are predictably within a half-hour drive
from urban settlements, off national routes
in the sub-rural hinterlands or in positions of
high scenic amenity. Their specic location is
dictated by local market economics. They wish
to be self-sufcient in terms of services and
make use of passive and active energy collection, rainwater recycling and so on. They have a
communal kitchen garden, composting, garden

Ground oorcommunal (crche, day care etc.)/169m footprint


First ooropen porch, entrance door to dwelling unit

Second oorbedroom 1 with ensuite and built-in storage

shed and a lawn within a walled, gated or nonindigenous hedge enclosure. They often have a
name as address.
Occupants share with their neighbours a
carpool and a crche or day-care (depending on
the age prole). Sometimes the tall-houses are
used as guest houses where previous planning
uses allow.
Each of the four dwellings in one tall-house
has own-door access from a driveway/carport,
with covered porch, open plan kitchen/dining, a
living room with replace, a patio with outdoor
cooking facilities, three bedrooms with ensuite
bathrooms, built-in storage and a lift. These

Third oorbedroom 2 with ensuite and built-in storage

Fourth oorbedroom 3 with ensuite and built-in storage

Fifth ooropen-plan kitchen/dining area with guest WC

domestic spaces rotate so that each dweller

group enjoys each orientation and view variously. Each occupant is sufciently unaware of his
neighbours. A mural stairs leads down into the

Sixth oorliving room with replace

Seventh oorpatio with barbeque


(scale 1:250)




Section through poch

Bedroom 3

Living room


Section through domestic spaces



tall-house on site of Gaora house

UGH location criteria (typical county development plan 2005 2011)

Site curtilage
Road frontage
Building lines

minimum 0.2 hectares (0.5 acres)

minimum 30 metres
County Roads and Regional Roads 20 metres
Entrance gates shall be recessed 4.5 metres behind the line of roadside hedgerow with side boundaries
splayed at an angle of 45 degrees to the public road carriageway. Opportunities for shared use of access
or combining access points should be availed of.



Frank McDonald is Environment

Editor of The Irish Times, author of
The Destruction of Dublin, Saving the
City and The Construction of Dublin,
and joint author with James Nix of
Chaos at the Crossroads.

received images of Dublin, and of Ireland, in the

international public consciousness are of a graceful
Georgian city and a country replete with wild, beautiful
landscapes. Among architects abroad, Dublins recent
success in pursuing an urban renewal agenda would
also be known from the many awards for projects such
as Temple Bar. There would also be a general awareness
of the remarkable transformation of Irelands economy
over the past decade by the Celtic Tiger boom, which
has turned usmuch to our own amazementinto the
second wealthiest country in the world (measured on a
per capita basis).
Nothing more graphically illustrates this
metamorphosis than the gures for migration. During
the bleak years of the 1980s, 40,000 people a yearincluding the best and brightestwere leaving the country
to get jobs in Britain, continental Europe and the USA.
Now, ironically, a greater number of immigrants enters
Ireland every year from other European Union member
states (notably Poland), as well as from Asia, Africa and
Latin America. One recent survey found that no less than
167 languages are in daily use in Ireland todaytruly
amazing for an island at the edge of Europe.

The road to
Frank McDonald

Bursting at the seams

The States population stands at 4.2 million, its highest
level since 1861, with foreign nationals accounting for
around 10% of the total. It has been rising by a record 2%
per year since 2002, which is the largest growth rate in the
EU and shows no signs of tailing off; according to projections, the population could exceed 5 million by 2020. But
given that it has been on a steeply upward curve since the
mid-1990s, this presented the Government with a unique
opportunity to use population growth as an engine for
sensible and forward-thinking spatial planning based on
the principles of environmental sustainability and balanced regional development. That opportunity has been

squandered, and spectacularly so. Indeed, Ireland is on

the way to becoming a city-state, with Dublin dominating everywhere else. Its capital has become an alarming
example of the 21st century phenomenon of the metacity, with tentacles stretching out all over the province
of Leinstervia the spokes of a Dublin-centred motorway network and pieces of the city popping up on the
outskirts of towns and villages within a radius of 80 to
100 kilometres. The increasingly European-style city
centre, with its new apartment buildings, smart shops
and cappuccino bars, is surrounded by a vast, sprawling
North American-style edge city.
Census 2006 conrmed Dublins unrestrained sprawl and, more generally, the suburbanisation
of Ireland at the expense of its cities. Indeed, its population statistics starkly illuminated the Governments laissez
faire approach to regional planning and its abject failure to
ensure that growth happens in an orderly way in the right
places. Thus, Dublin has even been allowed to sprawl into
parts of the province of Ulster. As the Central Statistics
Ofce (CSO) noted in its own commentary, Cavan had
the highest growth rate of the three Ulster counties, with
the main stimulus coming from the south of the county
which is within commuting distance of Dublin.
Leinsters share of the States overall population has continued to increase, largely fuelled by the
sprawl of Dublin; it now accounts for just over 54% of the
total. All of the counties in Leinster increased their populations between 2002 and 2006, in most cases by more
than the national average rate of 8%. Over the past 10
years, as the CSO noted, three countiesFingal, Meath
and Kildareaccounted for nearly 30% of the 609,000
growth in the States population. Fingal grew by an
astonishing 22% over the past four years, with the largest
increase (32%) in the Blakestown area of Blanchardstown,
one of the three new towns on the immediate outskirts
of Dublin.

Between them, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow

registered an increase of 15% in the same period. The
Midland Region, with an 11.5% rise, also comfortably
exceeded the national average rate. As the CSO noted, its
countiesLaois, Longford, Offaly and Westmeathalso
form part of the wider Dublin commuter belt. By contrast,
the capitals own population grew by just 5.6%, with the
large increase in Fingal being offset by smaller increases
in Dublin City (2%), Dn Laoghaire-Rathdown (1%) and
South Dublin (3.4%). The main reasons for this sluggish
performance were attributed by the CSO to the relatively
low level of new housing and an ageing population.
As Hubert Fitzpatrick, director of the Irish
Home Builders Association, said: What is happening
is that the failure to provide sufcient zoned and serviced lands in Dublin ... is creating a doughnut effect,
whereby increasing numbers of Dublin-based workers
are being forced to move further and further from the
city and inevitably rely in the main on car-based commuting. This is the direct opposite of what was meant to
happen under the 1999 Strategic Planning Guidelines for
the Greater Dublin Area (GDA), which laid down a policy
of consolidating the metropolitan area, with only limited
growth envisaged for the major towns of its hinterland.
That policy is now in tatters.
Nothing more graphically illustrates the
Governments failure than the case of Gorey, in Co
Wexford, 100km south of Dublin. Local councillors were
allowed to get away with rezoning vast tracts of land
around this planned 17th century market town for residential development aimed at long-distance commuters.
As a result, Goreys population soared by 44% between
1996 and 2002 and its outskirts recorded an even larger
increase (53%) over the past four years. The local area plan
concedes that at least 40% and possibly even as much as
70% of the new residents commute to Dublin on a daily
basis, mostly by car, making use of the much-improved

Figure 2
Annual new dwelling completions
per 1,000 of population among the
19 countries in the Euroconstruct
network, 2005
Source CSO

Figure 1
Average housing stock per
1,000 of population among the
19 countries in the Euroconstruct
network, 2005
Source CSO: Central Statistics
Ofce Ireland



N11 national primary route.

While this plan was being hatched, Martin
Cullenthen Minister for the Environmentdeclined
to use the powers available to him under the 2000
Planning Act to rescind it. In October 2005, after a sodturning ceremony for the N11 Gorey bypass, Cullen
now wearing his hat as Minister for Transporthailed
it as one of the fastest growing towns in the south-east.
The demographic change which Gorey has undergone
has been immense. We in Government must respond
to this change, he said. In effect, he was conceding that
there had been a failure of political leadership to prevent
the country being consumed by rampant unsustainable
Bowling alone
Although Taoiseach Bertie Ahern once identied sustainable development as fundamental to his vision of
Ireland, the truth is neither he nor his Government has
done anything to make it a reality on the ground. As a
result, the nightmare scenario painted by Robert Putnam,
in Bowling Alone, of community and even family life being
eroded by long-distance commuting, has become a grim
reality for many Irish people. Bertie Ahern is said to have
read the book twice and even invited Putnam to speak at
a Fianna Fil parliamentary party think-in, but there is
no evidence that this has had any impact on public policy,
particularly the need to curb sprawl.
Even as Dublins fringe areas experienced
astounding rates of growth54.6% in Ratoath, Co
Meath, for exampleolder established suburbs saw
their populations decline by between 8% and 16%, largely
due to the effects of the empty nest syndrome. The ight
of younger people to outer suburban areas in search of
affordable housing was mirrored by the Census returns
for Cork, Limerick and Waterford. The populations of
Cork City and Limerick City fell by 3.2% and 2.7% respec-

tively, while Waterford City recorded a modest increase and, with the emphasis on creating mixed use, walkable
of 2.6%. Meanwhile, Co Cork (+11.4%) was the fastest neighbourhoods. But their success is critically linked to
growing county in Munster, followed by Co Waterford the timely provision of good public transport, to give
(+9.2%) and Co Limerick (+8.3%).
residents a credible alternative to cars. The viability of
The most dreadful doughnut of all is a metro, however, is questionable in a meta-city like
Letterkenny, the largest town in Co Donegal. Its core Dublinunless traditional suburban housing is replaced
population plummeted by nearly 23% since 2002 while by much higher density development along the corridors
surrounding rural areas rercorded an aggregate increase it would serve.
of nearly 27%, with two townlandsBallymacool and
In the meantime, Dublin and Irelands
Corravaddyturning in growth rates of 43% and 51% smaller cities are faced with problem of stranded
respectively. But then, Letterkenny is remarkable for assets, particularly schools in established suburbs with
barely having more than one coherent street even as the ageing population proles; even writer Roddy Doyles
elds around it, up hills and down dales, were covered alma mater, Greendale Community School in the older
in concrete and tarmac. The county, once prized for its Dublin suburb of Kilbarrack, is threatened with closure.
spectacular scenery, has become a byword for haphazard Conversely, schools in rapidly expanding areas are burstdevelopment, spreading like wildre along its rugged ing at the seams or have yet to be built, at public expense.
In the seaside settlement of Laytown, Co Meath, almost
Galway did rather better than the other 100 children will have no school to go to in September,
cities, although the rapid growth in its population since local Labour councillor Dominic Hannigan complained.
1991 moderated to 9.3% between 2002 and 2006; one of Hundreds of people have to commute to work on crowded
the reasons given was that many inll developments trains, roads and buses. This is affecting the quality of life
in city areas consisted of apartments catering for only for hard-working families. Sewerage and water facilities
one or two persons. And theres the nub. Unlike most of are creaking and there are few playgrounds and leisure
their European counterparts, Irish families still prefer facilities for our youth, he said. What the residents of Co
our version of the Garden City idealtwo-storey houses Meath are offered in terms of transportation is another
with front and back gardens, generally built at 10 units motorwaythe M3which would snake past the Hill of
per acre (24 per hectare) and laid out along grass-verged Tara, ancient seat of Irelands high kings, and the more
roads, with ample room for car parking; this has been distant prospect of reinstating an old railway line linking
the spatial norm for Irelands suburbia from the 1960s Navan, the countys principal town, with Dublin. This is
surely a case of putting the cart before the horse, ditching any notion of sustainable development.
A prairie mentality
Even more unsustainableand uniquely
Things began to change, at least to some extent, after the Irishis the sprawl of one-off houses throughout the
adoption of new Residential Density Guidelines in 1999. countryside. Mainly urban-generatedUGH, to use
New Dublin development areas such as Adamstown, Tom de Paors apt acronymthese account for up to 40%
Pelletstown and Stepaside are radically different in of Irelands record output of new housing, which is curform, consisting predominantly of apartment blocks rently among the highest in Europe. This extraordinary


Figure 3
Population 1841-2006 (26 Counties)
Source CSO


Figure 4
Components of Population Change
Census periods 1926-2006
Source CSO

phenomenon, which threatens to destroy the landscape

and raw material of Irish tourism, is actually encouraged
by ofcial policy (the preposterously-titled Sustainable
Rural Housing Guidelines), and panders to the interest of
farmers in selling sites at a time of agricultural decline
no matter what environmental groups such as An Taisce
have to say about it.
The colonisation of the countryside for
housing is also driven by a false perception that land in
Ireland is an unlimited resource. This prairie mentality
is aggravated by a cultural attachment to the idea that
every citizen, as John Waters put it, had the right to nest
where he pleased in a nest of his own designing. The Irish
Rural Dwellers Association has also argued that there is
nothing wrong with reverting to the dispersed settlement pattern which existed on the island in pre-Famine
timesignoring the fact that very few people ventured
far outside their own parishes until the development
of the railways in the mid-19th century. Now, of course,
they all have cars.



Highest since 1861

Increase of 317,722 since 2002
Highest increase in EU
50% increase since 1961 (2.8m)

Figure 5
Percentage change in the population
of electoral divisions, 20022006
Source CSO

Census 2006

up by 2%largely as a result of the explosion in car

numbers and road trafc generally since the mid-1990s.
Oil accounts for more than 57% of our overall energy
consumptionmuch higher than the EU average.
Greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector
have risen by 144% between 1990 and 2004, making our
Kyoto target even more difcult to meet. And with the
Government investing 30 million per week in motorways and other major roads, we are being locked into a
US-style reliance on imported oil.

Apocalypse now?
Running on empty
What is to be done? Well, some of us were nave enough
Given the runaway suburbanisation we are witnessing to think that it was on the way to being sorted back in
todayincluding UGHit is no wonder that Ireland 1986 at the Dublin Crisis Conference. At the time, practihas become one of the most car-dependent countries cally every element of public policy was pointing in the
in the world. A report in 2000, Transport Investment wrong direction. Most appallingly, the inner city was
and Economic Development, showed that the average car being evacuated and carved up for roads, and the prostravels a distance of 24,400km per year70% more than pect of it accommodating even an extra 10,000 people was
France or Germany, 50% more than Britain and 30% more written off by the planners. But the conferences agenda
than the USA. With rising prosperity, the number of cars of repopulating the urban core and improving public
went up by more than two-thirds from 939,022 in 1994 to transport, rather than merely roads, soon became part
1,582,833 in 2004, while the number of trucks and com- of public policy. Most hearteningly of all, the number
mercial vehicles nearly doubled from 135,809 to 268,082, of inner city dwellers now stands at nearly 115,000up
as more goods are being transported by road.
from 75,000 in 1991.
Until the Celtic Tiger era, Irelands oil conThe real problem is that the Government
sumption per capita was below the EU average. But for does not recognise the asset value of cities, either in its
every 1% increase in economic growth, oil use has gone National Spatial Strategy, published in 2002, or its decen-

5 < 10
10 < 15

Figure 6
Percentage change in the population
of electoral divisions within Dublin,
Source CSO

tralisation programme, promulgated in 2003. Under this

crackpot programme, 10,300 public servants were to be
relocated from Dublin to 53 places spread over 25 counties. Of the 920 who were to be sent to Cork, not one was
to go to the city; they were to be dispersed to Clonakilty,
Kanturk, Macroom, Mallow, Mitchelstown and Youghal.
What chance then that Cork City Council would be able
to realise its vision of developing the redundant docklands along the River Lee, just as Dublin is doing along
the River Liffey?
The Governments failure to recognise
Irelands need for a real counterweight to Dublins dominance is its most grevious error of all. It could have
embraced Dr Edward Walshs concept of an Atlantic
Technology Corridor linking Galway, Limerick/Shannon
and Cork, but it shamelessly shirked that challenge.
Instead, everything is being left to the market to decide
whether its the explosive growth of new suburbs or the
pock-marking of rural landscapes with UGH. In 10 years
time, the country will be well and truly ruined, and we as
a people will be consumed with regret at having allowed
Ireland to be turned into a free-re development zone, a
sort of mountainy version of Flanders.

Source: Central Statistics Ofce

Reproduced with the permission of the Ordinance Survey. Irish Times Studio



FKL architects

Hinterland: The projected investment in transport infrastructure for the country to 2030 is concentrated on the
building of new roads. This priority reects the overriding car culture that exists in Ireland and the position of the
car as the primary status symbol. Cars are an integral part of the Irish dream of owning a house on a piece of land, near
family and friends, within easy reach of an urban centre. This desire has generated disparate patterns of development
consisting of one-off houses, ribbon developments and clusters. These are now characteristic of the Irish landscape
though difcult to sustain environmentally and socially, but are nevertheless sought after by a signicant proportion
of the population. New, improved roads will mean faster travel times for commuters and will enable people to settle
further from their places of work. This will increase the pressure on agricultural land bordering the conurbations
to provide housing and lead to further congestion on the commuter routes. the value of land Irish people have
historically valued the land above all, which has evolved into an ownership culture that has no responsibility to tend
the land, as it has become merely a commodity. The value of the land has changed. The productive landscape has been
exchanged for a one-time only cash crop of houses. Farmers reduce their production and the homeowners settle on
small housing plots that will release carbon emissions and waste into the environment. 8.2 tonnes of CO2 are emitted
annually per dwelling in Ireland97% higher than the EU averagewhich cannot be sustained. re-valuing the
land Our societys future lies in realising the potential of the resources available to us. A re-valuation of the land will
lead to a new attitude of sustainable development and a further evolution of the productive landscape, which will
support an increased population in the hinterland of the proposed road network.

Luis Aguirre
Michael Bannon
Jeff Bolhuis
Deirdre Brophy
Dara Burke
Miriam Delaney
Michelle Fagan
Andrew Grifn
Paul Kelly
Laurence Lord
Gary Lysaght
Donncha O Shea
Tara Quinn

The worlds highest average
distance in kilometres travelled
each year per carcompared to
20,000km by Danish drivers and
18,500km by US drivers



92 1250
Percentage of Irelands population living in rural areas

Percentage of Irelands energy requirement currently imported,

with only 2.2% generated from renewable sources domestically



Irish households living in single-family houses, compared with the EU average of 59%

Kilometres of new motorway and dual carriageway planned between 2000 and 2015



Population (1,000s)
Over 1,000
100 - 125
75 - 100
50 - 75
25 - 50
Under 25
Density 2001
persons per square km
Over 100
50 - 100
25 - 50
10 - 25
Under 10

Motorway/Dual Carriageway
Primary/Secondary Road
Commuter Zones

Population & Density 2001

Current road network

Cash crop housing

People want to drive cars, work in town and live in the countryside





Mode of travel





Dwelling type



Primary energy consumption







Population distribution



























Land use 2006

Current Irish population

Currently 40.1% rural dwellers
Max total population by 2030
Projected 30% rural dwellers by 2030
Rural population will continue to stagnate




Ash, birch and willow

trees absorb pollutants
and block road noise

Biofuel from each plot

and from road margins
is processed into biodiesel
in regional plants

Biofuel such as rape seed

will provide an income
stream, offsetting tolls and
improving trafc ow
Ash, willow, birch


Transfer to buses will reduce

overall trafc volume, noise
and pollution

Cycle lane




Dedicated bus lane

Proposed motorwayproductive network

Subverting the road network to public transport makes rural living viable
A change of emphasis for the individual road user from car
to busby translating one lane of every dual carriageway
to a dedicated bus lanewill serve to increase the capacity
of the road network. A coach can carry 54 passengers
and a doubledecker bus carries 77 but both only take up
the equivalent road space of 2.5 cars carrying an average
of 1.5 passengers, potentially removing up to 51 cars
from the road. Park and ride facilities will be provided at
intervals along the motorway, facilitating the transfer
from car to bus close to home and thereby attracting
amenities that will serve local communities. The local
car culture, integrated with a bus system, connects the
increased rural population to urban centres. The territory
occupied by the roadway is made productive to cultivate
biofuel for transport. Rapeseed or Miscanthus is planted

on the margins to provide the raw material for biofuel,

with willow and birch trees absorbing chemical and noise
pollution. The visual amenity of the road is enhanced by
this opportunistic planting, and reduced trafc levels
make living in proximity to the road a viable option.
Kilometres per car per year (2006)
Hectares required for biofuel per car
Cars on the road (2006)
Hectares required to produce biofuel just for cars

Percentage of agricultural
land required to provide
biofuel for current car use
51 cars

1 bus




Solar energy is converted

into electricity

Wind and solar

erratic sources are
used to pump water
to a high level tank
which can be used
to generate electricity
when required

The biodiesel is sufcient to

power a car for 5,000km and
1:50 share of a bus for 20,000km

Wind energy is
converted into

0.375ha of coppiced willow

provides heat and hot water
for an efcient home
0.125ha of reed beds processes
the waste produced by a family

0.375ha provides the basic fruit

and vegetables required by a family

A house plot of 0.25ha is

equivalent to the current site
size for one house

0.375ha of biocrops are

harvested and processed to
manufacture sufcient biodiesel

Self-sustaining housing plot

Reconnecting the housing plot to the productive potential of the land

22% of all energy consumed in Ireland is lost in
transmission. Generation of energy at point of use
eliminates the need to install costly networks in
low-density rural situations. The minimum size for a
sustainable residential plot is 1.5 hectares, which will
support an integrated system balancing energy production
to heat houses and produce basic food needs and fuel for
cars, while dealing with waste produced by occupants in
an environmentally benecial way.

This development pattern encourages the individual

to be self-sufcient, giving the freedom to operate
separately or with the community. The sustainable plot
allows for continuing involvement by farmers: they sell
the sustainable plots but can still maintain their lifestyle
as service providersthrough the ongoing cultivation of
biocropsto the new rural dwellers.

20 Houses
Willowgrown in 4-year cycles

Fruit & Vegetables

60ha Farm land

20 Houses 30ha combined

Willow provides

Reed bed
Harvesting route

Each plot is the size of two soccer pitches

Rape seed

Plot sub-division

Rapeseed harvested
from road

The current suburban development of 20 houses to the hectare requires

60 hectares of farm land to balance its ecological footprint. If we combine
housing and farming it requires only 30 hectares of land

Hectares of biofuel for 5,000 km by car

and share of 20,000 km by bus
Proposed hectares for a self-sufcient dwelling plot
Average people per dwelling by 2030
=> People per km2
National average population density per km2 (2004)










































5 M IN
















5 MI




5 MI

































Motorway hinterland provides a sustai nable rural settlement pattern

The plots will be experienced as a matrix of vegetation
and occupation, an evolution of the currently pleasing
farmland pattern. Interspersed feral land, overlaid with
a network of paths, will provide public access to the
countryside and support a wide diversity of wildlife and
The settlement accepts existing eld patterns,
subdividing them into 1.5-hectare plots arranged in strips
so that crops can be harvested with relative ease, in a
grouped or individual way, creating locally based rural
employment. The positioning of individual dwellings
allows for desired privacy but proximity to a hub affords
opportunity for social interaction.

It will take a maximum of 5 minutes by car, 20 minutes

by bicycle or 40 minutes by foot to the nearest Park and
Ride, which will provide a range of social and sporting
facilities, attracting through its accessibility a population
approaching 4,500.




Cycle path
Walking path




Self-contained system within each site

The Park and Ride will evolve into a hub attracting services
to support the local rural population

5 minutes drive from motorway

@ 166 people per km2
@ proposed 80% land use for plots
=> People per km of motorway
Projected length of dual-carriageway by 2015

3.3km radius




Proposed motorway hinterland2030

Connecting a viable rural population to a network of dense urban centres

In a country with a history of husbandry and land
management, the visual amenity of the countryside lies
in its functionality and through the contrast between
managed farmland and wild edges. The Hinterland pattern
will reconnect housing capacity with the productive
potential of the land and thereby create a rich pastoral
environment where the rural population is integrated
visually and environmentally. A change in attitude to the
construction of houses to respect climate, orientation
and locally produced materials will inform their nature and
aesthetic, making them innately part of the landscapea
new vernacular. By 2030, the rural hinterland of the road
network will be inhabited in a sustainable, coherent and
productive manner and will have reversed the relative
decline of the countryside.

Maximum total population in 2030

Proposed rural population @ 40.1%
Rural population increase
@ 700 people per km of motorway
Length of road required


Photography Services image p65
Google image p64/66


Dr. David Styles
School of Natural Sciences
Trinity College Dublin

FKL architects wishes to extend its gratitude to Marie Kelly for invaluable
help with editing the curators essay, SubUrban to SuperRural



Demographics: Ireland has the highest car use in Europe. Ireland has the lowest train use in Europe. Population
dispersal in rural areas does not support an alternative.

Henchion+Reuter Architects
Olaf Behrens
Michael Robert Conroy
Martin Henchion
Trine Kobbelvedt
Mary ONeill
Werner Weidenberg


1.6 60
Million projected population growth in the 25 years to 2030


Current density of population per square kilometre


Land area of Ireland in square kilometres



Distribution of settlements with over 5,000 inhabitants in 2001

Average kilometres travelled per car per annum

Population change, Ireland North and South

RIAI Representing Irish Architecture, 18 Nov 2004

(The President of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland, Tony Reddy)

Central Statistics Ofce Ireland.

Irish railway system 2006

Dublin has been forecast soon to occupy a surface

area equivalent to Los Angeles, but with less than
a quarter of its population. The citys commuter
belt extends from Dundalk in the north to Gorey
in the south and as far inland as Athlone. The
far circle of this belt has witnessed the greatest
population increase in the last 10 years.
The Republic of Ireland is projected to grow
by 1.6 million people in the period 2005-2030.
This is a 38% increase on the current population.
While this may represent a substantial change,
it is signicantly less dramatic than the fall in the
total islands population from 8.1 million people
to 6.5 million people in the period 1843-1850 (or
the subsequent population drop to 4.2 million by
By European standards, Ireland is not densely
populated at 60 people per km2. In fact, the lack of
substantial population density may be the biggest
challenge to development and growth, as the
critical mass required to support an integrated,
efcient infrastructure system is still lacking.
Irelands lack of viable alternative transport
and accommodation models increases the
pressure for new housing on farm land, to a
degree unimaginable in societies having advanced
infrastructure networks and higher residential

Irish railway system 1923

Passenger kilometres travelled by rail per head of population in 2004

Chaos at the Cross Roads by Frank McDonald + James Nix



A traditional country town

The road network is overwhelmed

Car and rail access

Car access only
Government Decentralisation Plan
Proposed relocation of 10,300 public servants,
currently mostly in Dublin, to 53 locations

Current plans to decentralise government departments

in a pattern of node points evenly scattered across the
country is not supported by an infrastructure system and
will cause further chaos in towns not structured to accept
further growth.
The National Spatial Strategy, inconsistent in parts
with the decentralisation plan, further proposes an even
distribution of gateways and hubs across the country.
Both plans assume a point system, rather than a network
of interconnecting functions or zones of activity.

The town begins to grow

The town is by-passed

The points chosen refer invariably to medieval towns

centres already clogged with trafc, surrounded by
low-rise development serviced by by-pass roads and
roundabouts. No successful model exists for the
satisfactory enlargement and development of these
towns, the growth of which can in certain instances
equate to a 100%increase in size.
Most country towns have limited capacity to accept
new infrastructure and population growth. The current
model of suburban housing and ring roads at the edge of
town militates against high-quality development.



Point-city zone
(area 800 sq km)

Tri-city zone
(area 1,600 sq km)

Mid corridor zone

(area 13,000 sq km)

Eastern corridor zone

(area 17,000 sq km)

Between 1993 and 2000 the number of new cars bought

annually in Ireland increased by 370%.

Travelling between Dublin

and Sligo takes 3h 05min
by Irish Raila distance of
A French TGV train would
be able to travel the same
distance in 48 minutes.

Penta Zone (area 27,000 sq km)

This area could ll to a density of 150 people per square

kilometrewhich is more
than enough to sustain a developed railway system with
frequent train departures.

Ireland has 3,312km of railways and 95,736km of roads.

Clearly, a thin and even spread of some of the projected
population increase across rural areas will add further
low-rise development and commit the country to decades
of car-dependent living. While many will continue to
gravitate to the main urban centres, Ireland has the land
resources to offer an alternative to city living.
Can a form of super-rural settlement pattern be
formulated that offers an alternative lifestyle to
city living but is organised to support a centralised
infrastructure system? For our investigation of
manipulations of density, we have considered where
this new population of 1.6 million people could be


Transport 21, the governments ten-year infrastructure

programme (20062015), will invest much more in roads
than railway. The ratio is almost ve to one.
Ten average cars use the same amount of fuel
as a Danish IC3 train with 133 seats.

SuperRural (2030)


Distances are measured in travel time



SuperRural 2030: A network of new towns overlaid on

Irelands existing infrastructure corridors and linked to
the major urban centres by a high-speed train system.

SuperRural town
28 minutes from Limerick

32 minutes from Dublin
SuperRural town
19 minutes from Cork

New towns located around dedicated infrastructure hubs



10% land occupied by housing

80% landscape
100- 150 housing units per hectare

40% land occupied by infrastructure

30% land occupied by housing
15-30 housing units per hectare

SuperRural Infrastructure hub

Suburban development model, 2006

80% landscape
10% land occupied by housing
100-150 housing units per hectare

SuperRural development model, 2030




The missing link: Ireland is the largest country in the EU that is not physically connected to the European Mainland.
With our trade-dependent economy, air travel has become a necessity. There will be 21,000,000 passenger journeys
from Dublin airport this year, equivalent to each person in the country making ve journeys. Almost half of all the
passenger journeys from Dublin airport are to the UK. The DublinLondon air route is the busiest in Europe and the
second busiest in the world. Based on the need to get to London, we propose a bridge connecting Ireland to the rest of
Europe. The distance from Dublin to London along this land route would be 570km (130 km Dublin to Rosslare, 80 km
Rosslare to Fishguard, and 360 km Fishguard to London). Along this would run a high speed train connecting Dublin to
London directly in 2 hours, and Dublin to Paris in less than 5 hours. attracting some order: This proposal strives to
develop a magnetthe easy link to the UK and the continentso great that the city will recreate itself around this link,
bringing housing development and infrastructure together. Dublin would become de-centralised, growing linearly
along the east coast of Ireland. Every part would be close to both rural landscape and the rail link, combining suburban
qualities (close to the countryside) with urban qualities (close to major infrastructure). The result is a super-rural
condition. If every part of a city is within easy reach of the major infrastructural route, then every part is close to the
centre; the suburban as we know it no longer exists. a middle ground between rural and urbanthe irish
dream: The attraction of a suburban lifestyle is derived from the desire to live in close proximity to the countryside
(or at least to a small part of it in the form of a front and back garden), coupled with the necessity of travelling and
working in the city. The development and enlargement of Dublin has been largely directed by these desires with the
surrounding sprawl extending ever outward from the centre, consuming the countryside with low density housing
which cannot support a workable public transport system. Ultimately, the current model of suburban development
is unsustainable, as the rural and the urban are being driven further and further apart. By creating the link to the UK,
Ireland would be putting in place a catalyst for the reconguration of the urban sprawl that currently threatens the
Irish countryside. A Dublin-London linear urban corridor would be created facilitating those who wish to have access
to Londons networks but would rather live and work elsewhere. The magnet of the bridge and the resulting formation
of a stretched city, an ElastiCity, will provide a new pattern for guiding Irelands growth.

Risn Heneghan
Shih-Fu Peng
Emer ODaly
Kathryn Stutts

High speed trains travel at over 250kph




Number of
ights per
week day
from Dublin
to London

The distance in kilometers from Dublin to London along this land route

Ireland is the largest EU country that is not physically connected to the European mainland

Projected number of passenger journeys from Dublin airport in 2006, equivalent to each person in the country making ve journeys.






The missing


Ireland is an island...

The DublinLondon route is the second busiest in the world...






Based on the need to get to London, we propose a bridge be built, connecting Ireland to the rest of Europe...

The physical distance between places becomes less
important as travel times are considerably reduced.
Currently the time it takes to travel from London to
Paris by the Eurostar is 2h 35 mins. Travelling by train
has begun to replace air travel due to faster trains, shorter
travel times and reduced check-in, security and boarding
formalities. The Eurostar has already captured 71% of the
London-Paris market from the airlines. Within Europe,
high speed trains are fast becoming the most efcient
and sustainable mode of travel.

All times are local. CET is one hour ahead of GMT


Building the bridge

Clearly this proposal is a signicant engineering
undertaking. The distance from Rosslare to Fishguard
is 80km and the Irish Sea is up to 100 metres in depth.
As a high speed train requires stability the bridge needs
foundations and cannot oat. By applying construction
techniques developed by the oil industry for oil platforms,
the bridge can be built and shipping channels maintained,
but it is an expensive undertaking.


However, consider the costs of our current condition. In

2005 there were 8.25 million passenger journeys through
Dublin Airport to the UK and 11 million from all the Irish
airports to the UK; trafc in 2006 is up 15%. All involve
air journeys of less than 1000km, distances at which air
travel is highly fuel inefcient. It has been estimated that
by 2040 aviation will consume the entire EU budget for
carbon emissions. We may need to connect, but whether
we will be able to do so by air is subject to question.
Different levels of occupation of the bridge

Global-scale urban planning

The process of globalisation has transformed Europe.
Different societies, cultures and economies are becoming
increasingly integrated and interdependent. New
technologies allow the rapid exchange of goods and
people from city to city, and the almost instantaneous
transfer of information and ideas. What this means is
that urban planning should not be restricted to national
boundariesit should be considered at a global scale.
We must start to think about our cities within a much
larger context than ever before.
Over the past decade Ireland has witnessed an
astonishing economic growth, largely as a result of the
contribution of overseas companies which have found
Ireland to be a highly competitive location from which to
serve international markets. This means that Ireland has
a high dependence on international trade, making it one
of the most open economies in Europe.


This boost to the Irish economy was initiated by

systematically creating new connections and links within
the larger context of the global market. By creating the
missing link to the UK, Ireland would not only become
physically connected to the EU, but would also be putting
in place a catalyst for the reconguration of its cities.
The magnet of the bridge and the formation of a stretched
city, an ElastiCity, would result in Dublin and London
becoming increasingly integrated. New development
would evolve alongside the infrastructure in the form
of a Dublin-London Corridor.

D ubl i n



Dublin and London


Dublin London



Dublin 2005

Dublin 2015

Dublin 2025

Dublin 2030

From radial to linear citythe rearrangement of nodes

Directed sprawl: The benets of elasticity

Dublin has developed beyond its infrastructural
capabilities. The multi-directional, unguided sprawl
of Irish housing cannot be serviced by a functional
transportation system, as development has spread too
widely and at too low a density. This link would redirect
Dublins development to stretch linearly along the
east coast of Ireland. It would become a multi-centred
metropolis composed of a series of nodes, evolving
alongside the primary infrastructural link. Because
the nodes are gathered along a single line rather than
scattered across an area as they are now, high-speed
trains running along the east coast become economically

Shorter distance between

city and countryside

Greater distance between city

and countryside

viable, as they are able to serve the entire city. This new
model is not based on a traditional centralised European
city that relies on a dense urban core. Rather, it is a city
that has unfurled, so that the edge and the centre are
adjacentan ElastiCity.

City centre

Typical City






Dr Constantin Gurdgiev is an
Economist with Trinity College, Dublin
and University College Dublin, and
Editor of Business & Finance.


An alternative vision of
Ireland in contrast with
the current spatial
development mantra
Constantin Gurdgiev

To a casual visitor departing Dublin City
centre, as the rows of Georgian and Victorian homes give
way to the monotony of suburbia, the imagery of Green
Ireland slowly recedes into the memory of the tourist
brochures. Dominated by the ageing stock of standardized housing, the typically provincial 1960s Northern
English architecture is reinterpreted in bricked and
pebble-dashed rows of homes haphazardly snaking
across the landscape. The entire architectural language
of Irish suburbia can be compressed to just two expressionsa dormer bungalow and a pitch-roofed box. The
social order that abhors any attempt at transgression
makes certain that nothing passing the local planners
desk disturbs its aesthetic tedium.
On the urban margins, strings of relatively
concentrated developments radiate from the M50 ring
roadbeads of towns/villages with occasional awkwardly protruding blocks of apartments threaded on
the thin needles of the main motorways. Staring into
the connes of a solitary public square, an average
Irish town usually avoids waterways and other natural
features as focal points of orientation. A local pub
forming the main point of attraction is an apt reection
of a country psyche still inclined to measure the cost of
living in pints. Premium aesthetic goods like the view
and identifying features of the landscape fail to inform
the architectural patterns. New plain-faced four or vestoried buildingsthe symbols of high-rise modernity
in a townfolk viewoften compete for light and air with
decaying factory walls or the corrugated rust of adjoining farm yards. Walkways lack breadth and trees. Street
corners rarely contain an element of surprise, such
as a sudden square or a remnant of past public space.
Sculpture and architectural detailing are either nonextant or mimic past decades, as if past-their-prime
artists have descended en masse on Irish provincial

towns to leave their lasting mark on Earth. Even recently

completed buildings prefer to cut into elevated sites
instead of using the contours of the naturally diverse
and rich Irish terrain to their positioning advantage.
In this space
One drowns without
So much as a trace,
Or a record of a loss
It is hard to nd a less human attitude to landscape
than that presented by the extra-urban Ireland. In constantly blending land to suit the needs of agricultural
production and suburban expansion, Irish countryside
adjoining the larger cities has been reduced to an unimaginative utilitarian spread of featureless ground. Only
older estates retain mature trees, fruit orchards and wellmaintained streams or ponds.
Stretching beyond the extra-urban belt
lies the world of abandoned heaps of concrete rubble
and rusting skips of smaller roadsthe rural space of
one-off housing. Here a juxtaposing of traditional and
modern is reected in the physical positioning of the
buildings. With the exception of historical estates, the
older dwellings and the layout of the established countryside conform to the geophysical features of the landscape.
Sprinkles of bungalows, at to the ground. Fences
Built to contain the guts of wisteria turning.
Ones speech here grows slower, coarser, wetter, hollow.
Chances are, the thoughts will follow
Single-road towns, with gas stations convenience stores
increasingly serving as focal points of local economic
activity, are rarely distinguished by anything resembling
a unique character. Just as with the larger extra-urban
towns, the Irish countryside is based on the 19th century
view of land as a productive unit, unimportant from the
point of view of its aesthetic value.


In contrast, buildings completed since the mid-1990s

represent a departure from their surroundings. Often
imposing in size and ostentatiously decorated, they
achieve greater visibility and prominence in the landscape. This effect is only exaggerated by the pervasive
lack of vegetation around the new builds, the ubiquitous
plaques with ostentatious names of the dwellings, often
executed in a tombstone fashion, and imposing stone
walls. In an attempt to stamp a mark on their surroundings, the newer structures appear garish and loud. The
majority of the decorative elements that are supposed to
inform the architectural vocabulary arrive from a limited
number of sourcesthe new Irish countryside resembles a badly arranged quilt of DIY-styled faades. Lines
of faux balconies with galvanized railings are punctuated by Doric columns and neoclassical porticoes, and
a national obsession with Velux replaces the ubiquitous
window lace of the past.
Exiting the rural zones, one is transported
into the landscape of private agriculturethe ultra-rural
space. Here, open vistas are rarely public and access to the
land, with its often unparalleled, aesthetic attributes
views, geophysical features and locations is severely
restricted. With the exception of a handful of scenic
routes, the majority of rural roads are submerged below
the line of sight by hedges and walls. Roadways commonly follow articial farm boundaries, passing through
geophysical locations selected for the lowest quality
of agricultural land. Narrow and blank-walled bridges
obscure rivers and valleys. Wading through salmon and
trout streamsthe sacrosanct subjects of Filte Ireland
brochuresone routinely encounters farm run-offs and
mudslides along the shore, abandoned barbwire fences
hanging across the water, construction debris, and livestock and machinery tracks running through the shallow
areas. The precious few public-access sheries and hiking


trails are severely restricted by adjoining private lands.

The only exceptions to this rule can be
found on the grounds of larger estates, often converted
into golf courses with auxiliary functions of providing
access to private shing and hiking. Over the years, in
these estates, concentrated ownership of land allowed
for more heterogeneous development and land management, including the use of land for entertainment and
aesthetic enjoyment.
Thus, without leaving the car, a traveler is immediately
introduced to the main feature of Irelandthe lack
of access to its natural and geophysical store of riches.
Irish culture does not treat land as a resource capable of
supporting diversied services or as an aesthetic good,
preferring to use it as a utilitarian input into basic agroindustrial production. This attitude over the years has
informed governments approach to development. In
a succession of various development plans, the State
treated rural areas as simultaneously unique preserves of
undened Irish heritage, and regional underperformers
in need of accelerated development.
This is surprising given the prominence of
the Irish tourism industry in rural employment and the
mythology of the island as a land rich in cultural heritage
intertwined with nature. In reality, while Irelands economic success translated into revitalizing the countrys
urban make up, the tight grip of agriculture and local
politics on Irelands rural areas has led to a continued
decline in rural tourism. Over the last few years, virtually
every international tourist survey of Ireland found that
our countryside is lacking distinctive features worth
visiting and offers little in terms of high-quality recreational amenities.

This essay outlines the state of Irish spatial policies,

stressing the apparent failure of national development
strategies to reverse the organic urbanization brought
about by the accelerated economic development of the
last 15 years.
We conclude by proposing an alternative
vision of Ireland in which urban and suburban areas are
encouraged to further increase population density. If
Ireland were to pursue this organic growth, the process
of separation of rural areas from urban zones will continue. The result will be a transformation of Ireland into a
high-growth and high-density island with ve core locations of economic and social activity which will support
a set of large recreational zones similar to the state and
federal parks in the US. This process will coincide with
continued reduction in the economic diversication
of peripheral rural locations to the point of rural areas
emerging as publicly accessible forestry and parklands
with developed recreational infrastructure.


The NSS (2001) explicitly stated that One of

the objectives of the NSS should be to shift the current
gravitational forces in Ireland westwards. If centres too
close to Cork/Dublin are selected as gateways/hubs, they
will simply become commuter towns. The NDP 20002006 envisioned the promotion of a small number of
additional regional gateways (urban growth centres)
[and] positive discrimination in favour of regions lagging
behind in relation to support for new enterprise and the
productive sector in general. This approach hardly made
sense in reality:
Since the beginning of the 1990s, the majority of
economic development and jobs creation took place
within the ve urban areas of Dublin, Cork, Waterford,
Limerick and Galway.
Foreign direct investment previously located in rural
areas started to withdraw from the Republic or relocate higher value-added processes to urban locations.
The cost basis for high value-added jobs creation is
less favourable in rural locations due to shortages of
infrastructure, amenities, knowledge networks and
the lower ability of these areas to attract and absorb
skilled domestic and foreign labour.
Enhancement of gateway developments within urban
areas is more likely to result in the growth of communities adjoining urban high-density locations, inducing reverse commute patterns and local employment.
Despite stating that the objectives of the spatial development policy include preservation of natural habitats and the environment, the NSS (2001) concluded
that There must be a strategic expansion of rural villages and towns; people should be encouraged to live
in rural areas.

Tunnel vision in development planning

In Ireland, the organic evolutionary process
of continued separation of rural periphery from the
urban centres is being undermined by a host of state and
local initiatives.
According to the National Spatial Strategy
(NSS, 2001), Irish rural areas experienced a strong decline
in population even in the boom years of the mid 1990s.
However, there was little concerted effort to develop
declining areas with a focus on recreation, natural habitat
preservation and restoration. Instead, the regional development plans, the NSS and the National Development
Plan (NDP) insisted on the feasibility of mixed development, with industry and auxiliary services coinciding
with the recreational use of land and high value-added Thus, the NSS and the NDP 2000-2006 set out to achieve
conicting objectives. The expansion of isolated towns



Figure 1
Urban population projections
Urban population refers to the Greater Dublin,
Cork (SW), Waterford (SE), Limerick and Galway
(W) areas computed under the current demographic trend scenario. Source: Blackwell (2001)

was seen as a response to suburban sprawl, while agriculture and population maintenance in the rural areas
was seen as a conservation objective. Instead of focusing
on the rural locations comparative advantage over larger
urban centres, the Government simply interpreted rural
Ireland as a collection of semi-urban areas. Under specic allocations programmes, the NDP 2000-2006 contained little in terms of differentiated measures aimed
at distinct rural development, focusing the majority of
funds on building up urban-style infrastructure and
economic development programmes in rural areas. Only
under the measures related to the Common Agricultural
Policy (CAP) did the NDP 2000-2006 attempt to deliver
some tailored programmes, including limited support
under the Rural Environment Protection Scheme and
for forestry.
Despite the abject failure to deliver on
the promised correction of the rural-urban gap, the
same policy errors are replicated in NDP 2007-2013.
For example, NDP 2007-2013 (2006.3) proposes that If
Ireland is to retain a substantial proportion of its population in rural areas... Settlement policies are needed that
take into account varying rural development contexts.
Enhanced accessibility must be linked with integrated
settlement policy to revitalise rural communities. And
furthermore, at an overall level, the sustainable rural
settlement policy framework has as broad objectives: (1)
To sustain and renew established rural communities...
(2) To strengthen the established structure of villages
and smaller settlements to accommodate additional
population in a way that supports the viability of public
transport and local infrastructure and services, (3) To
ensure that key assets in rural areas such as water quality,
the natural and cultural heritage and the quality of the
landscape are protected to support quality of life and
economic vitality.

Indeed the NDP (2006.3) claims that it will be necessary

to secure agriculture by maintaining the maximum
possible number of family farms. At the same time, the
NDP sets out to diversify rural employment options and
stabilise population through: resource-based development
in sectors such as forestry, marine and natural resources,
enterprise and local services; tourism development
through quality market-responsive products, enhanced
access and co-ordinated promotion of a tourism product;
protecting landscape, water resources and habitats. All of
the latter objectives have been continuously undermined
by agricultural development in the Republic (see RENSS,
2000 and the ongoing debate about access to rural land).
These strategies show that the Government
is committed to articially inate population in rural
areas and to continue pushing for urban-style economic
development alongside support for agricultural and
urbanised development programmes, with little differentiation between urban and recreational tourism (see
Finance, 2006). One cant have the cakean increase in
rural population and traditional (industrial and services)
employmentand eat it, to ensure the preservation and
enhancement of key rural assets.
This led to mimicry from local authorities, as rural zones politically accepted and embraced
the state funding and development buzzwords. In many
cases, local authorities interpret NDP 2007-2013 objectives as a mandate to continue mixed development of
rural areas along suburban development patterns (see,
for example, SERA, 2006 and SWRA, 2006).

* Urban-2006 scenario was computed

using Census 2006 gures.

**Urban scenario corresponds to NDP

2006-2013 forecasts.


Fleeing rural Ireland

Since the early 1990s, Ireland has experienced both a decline of rural and ultra-rural communities and a continued strengthening of urban centres,
as illustrated in Figure 1. The former process was most
notable in the sparsely populated and remote areas of the
Border countiesDonegal, the Western Midlands and
the West. The latter is exemplied by the rapid growth
of Dublin and Cork.
In 1996, the Greater Dublin Area was home
to approximately 38.8% of the Irish population, rising
to 41.79% by 2002. Census 2006 results show that today
Greater Dublin accounts for 42.63% of Irelands population. Overall, Irelands ve main urban areas were home
to 59.1% of population in 1996, rising to 60% in 2000.
Adjusting for the Census 2006 preliminary results, the
share of Irelands population residing in the main urban
areas will increase from 63% today to 72% by 2030.
According to the DRA (2006), It is clear
that Irelands economic growth has been an urban-led
phenomenon, with the Dublin Region providing the
main engine of growth for the country as a whole. More
importantly, this trend in development will continue:
If the CSOs more optimistic projections prove to be
accurate, then the Dublin Region could see its population increase by almost 40% on 2001 levels rising to 1.55
million by 2021 (DRA, 2006). Ironically, Census 2006
already shows the Greater Dublin Area having 1,661,185
Looking at the spatial distribution of dependency rates
over time, the pattern of a more productive population
residing in urban centres will remain. This will coincide
with the widening gap in favour of the urban centres
share in total employment. By 2010, 66.7% of all high
value added jobs in the country will be located in the
Greater Dublin areaup from 62.7% in 2000.

Overall there is no evidence that the existent rural population can be sustained, let alone enhanced
in the areas not associated with larger urban locations.
Areas experiencing population growth have a strong
urban structure within or associated with them. This
has helped them to attain a critical mass in terms of population, which supports investment in necessary infrastructure, attracts or generates employment and sustains investment and development in the wider rural
hinterland. Movement of people to the areas where the
investment and jobs are generated, or can be drawn to,
as well as natural population increase, reinforces these
areas population base and fuels further population
growth (NDP, 2006.2). Figure 3 illustrates the resulting
spatial distribution of areas, experiencing growth and
These processes are unlikely to be reversed
by central planning efforts without a signicant displacement of economic growth. The Government appears to
be oblivious to this fact. Despite all efforts exerted under
the various National Development Plans so far, Census
2006 shows marked deterioration in population and economic activity in the rural areas and particularly in the
Border, Western Midlands and Western regions, i.e. the
areas receiving most funding per capita under the NDP
and NSS programmes.
In line with population concentrations, the
urban areas of the country hold a dominant position in
terms of overall economic activity. In 2002, the value of
the goods and services produced in the Dublin Region
exceeded Euro 42 billion, or 37% of the national total. By
2005 these gures increased to Euro 53 billion, or 40.5%
of the national output.
Over the years, the urban areas experienced
faster rates of jobs creation and renewal. While outside
the ve main urban areas in the country the average
change in employment between 1995 and 2000 was only


Figure 2
& Traded Services


Urban and Suburban Regions (USU) of Dublin, Cork,

Limerick, Galway and Waterfordthe regions where sectoral composition of services and employment is evenly
distributed and broadly based, productivity growth is
strong and other factors (such as multipliers), perhaps
from strong stores of infrastructure, are present.
Adjacent to Urban Regions (AU) are extra-urban
areas that include parts of the Eastern, Southern, South
Western and Mid Western Regions which have yet to
fully diversify their employment [and services] base and
which are not as yet experiencing marked productivity
gains as a result.

+8.2% for domestic and +4.3% for foreign jobs, urban

areas had jobs change rates of +27% and +39% respectively. For greater Dublin these gures were even higher,
with 46.7% of domestic jobs and 67.4% of foreign direct
investment jobs being added to the economy between
1997 and 2000. These trends became even more pronounced with rural and remote locations losing large
number of jobs in recent years.
The gures for jobs creation in advanced
sectors of the economy are even more dramatic. Between
1995 and 2000, Dublin experienced an increase of 17.3%
in advanced sectors employment. The urban areas of the
country experienced an average increase of 11.1%, while
the rest of the country experienced an increase of only
2%. In the rural regions, there was a net contraction in
high-quality employment of approximately 0.76%. The
fact that urban and adjacent regions have higher valueadded economies is illustrated in Figure 2.
Distinct differences in patterns of development allow us to distinguish three well-dened types of

Figure 3
Increasing density green areas are
transitions from rural (light green)
to ultra-rural/parkland areas
(darker green).

Urban areas (dark brown) to extraurban areas (light grey) are based
on existent projections for NDP

Isolated Rural Regions (IR) exist at the margins of the

Adjacent to Urban Regions, where small economies of
scale and a low degree of economic and social diversication imply over-reliance on agriculture and traditional sectors. These areas represent a mix of rural and
ultra-rural zones, with the latter distinguished from
the former primarily by the intensity of the agricultural
economy in the overall development mix.
Figure 3 illustrates these areas and shows
the major locations of declining and growing population.



Toward a green Ireland

Using the classication above, we can
outline a pattern of organic growth-driven evolution
of the main regions. In doing so we rst summarise the
underlying demographic and socio-economic conditions driving this evolutionary process:
a. Consistent with the widening gap between rural and
urban zones, some of the smaller towns, particularly
those located in the less developed periphery, are de
facto becoming IR-type entities.
b. Despite the concerted efforts to reverse development
and growth concentration in urban areas, USU and a
few adjoining AU regions continue to separate from
the IR regions and are effectively merging into a
diversied urban core.
c. Within the USU regions, the Greater Dublin Area
exhibits unchallenged dominance as the focus of
economic development in the Republic.
d. Rising economic afuence in the USU regions will
exert added demand pressures on IR to supply land
for recreational and environmental use, while the
declining importance of agriculture in the economy,
coupled with forthcoming reforms of the CAP, will
put under strain the concept of land as an input into
agricultural production, favoured by Irish social

e. Increased emphasis on high value-added services in

the Irish economy will imply further concentration
of economic activities within the ve main urban
areas and the drying out of foreign direct investment
and domestic investment in rural locations.
f. Increased emphasis on human capital-intensive
technologies will amplify the importance of urban
education centres, leading to a declining ability of
the rural areas to retain a young population.



Parkland and Rural Areas

Greater Urban Areas
Population Growth Areas
Population Decline Areas

Both the existent patterns of demographic and social evolution and the demand and supply pressures of modernizing society experienced in Ireland suggest that within
the next 20-30 years, rural Ireland will shift more toward
the IR-type of development, while the extra-urban zones
will become increasingly urbanized.
In this context, the organic evolutionary
process of spatial development suggests that by 2030,
Ireland will be composed of predominantly two types of
areas, illustrated in Figure 3:
Urbanized regions: focused on the main ve cities,
these regions will exhibit population density similar to
todays Dublin, with all universities and tradable activities concentrated within their boundaries. A gradual
spatial diffusion from the high-rise, high-density urban
core toward mixed development in the suburbs will
imply that the present-day extra-urban spaces of one-off
housing will be pulled into well-dened satellite-towns
and suburbs. Parts of extra-urban zones will supply highquality niche agricultural products to urban regions.
Ultra-rural regions: This will be large areas of predominantly recreational lands with land-owners employed in
land-maintenance, forestry and tourism-related services.
Within these regions, some of the more remote locations
will cease to retain their current makeup as farm house-


holds will be pulled into urbanized regions. The land

made available from failing agriculture will be aggregated into larger holdings that can sustain more active
forms of recreation, such as outdoor sports, hunting,
shing and naturalized semi-commercial forestry.
This scenario is largely consistent with future development trends outlined in the NDP (2006.3) itself: The
majority of new jobs will continue to be created in services rather than manufacturing [with new enterprises]
preference for locations at or close to major points of
consumer demand plus their requirements for infrastructure to trade in products and services which have
a high information content. Local services, health care,
leisure and tourism will become even more signicant
as the population ages and disposable incomes rise in
the high productivity and traded sectors Skills related
to technological and organisational development and
innovation will become more signicant requirements
for business enterprises. Regions with a strong population base that can support high quality business infrastructure, technological development and innovation
will continue to be major attractions A range of high
quality locations will be necessary to present opportunities for business to attract skilled labour from abroad to
support operations in Ireland.
All of the above point to the continued
decline of industrial and services development in rural
locationsa conclusion missing from the NDP 20062013 politicised vision of Ireland. In the context of the
dual-patterned development, it is important for the
future of tourism and recreational services to ensure
consumers access to the land is made available by agricultural withdrawals. This will require:
a. Establishment of post-CAP tax incentives for
farmers to convert land from agricultural production into recreational use, subject to free public


access, and compliance with environmental and

safety regulations promoting the return of land to
its natural state.
b. Abandonment of all population maintenance and
investment-shifting policies in rural areas.
c. A unied system of private permits for recreational
activities, with proceeds ring-fenced to support
maintenance and improvements to the natural
facilities supporting these activities.
If Ireland were to pursue its organic growth processes in
line with those experienced during the Celtic Tiger years,
the changes from rural to urban areas necessitated by
the need for sustained growth will lead to a continued
separation of rural areas from urban and extra-urban
zones. The result will be a transformation of Ireland into
a high growth and high-density island with three or four
core locations of economic and social activity, which
will support a set of large recreational zones similar to
the state and federal parks in the US. This process will
coincide with continued reduction in economic diversication of the peripheral rural locations, to the point of
rural areas emerging as publicly accessible forestry and
parklands with developed recreational infrastructure.
If green and sustainable development is the
real objective of the Irish State, then a Republic where
the countryside is allowed to emerge as a naturalized
parkland supporting a high value-added recreational
economy is the way forward.

Blackwell (2001) Population, Labour Force
and Housing Demand Projections The
National Spatial Strategy, Final Report
October 2001, Jonathan Blackwell and
Census 2006, Preliminary Report Central
Statistics Ofce A6/0988, July 2006.
DRA (2006) The National Development
Plan 2007-2013: A Submission by the Dublin
Regional Authority March 2006
Finance (2006) Presentation by Minister
for Finance to Joint Oireachtas Committee
on Finance and the Public Service on NDP
2007-2013 14th June, 2006
NDP (2006.2) Section 2: Irelands Changing
Spatial Structure, NDP 2007-2013.
NDP (2006.3) Section 3: Irelands Future
Spatial Structure, NDP 2007-2013.

The author wishes to extend his gratitude
to Jennifer Hord for invaluable help with
designing this essay.

NSS(2001) The National Spatial Strategy

Indications for the Way Ahead, 2001.
NSS (2001.6) National Spatial Strategy:
Irish Perspective. Paper 6 Enterprise,
Employment and Productivity Trends.
RENSS (2000) Rural Enterprise, National
Spatial Strategy, NUI Maynooth, December
SERA (2006) South-East Regional
Authority Submission to the Department
of Finance on the preparation of a National
Development Plan 2007-2013, March 2006.
SWRA (2006) South West Regional
Authority Regional Submission on the
National Development Plan 2007- 2013,
March 2006.



MacGabhann Architects

TideawaysExpanding tourism and leisure: The current rural building boom is fuelled by an increasing population,
keen to express its increasing wealth in built form. One third of all existing houses in Ireland have been built since
1995, and most of these are outside major urban centres. Every year, one in three new houses is a one-off house in a
rural location, and up to one in eight is built as a second or holiday home. It is estimated that there are already 200,000
second or holiday homes in the Republic of Ireland, approximately one for every twenty people. housing demand:
Much of the current housing demand is in coastal locations and seaside towns. The coastline is a limited and valuable
resource. The whole island encompasses 3,172km of coastline for 5.2m people (6.8m in 2030), representing 0.61
(0.47) metres of coast per person. The coastline is under pressure, and continuation of current trends will lead to
deterioration in the coastal environment, both visually and physically (Coastal Zone Management, Spatial Planning
Unit, Department of the Environment and Local Government, May 2001). the dilemma of tourism: As one of
the most conspicuous manifestations of contemporary tourism in Ireland, the holiday home lies at the crux of the
conict between coastal landscape preservation and development. In regions increasingly reliant on the tourism
industry, planners must balance the environmental impact of such dwellings against the income they generate for
the local economy. the rundale system: Drawing on the historic Rundale system of land sharing, Tideaways
proposes a transformation of afuent leisure, its social experience and its environmental impact. Instead of further
expansion, development is condensed at strategic locations along the coastline. Settlement extends onto the coastal
shelf to include oating, seasonally-removable elements. Living spaces move with the ebb and ow of the tide,
sometimes exposed, sometimes concealed, and provide continually changing views and shifting congurations of
outdoor spaces. Paths unexpectedly cross, short cuts emerge, and residents nd they are suddenly neighbours. The
restorative qualities of the natural elements, and their interactions with social arrangements, are greatly amplied in
this responsive kinetic landscape.

Jan Kaluza
Antoin MacGabhann
Tarla MacGabhann
Niels Merschbrock
Tanja Nopens
Conor Moloney
Tobias Schmitz
Noel Fallon
Pressure Hydraulics



The number of houses per hectare in current
development patterns along the coastline


The number of houses being built per annum (2005)

43 8,000
Percentage of one-off houses in
rural areas in 2003 (36% in 2000)

Lowest estimate of the number of second or holiday homes being built annually



Loss of coastlinePortsalon2000, 2002, 2030

The coastal zone will remain under pressure from

second and holiday homes given the buoyant
economy. It is clear however that
continuation of current trends will lead to
deterioration in the coastal environment, both
visually and physically
Coastal Zone Management, Spatial Planning Unit,
Department of the Environment and Local Government, May 2001

The dilemma of tourism

The beauty of the Irish coastline is a huge attraction
and a key driver of our tourism industry. Visitors require
accommodation, and the desired model is a holiday or second
home. Yet, the proliferation of these holiday homes has the
potential to destroy the very landscape that attracts people in
the rst place. Despite being in use only 10-20% of the year,
these buildings are visible 100% of this time.
As the decline of shing industries, small farms and
indigenous industry along the western seaboard depletes
the area of its population and economic means of existence,
tourism becomes a vital aspect to the survival of communities
in these areas. If planning authorities are to control holiday
development in rural and coastal areas, they must offer a
development model which facilitates construction of holiday
houses in an environmentally and socially sustainable way.

2000 Portsalonsmall town on the west shore of Lough Swilly, Co. Donegal, townland of Croaghcross;
permanent population estimated at 300 to 500.

2002 Demand for housing evidenced by the number of planning applications in Croaghross over the 5
years from 2001 to 2005: one-off houses 8; houses in schemes, 31; apartments 8; Total = 47.

2030 Similar demand over the coming years would result in an additional 80 units by 2015 and a further
93 units by 2030 within the extent of land shown i.e. two-thirds of the townland of Croaghross.


Enclosed Garrai
(Vegetable Gardens)


Rise and fall restricted

to 1.2m when occupied

House completely concealed

when not in use


Rediscovering a forgotten system of land distribution
the Rundale system
The Tideaway concept proposes an alternative model for
the development of holiday homes along the coast. Using
the Rundale system of land distribution, the precious
coastline is shared more equitably and sustainably, using
less land and allowing more than one dwelling to get
the same sea views and stretch of coast line.

Part-time use = part-time visibilityutilizing tidal

forces to move the houses

The Tideaway project seeks to address the issue of holiday

house developments, which are vacant for 80% to 90% of

the time but, being visible 100% of the time, cause such

intrusion to visual amenity. Three rows of dwellings are

built parallel to the coasta row of permanent terraced
cottages, a row of dwellings which move up and down

with the tide (disappearing underground when not in use)

and a row of oating homes on pontoons in the water

(which are removed for safe storage when not in use).
Like the Rundale system of land distribution, all three
rows share the same piece of coastline and, as the houses
move up and down with the tide, they share the same
views of the sea.






Rundale system Rutland Island

Oxfortd English Dictionary, Oxford University Press 1973

Intelligent functional adaptation to a specic set of ecological

& demographic circumstances.

Rundale system Tory Island

A form of joint occupation of land, each joint holder occupying
and cultivating several small strips or patches not contiguous
to each other.

Enlarging the plotutilising the water
as an extended building area
The Tideaway model proposes a
development density of 52 units per
hectare (21 per acre). The typical existing
holiday home development
has a density
of 9 dwellings per hectare (3.6 per acre),
as illustrated by the development of

Portsalon. Each dwelling occupies

equivalent of 2 metres of coastline.

In current patterns of holiday home

development, each cottage typically
occupies the equivalent of 11 metres

of coastline.

Developing the Tideaway model
Current holiday homes are based on the idea of the
hideawaya retreat or refuge from everyday life.
However, the cumulative effect of so many holiday
houses has a potentially devastating effect on the
everyday life of coastal areas. This project seeks to
reimagine the holiday home as more integrated with
the coastal locations and their natural and social cycles,
as a tideaway rather than a hideaway.




Using the force of nature moving houses

Low tidein occupation

High tidein occupation

The Tideaway module

Emptyany state of tide


Holiday seasonhouses in occupation, high tide

Living within the course of nature

a unique holiday experience
The Tideaway houses rise and fall with the tide and as
such they connect the inhabitants closer to nature and
the universe (it is the gravitational forces of the moon
and the sun that create the tides). This connection with
nature further enriches the holiday experience. The
residents in the sinkable houses experience an everchanging view as their houses rise up and down with the
tide. They live in a moving landscape that reinforces the
connection to place and landscape.

Implementationhow and where does the module work?

The Tideaway development model suits locations on
inlets that are protected from exposed ocean swells,
which is typically where villages along the Irish coastline
are located. Locations with a rise and fall of tide not
exceeding 2m are ideal. The mean rise and fall of the tide
along the coast of Ireland is 2.2m. The module is easily
adaptable to various landscape formations and extendable
to suit local demand.

Holiday seasonhouses in occupation, low tide

B sinkable
C removable
Basic module:
3 rows of 26 houses = 78 houses

Extended along the coastline

Extended perpendicular
to coastline

Split into smaller parts

Off-seasonsunken and removed houses, all tides


A permanent

hydraulic connection


Bend to fit the landscape

Extendability and adaptability

Number of dwelling units

in a single Tideaway module


Number of dwelling units

in a single Tideaway module
placed in 16 locations


Number of dwelling units

if the module is doubled


Number of dwelling units

if the module is doubled and
extended to 5 rows




Tideaway modules

Extended Tideaway module

Macroscalesuitable locations for Tideaway modules

Sheltered from strong Atlantic seas
Close to redundant shing harbours for
off-season storage of removable houses

2030 Portsalon196 new houses (the projected demand for this area by 2030) utilising the Tideaway model of
development instead of the current one-off house pattern of development. See page 109 for comparison


Redundant shing harbours suitable

for winter storage of removable houses

Microscaleplug into existing village

The Tideaway module ties into existing village
infrastructure. Its mix of holiday and permanent homes
creates a symbiotic relationship with the existing village.



ODOS architects

vertical sprawl is a provocation intended to arouse

interest in how we live and what the possible repercussions
could be, should we continue to indulge current Irish
development trends (horizontal sprawl). It is a reaction to
the seemingly unregulated expansion of Irelands major cities
and towns. It recognises a number of uniquely Irish attitudes
and conditions and rather than trying to subvert them, uses
them as both the inspiration and material for a response. The
nature of recent urban expansion has been fueled by the twin
Irish obsessions with land and the car, creating the common

David OShea
Darrell ODonoghue

Irish perception of what a house should providefront and

back gardens, a driveway for ones car and a structure which
the owner can easily dene as his/her own. We are presenting a
hypothetical scenario which panders to these Irish demands and
suggests a fantastical vision of how Irish towns and cities may
be forced to develop should we refuse to adopt higher density
models. Vertical sprawl holds a mirror up to Irish society and
asks a number of questions, as ultimately the inhabitants of
Ireland in 2030 will determine their personal and communal
architectural landscape.

A functional and beautiful proposition: Vertical sprawl represents an exciting opportunity to effect a change in the
perception of suburbia and a chance to direct future development in a more sustainable manner. Vertical sprawl
takes already accepted typologies and arranges them vertically, close to the urban centres they serve and connected
directly to the proposed infrastructural network that will sustain them. All of the elements associated with traditional
horizontal models remain: front & back gardens, detached & semi-detached housing and direct access by car are
accommodated on plates of varying sizes arranged around a central core of interconnecting roadways. Individual
communities are encouraged and developed around a core support structure maintained by a mixture of necessary
support serviceseducational, recreational, retail and agriculturaloften overlooked in current large-scale
residential development. This self- sufcient attitude is encouraged through the development of alternative means
of energy production from a number of different sources, all based locally to each community. The more efcient
use of land available for residential development will limit the spread of urban development and ease pressure on the
surrounding countryside and associated service infrastructure. The architecture of vertical sprawl is loosely dened.
The process will begin with the initial construction of the central structure and its altering appearance will be the
result of the architectural aspirations of its inhabitants. People will be free to develop a home of their choice, ensuring
the unique image of each structure. This will aid the development of distinct communities at a controlled rate in
urban and suburban locations capable of supporting them. The mixture of uses associated with each development
will be a direct response to the needs of the area in which it is placedmixes of residential, recreational, educational
and commercial development as required. If the surrounding areas require more of one than the other, vertical sprawl
responds accordingly. In the Ireland of 2030, the skys the limit...


*All gures courtesy of VerticalSprawl Inc,

taken from their 2030 prospectus: The joys of higher living


Percentage increase in daily productivity thanks to Vertical Sprawl*

Percentage of increased happiness due to Vertical Sprawl*

Number of Irish
people, out of
ten, who prefer
Vertical Sprawl*











dominic stevens architect

Fluidcity: The ideal of the family farm, the small farmer, holds a central role in the psyche of the Irish people, so
important that the Irish Constitution states, The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing that there
may be established on the land in economic security as many families as in the circumstances shall be practicable.
(1937 Constitution, Article 45.2v). Modern society has, at least supercially, changed our expectations. Our new-found
economic prosperity has presented us with countless choices and opportunities which are now taken for granted.
The city has dominion over these opportunities, the city seems to be the place to be, urban is upwardly mobile.
Despite this lure of the city, the Irish remain fundamentally uncomfortable in the metropolis: no one wants to give
up the idea of a house and garden and this gives rise to ever-increasing suburbanisation. A suburban life means that
peoples homes, their work, schools and shops are remote from one another. In this situation a sense of community
ceases to exist. This project examines a new super-rural settlement where a soft infrastructure, the existing river
system, affords traditionally urban advantages to a linear rural settlement. It recognises the value of a rooted stable
community structure, yet understands that this can have a symbiotic relationship with contemporary, mobile and
complex needs and desires. It seeks to show that a living, productive landscape is a possibility at a time when policy
is dictating towards landscapes of nostalgia. I believe that the rural landscape must be intelligently transformed, not
preserved as a static, framed picture postcard.

Dominic Stevens

278 240,000
Length of the Shannon-Erne river
system in kilometres


Kilometres of usable shoreline


People per kilometre of river


Proposed population of river complex. Current urban population, incl Limerick, Athlone and Carrick-on-Shannon is 80,000.

Irish Constitution, Article 45.2v: The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing that there may be
established on the land in economic security as many families as in the circumstances shall be practicable.


The Shannon-Erne river system

The waterways of Irelandthe rivers, canals and lakes,
more than 1,000km in total lengthare under used.
I propose a vibrant, intensive linear settlement along the
banks of the Shannon-Erne system, which is 278 km long,
with 800 km of useable shoreline. This grand, majestic
river complex becomes a useful, sustainable infrastructure
again, a population of bank-dwellers farming the
river plain and using the river as a central artery for
The ood plains of the Shannon are known as the callows,
from caladh, meaning river meadow. They are up to 2km
wide on each side of the river. Using less than 10% of this
precious natural landscape, a new responsive architecture
will be made along the banks of the river and lakes.
Houses will rise and fall as the river swells and oods.
The unique conditions of waterside life will generate a
unique new culture of settlement, based on a 500-yearold tradition of of rural ood-plain settlement.


Population of existing towns

New SuperRural population

The River Shannon


Mobile, nimble
A moving city that appears overnight then vanishes
quietly, departing in the mist to a new location; an
ephemeral, adaptable resource, with each visit it changes
size and make up, adapting organically to the desires of
the inhabitants of this uid, linear settlement.
Though a large proportion of the new dwellings would
be in a xed position, the infrastructure of servicing
will be mobile. Instead of travelling to the city, the city
travels to you. Cinema, bank, shop, nightclub, art gallery,
museumeverything you need or enjoyplies the river,
bringing the world to your door. Electrical boats, batteries
charged with wind, solar and water turbines, constantly
on the movethe circus comes to town.



Mobile city

Market day



At present over 40% of road freight is connected to the
movement of foodfrom the land, for export (nine out
of ten cows produced in Ireland are exported), and from
abroad for our supermarket shelves. This will not be
necessary in the uidcity, where enough land for local
food production300m2 per person, which allows for nonintensive production and rotation of crops and livestock
will be set aside on the fertile river banks.

Work patterns
Repeated studies show that it is desirable to work close
to your home. This brings benets to your immediate
family and to the community at large. Children gain
understanding of what their parents do in the world
of work, and the culture of the workplace becomes more
a part of ordinary lifeworking as living, not just toil.
A thriving local economy is supported by the day-round
presence of everybody in the community.
The structure of work patterns has moved away from
centralised production in the immense factory, away
from the moving of paper up and down the corridors of
large ofce buildings. All kinds of work, from the skilled
to the unskilled, can happen in smaller, more personable
groupings. Local working, therefore, is full of opportunity
in the uidcity connected to the world: high-value items
travel quickly by internet, low-value items slowly, down
the river to the offshore seaports. A mix of types of work
during the day are of benet to general well being. In the
uidcity a part of the day can be spent on food or energy
production, though about ve hours a week is all that
would be necessary.

At present, Ireland exports agricultural produce, produced
uneconomically, relying on heavy fossil fuel use for machinery, fertilisers and feed production and then, with the
proceeds earned from these exports, we import fossil fuel.
Producing food for the global market is increasingly not
viable, where food prices decrease and energy prices rise.
The new settlement will have no need for importing
energy. Small-scale river turbines and windfarms will
provide local electricity requirements and 900m2 of
woodland per person can meet heating requirements.
Biodiesel for boats can similarly be produced on the fertile
river bank through the propagation of biomass crops.

Land use

Land use per person

Energy: 900m2
Food: 300m2

Nature and a dynamic vernacular

This new settlement on the river sits on what is in part
a sensitive natural habitat for many species of birds,
wildlife and plant life. It achieves a viable density, while
leaving a large proportion of the landscape untouched,
a potential wilderness. It seeks to understand and work
with nature, resisting our compulsive, single-minded
efforts to control water through elaborate interventions,
rather it will work with a dynamic relation between land,
water and settlement.
The approach suggests that each geographic region
can be made richer if the built is informed by the natural.
This leads to a dynamic vernacular, a built environment
that doesnt just co-exist with, but has a symbiotic
relationship with, the natural.


Along a 250m-wide strip on each side of the river, 1,200m2
per per person allows for food and energy. Each kilometre
of shoreline supports an average of 200 people, so for
the entire system which has a usable shoreline of 800 km
we have a population of 160,000, just under the current
population of Fingal or Dn Laoghaire-Rathdown.
Prefabricated sites
Floating sites are prefabricated by current techniques
using a foam core encased in concrete as a building base.
This base is tted with a translucent roof, producing
a sheltered microclimate where an outside life can be
pursued out of the rain. They are towed down the river to
their mooring position. Once in position, they slide up and
down their xing poles as the waters rise and fall.


Clustered communities
When these sites are xed in position, the dwellings and
workplaces will be built by the inhabitants, the act of
building facilitating the formation of a happy community.
These clusters would house 35 people; this is similar in
size to pre-land clearance rural settlements in Ireland, and
to a typical Parisian or Berlin apartment building. These
clusters would include both domestic and work spaces.
Each cluster is responsible for 4.2 hectares of productive
land and acts as guardian of an extensive wilderness area.


Critical mass
400 people per kilometre (both sides of river) generates
the critical mass needed for a vibrant community and
the supply of essential services like schools, doctors and
local shops. Within ten minutes in a rowing boat you have
contact with 400 people, enough to support, for example,
a small primary school. Within twenty minutes in a motor
boat you reach 2,400 individuals, enough for a secondary
Plugged in and having it all
The uidcity responds to the opportunities afforded
us by electronic communication. Catering for all those
people who can now nd a way of working away from the
traditional city, it allows them to balance that work with a
bucolic life of growing food, rearing animals and chopping
wood. It gives the farmer access to the excitement of the
city, and the urban type the benets of a relaxed outdoor
life. In modern Ireland there exists in most of us these
two, now compatible, sides.



people live per kilometer of river

people by motor boat in 20 minutes

people by rowing boat in 10 minutes



Boyd Cody Architects

Bucholz | McEvoy Architects

dePaor architects

FKL architects

Henchion+Reuter Architects

established in Dublin, 2000
established in Dublin, 1996
Merritt Bucholz b Chigago, Illinois, 1966
BArch Cornell University, 1993; MArch Princeton
University, 1995. Worked for Emilio Ambasz &
Associates, 1990-92; in the Paris ofces of James
Stewart Polshek, Ricardo Boll and Michel W Kagan,
1992-94; A&D Wejchert 1995. Inaugural Professor
of Architecture at the University of Limerick, 2005;
formerly visiting professor at Harvard University
and visiting lecturer at Princeton University, Cornell
University, UCD and DIT.
established in Dublin in 1998 by Michelle Fagan,
Paul Kelly and Gary Lysaght following collaborations
throughout the 1990s. They were founder members,
with Ralph Bingham, Tom Creed and Cliona White, of
d-Compass in 1991, jointly winning the rst Smitheld
competition in 1991 and securing 2nd prize in the
third Yokohama urban design competition, 1992. FKL
architects co-curated Practising Architecture: Five
Architectural Experiments with Patrick T Murphy,
Director of the Royal Hibernian Academy in 2004.
For individual biographies, see Curators, overleaf.
established Henchion+Reuter Architekten in Leipzig
(now in Berlin), 1994 and Henchion+Reuter Architects in
Dublin, 1998
established in New York in 1999 and relocated to
Dublin in 2001

Dermot Boyd b Belfast, 1967

DipArch DIT and BArchSc TCD, 1990. Worked for Historic
American Engineering Record, Washington, DC, 1987;
Ahrends Burton & Koralek, 1988; Alberto Campo Baeza,
1989; Scott Tallon Walker, 1990; Helm Architects, 1991;
John Pawson, 1992; Shay Cleary, 1993; McCullough
Mulvin, 1994. In private practice since 1994. Teaches
at DIT; formerly (incl visiting critic) at the AA, QUB and
UCD. President AAI, 1997-98.
dePaor ONeill Architects, established with Emma ONeill
in Dublin in 1991 and dissolved in 1994; dePaor architects
established in 1994, initially in Cork; in Dublin since 1996

Peter Cody b Tralee, 1967

DipArch DIT and BArchSc TCD, 1990; MScArch, Columbia
University (Fulbright scholar), 1996. Worked for Judge
Skelton Smith, 1987; McGarry N anaigh, 1988; Corrigan
Soundy Kilaiditi, 1989; Arthur Gibney, 1990-91; lvaro
Siza, 1992-95; Wendy Joseph, 1996-97. In private
practice since 1998. Teaches at UCD; formerly (incl
visiting critic) at DIT. President, AAI, 2000-02.
Awards and distinctions
1998 RIAI Award: Noho Loft, New York; 1998 1st Prize:
Wolfe Tone Park competition, Dublin; 2000 AAI Special
Award: Three Houses in Rathmines (as Boyd Kelly
Whelan); 2002 1st Prize: Monaghan County Council
Ofces competition; 2003 RIAI Award: Ormond Road,
Dublin; 2003 RIAI Award: Temple Cottages, Dublin;
2005 AAI Downes Medal (premier award): House at
Alma Lane, Monkstown; 2005 AAI Award: Wellington
Road, Dublin; 2005 RIAI Award: House at Alma Lane,
Monkstown; 2005 10x10_2: 100 Architects 10 Critics,
Phaidon (London & New York); 2006 AAI Award: House
at Sorrento Heights, Dalkey; 2006 RIAI Award: House at
Richmond Place, Dublin.
Project assistant
James Rossa OHare b Cork, 1980
BArch UCD, 2005

Karen McEvoy b Dublin, 1962

BArch UCD, 1984. Worked for Emilio Ambasz &
Associates, 1987-92; Polshek Salomon, 1992-94; Michael
Graves, 1994-95. Formerly visiting professor at Harvard
University and visiting lecturer at DIT and UCD.
Awards and distinctions
1996 1st Prize: Fingal County Hall competition, Swords,
Dublin (in association with BDP Dublin); 2001 RIAI
Award: Fingal County Hall; 2001 RIAI Award: Welcoming
Pavilions, Government Buildings, Dublin; 2002 Irelands
representative at the 8th International Architecture
Exhibition, Venice Biennale; 2002 RIBA Award: Fingal
County Hall; 2004 RIBA Award: Limerick County Hall,
Dooradoyle; 2004 Business Week / Architectural Record
Award: Limerick County Hall; 2004 1st Prize: Westmeath
County Hall competition; 2005 RIAI Triennial Gold Medal
1998-2000 Special Award: Fingal County Hall; 2005 RIAI
Award: SAP, Galway; 2006 RIAI Award: The Leinster
Pavilions, Dil ireann, Dublin; 2006 Chicago Athenaeum
International Architecture Award: SAP, Galway; 2006
Chicago Athenaeum International Architecture Award:
Elm Park mixed-use development, Dublin (under
construction, completion in 2007).
Project assistant
Ralf Kampe b Lower Saxonia, 1964
Dipl-Ing BUGH Wuppertall, 2000

Tom dePaor b London, 1967

BArch UCD, 1991, having previously studied at DIT.
Worked for Emilio Battisti, 1988-89; Derek Tynan,
1990; ODonnell + Tuomey, 1990. Teaches at UCD;
formerly (incl visiting critic) at the AA, University of
East London, London Metropolitan University, Bartlett
School of Architecture, University of British Columbia at
Vancouver, National College of Art and Design in Dublin
and Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology. Architect in
residence, National Sculpture Factory, Cork, 1994-96.
Awards and distinctions
1991 1st Prize: Museum Building and Landscape
competition, Royal Gunpowder Mills, Ballincollig,
Co Cork; 1993 AAI Award: Royal Gunpowder Mills,
Ballincollig; 1994 RIAI Award: Royal Gunpowder Mills,
Ballincollig; 1996 1st Prize: A13 Artscape competition,
London; 1997 AAI Award: Wallpaper House, Cork; 1997
Institute of Designers in Ireland Award: Eden Restaurant,
Dublin; 1997 RIAI Triennial Gold Medal 1992-94 shortlist:
Royal Gunpowder Mills, Ballincollig; 2000 RIAI Award:
VAN, National Sculpture Factory, Cork; 2000 Irelands
representative at the 7th International Architecture
Exhibition, Venice Biennale; 2001 AAI Award: N3,
Irelands rst temporary pavilion at the Venice Biennale;
2001 New Trends of Architecture in Europe and Japan,
curated by lvaro Siza, Wiel Arets and Fumihiko Maki;
2003 Corus / Building Design Young Architect of the
Year; 2004 AAI Award: Utility Building, Vernon Avenue,
Clontarf, Dublin; 2004 RIAI Award: Utility Building,
Vernon Avenue, Clontarf, Dublin; 2005 10x10_2: 100
Architects 10 Critics, Phaidon (London & New York).
Selected Publications
2001 N3, with texts by Peter Noever and Raymund Ryan.
isbn 09540422-0-4
Project assistant
Anna Hofheinz b Bad Mergentheim, 1982
Graduating from TU Stuttgart in 2007, having also
previously studied architecture at TU Delft


AA The Architectural Association, London
AAI Architectural Association of Ireland
DIT Dublin Institute of Technology
QUB Queens University Belfast
RIAI Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland
TCD Trinity College Dublin
UCD University College Dublin, National University of Ireland

Awards and distinctions

2000 AAI Special Award: Three Houses in Rathmines (as
Boyd Kelly Whelan); 2002 RIAI Award: Silicon & Software
Systems, Dublin; 2002 RIAI Award: The S House, Co
Wicklow; 2002 1st Prize: Martin Valley Sculpture Park
competition, Co Cork; 2003 AAI Award: Baldoyle Library
and Local Authority Ofces; 2004 AAI Award: Brick
House, Milltown, Dublin; 2004 RIAI Award: Baldoyle
Library and Local Authority Ofces; 2004 RIAI Award:
Apartment, North Great Georges Street, Dublin; 2005
RIAI Award: Extension, St James Terrace, Dublin
Selected Publications
2002 FKL architects: S3, monograph on Silicon &
Software Systems, with texts by Dermot Boyd and
Jonathan Sergison. ISBN 0-9543317-0-2
2004 Practising Architecture: Five Architectural
Experiments, exhibition catalogue with texts by Patrick T
Murphy and FKL architects. isbn 1-903875-15-3
Project assistants
Luis Aguirre Manso b Zamora, 1980
ETS Arquitectura, University of Valladolid, 2006
Michael Bannon b Dublin 1979
Graduating BArch DIT, 2007
Jeff Bolhuis b Leidschendam, 1980
MSc Architecture TU Delft, 2005
Deirdre Brophy b Dublin, 1980
Graduating BArch UCD, 2008
Dara Burke b Dublin, 1980
BArch DIT, 2004
Miriam Delaney b Portlaoise, 1979
BArch UCD, 2003
Andrew Grifn b Dublin 1983
Graduating BArch DIT 2007
Laurence Lord b Dublin, 1980
BArch DIT, 2006
Donncha O Shea b Dublin 1978
BA TCD 2001; graduating BArch DIT, 2008
Tara Quinn b Donegal 1985
Graduating BArch DIT, 2008

Martin Henchion b Cork, 1967

BArch UCD 1991. Worked for Gerry Cahill, 1991-92;
Raupach und Schurck, 1992-94. Teaches at the University
of Limerick; formely at UCD.
Klaus Reuter b Bonn, 1964
Dipl-Ing Architekt FH Mnchen, 1991. Worked for
Behnisch und Sabatke, 1991-92; Raupach und Schurck,
Awards and distinctions
1995 1st Prize: Afrikahaus, Zoological Gardens, Dresden
(in association with Architekturbro Mayer+Klsch,
Leipzig); 1997 1st Prize: Naumdorfchen Theatre,
Leipzig; 1999 AAI Award: Haus am Zoo, Leipzig; 1999
RIAI Award: Haus am Zoo, Leipzig; 2001 AAI Award:
Millennium Tower, Stranorlar, Co Donegal; 2004 RIAI
Best Building in the Landscape Award: Stone House, Co
Wicklow; 2004 RIAI Award: Sports and Youth Services
Centre, Cabra, Dublin; 2004 RIAI Award: Riding (Therapy)
Centre, Biburg; 2004 1st Prize: Housing at Plochingen
competition; 2004 1st Prize: Footbridge at Laufen
competition; 2005 AAI Award: Youth and Community
Centre, Donore Avenue, Dublin; 2005 RIAI Award: Youth
and Community Centre, Donore Avenue, Dublin.
Project assistants
Olaf Behrens b Berlin, 1976
Dipl-Ing Architekt Bauhaus-Universitt Weimar, 2005
Michael Robert Conroy b Dublin, 1974
BArch UCD, 1997
Trine Kobbelvedt b Copenhagen, 1975
Cand.arch Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts,
Copenhagen, 2006
Mary ONeill b Wexford, 1981
BArch UCD, 2004
Werner Weidenberg b Sittard, 1969
Dipl-Ing Architekt FH Oldenburg

Risn Heneghan b Belmullet, 1963

BArch UCD 1987; MArch Harvard University, 1992.
Worked for Michael Graves in Princeton, 1991-96, and
New York, 1996-2001. Teaches at UCD; formerly design
studio tutor at Cornell University and visiting critic at
Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania
in Philadelphia and the AA. Jury member, Canadian
Museum of Human Rights competition, 2004 and RIAI
Triennial Gold Medal, 2005.
Shi-Fu Peng b New York, 1966
BArch Cornell University, 1989; MArch Harvard
University, 1992 (and 1992 Clifford Wong Prize in
Housing). Worked for Michael Graves, Princeton,
1991-96; Skidmore Owings and Merrill, New York, 19962001. Teaches at UCD; formerly design studio tutor at
Cornell University and visiting critic at the University of
Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and the AA.
Awards and distinctions
1994 Winner, competition for reuse of Central Park
Reservoir, New York; 1997 Winner, Bigfoot football
stadium competition, Los Angeles; 1999 Winner,
Architectural League of New Yorks Young Architects
Forum; 2000 1st Prize: ras Cill Dara, Devoy Park,
Naas competition (in association with Arthur Gibney
& Partners); 2001 AIA NY Chapter Design Award:
Dept of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands
HQ competition, Dublin; 2003 1st Prize: Grand
Egyptian Museum, Giza, Cairo; 2003 1st Prize: Hotel
competition, Kilternan, Dublin; 2004 1st Prize: Carlisle
Pier competition, Dun Laoghaire; 2004 Metamorph, 9th
International Architecture Exhibition, Venice Biennale
(Carlisle Pier); 2005 The Flood, 2nd International
Architecture Biennale, Rotterdam (Big Foot); 2005 1st
Prize: Giants Causeway Visitor Centre competition,
Co Antrim; 2006 RIAI Award: ras Cill Dara, Devoy
Park, Naas; 2006 RIBA Award: ras Cill Dara, Devoy
Park, Naas; 2006 Winner, Mountjoy Urban Village
competition, Dublin; 2006 Included in Fast Companys
Fast 50 list of global gures who are writing the
history of the next 10 years.
Project assistants
Emer ODaly b Dublin, 1978
BArch UCD, 2004
Kathryn Stutts b Durham, North Carolina, 1981
BS Arch University of Virginia in Charlottesville, 2003.
Graduating MArch Yale, 2008



MacGabhann Architects

ODOS architects

dominic stevens architect
established in Letterkenny in 1975 by Antoin
MacGabhann, father of the current directors, and
expanded in 1997 following the return to Ireland of
Antoin and Tarla from Glasgow and Berlin
established in Dublin, 2002

established in Dublin in 1995

and relocated to Cloone, Co Leitrim in 1999

Darrell ODonoghue b Galway, 1974

DipArch DIT and BArchSc TCD, 1998. Worked for Brian
OConnell, 1996-97; Peter Cody, 1998; Hassett Ducatez,
1999-2001; Douglas Wallace, 2001; Ahrends Burton &
Koralek, 2001-02.

Dominic Stevens b London, 1965

BArch UCD, 1989. Worked for Christoph Langhof and
Leipe Stegelmann, Berlin, 1989-1995. Has taught at UCD.
Architect-in-residence, Roscommon County Council,
2005: Making Houses in Rural Ireland. Editor of
Building Material, the journal of the AAI, 1999-2000.

Tarla MacGabhann b Donegal, 1965

BA DipArch Bartlett School of Architecture, University of
London, 1991, having studied previously at Letterkenny
Regional Technical College and Thames College, London.
Worked for Daniel Libeskind as senior architect on
the Jewish Museum, Berlin, 1991-96. Teaches at QUB;
visiting critic in Ireland, Britain and Germany.
Antoin MacGabhann b Donegal, 1967
BA BAI civil engineering TCD, 1988; MBA University of
Strathclyde, Glasgow, 1995. Worked for WS Atkins in
London as chartered engineer and Bovis Construction
in Glasgow as senior manager. Visiting lecturer at
Letterkenny Institute of Technology.
Awards and distinctions
2003 AAI Award: Local Administrative Ofce,
Letterkenny, Co Donegal; 2003 RIAI Award: Local
Administrative Ofce, Letterkenny; 2003 RIAI Best
Building in the Landscape Award: Carton LeVert House,
Co Donegal; 2005 AJ Small Projects Award: Greenbox
Project assistants
Jan Kaluza b Cracow, 1981
MA Architecture Cracow University of Technology, 2005
Niels Merschbrock b Mnster, 1969
Dipl-Ing Architekt University of Applied Science,
Aachen, 2001
Tanja Nopens b Frankfurt, 1973
Dipl-Ing Architekt University of Applied Science,
Aachen, 2005
Conor Moloney
Tobias Schmitz, Designbrauerei
Noel Fallon, Pressure Hydraulics

David OShea b Dublin, 1971

DipArchTech DIT, 1992; BA Arch University of Liverpool,
1994; DipArch DIT and BArchSc TCD, 1998. Worked
for Ahrends Burton & Koralek in London and Dublin,
1994-97; Sheppard Robson, 1996; McGarry N anaigh,
1998-2001; Douglas Wallace, 2001-02. Teaches at DIT.
Awards and distinctions
2006 AAI Award: 13a Thor Place, Stoneybatter, Dublin.
BrenB b 1974
An award-winning cartoonist and illustrator currently
based in Dublin. After graduating from art college with
a degree in Fine Arts in 1995, he moved to Kln, where
his comics were rst published in RAYZOR magazine. He
returned to Ireland in 1998 and self-published the comic
anthology, Toenail Clippings. Issue 4 was nominated for
best self-published comic at the International Comics
Festival in Angolueme, France, in 2000. His work now
regularly appears in magazines, comic anthologies
and on CD covers throughout Europe. He exhibits
internationally as part of the CANDY collective.

Awards and distinctions

1999 AAI Award: Domestic Acupuncture; 2005 Arts
Council / Ofce of Public Works: Kevin Kieran Award,
a research bursary worth 50,000.
Selected Publications
1999 Domestic, an approach to the design of domestic
buildings. Mermaid Turbulence isbn 1-901776-99-9
2001 Drawing by Hand, in Element, Mermaid Turbulence
2003 What Becomes of Rural Ireland? in Irish Review,
Cork University Press
2005 Neo Rural Architecture in Building Material 13,

Shane OToole

Michelle Fagan FKL architects


Inaugural curator/director of the Irish Architecture

Foundation, Shane OToole was born in Dublin in 1955.
He was a founding director of urban design collective
Group 91 Architects before joining Tegral, where he
has been company architect since 1994. He is a past
President of the AAI, was co-founder of Docomomo
International at Eindhoven in 1990 and is, since 1999,
Irish architecture critic for The Sunday Times. He was
Irelands Commissioner for Metamorph, the Venice
Biennales 9th International Architecture Exhibition in
2002, and a member of the jury for the Mies van der
Rohe Award for European Architecture in 2003. He is
a Fellow of the Salzburg Seminar. Mr OToole won the
Grand Prix at the Cracow Architecture Biennale in 1989
for Collaboration: The Pillar Project. He was a nalist in
the Mies van der Rohe Award in 1996 and was awarded
the UIAs Sir Patrick Abercrombie Prize in 2002 for Group
91s redevelopment of Temple Bar, Dublin. He won the
AAIs Downes Medal and received a high commendation
in the RIAIs Triennial Gold Medal for The Ark (Temple
Bar, 1995), Europes rst cultural centre for children,
designed with Michael Kelly and Susan Cogan.

Michelle Fagan DipArch BArchSc MRIAI RIBA was born in

Dublin in 1966 and graduated from Bolton Street, Dublin
Institute of Technology, in 1990. After working in Dublin
she worked in Frankfurt and Berlin for Rhode Kellerman
Wawrowsky (1993-95), OM Ungers and Arge Hoger
Hare/RKW (1995-97). She worked for Ahrends Burton
& Koralek in Dublin before establishing FKL architects
in 1998 with Paul Kelly and Gary Lysaght. Ms Fagan has
taught at DIT and UCD and was selected for the AJ /
Corus 40 under 40 exhibition at the V&A in London in

Ciarn Gaora
Deputy Commissioner
Ciarn Gaora BDes (VisCom) ANCAD was born in Dublin
in 1967 and graduated from the National College of Art
and Design with a rst class honors degree in Visual
Communications in 1991. After working in Rotterdam
with Proforma (199295) he returned to Ireland to
work with Designworks. He became a partner and
creative director of the practice in 1997. In 2003 he
left Designworks to establish Zero-G. Mr Gaora has
taught at the Institute of Art, Design & Technology and
has lectured at NCAD, DIT and the Royal Academy in
The Hague. He is director of design with Touchstone
Healthcare Group; a director of the Corn Exchange
Theatre Company; and a director of SEEDartscience.

Paul Kelly FKL architects

Paul Kelly DipArchTech DipArch BArchSc MRIAI RIBA was
born in Dublin in 1964 and graduated from Bolton Street,
Dublin Institute of Technology, with a rst class honours
degree in 1990. After working in London for Corrigan
Soundy Kilaiditi (1989-90), he returned to work in Ireland
for McGarry N anaigh (1990-98) and OMahony Pike
(1998). He established FKL architects in 1998 with
Michelle Fagan and Gary Lysaght. Mr Kelly teaches at
DIT and has taught at UCD. He was President of the AAI
in 1996-97 and Deputy Commissioner of Irelands entry
at the 9th International Architecture Exhibition, Venice
Biennale, 2004. He represented Ireland at the second
Young European Architects Forum in Rotterdam in 2005
and is a member of the editorial board of Architecture

Gary Lysaght FKL architects

Gary Lysaght DipArch BArchSc MRIAI was born in Cork in
1965 and graduated from Bolton Street, Dublin Institute
of Technology, in 1990. After working in Dublin and
Frankfurt, he returned to Dublin, where he worked for
Derek Tynan (1997-98) and Urban Projects (1998). He
established FKL architects in 1998 with Michelle Fagan
and Paul Kelly. Mr Lysaght has taught at DIT and UCD
and represented Ireland at the rst Young European
Architects Forum in Antwerp in 2002.

Constantin Gurdgiev
Dr Constantin Gurdgiev was born in Moscow in 1970.
He is the Editor of Business&Finance, Irelands largest
business publication, a Lecturer in Economics at
University College Dublin and a Research Associate at
the Institute for International Integration Studies, Trinity
College, Dublin. He is also a Founder and Academic
Director of the Open Republic Institute
www.openrepublic.orgIrelands only independent
economic and social policy think-tank, for whom he edits
the quarterly Open Republic magazine and co-edits the
weekly Policy Watch newsletter.
He is a Member of the Academy of Political
Science, the American Economic Association and the
American Finance Association. Dr. Gurdgiev holds
a PhD in Macroeconomics and Finance from Trinity
College, Dublin, an MA in Economics from Johns
Hopkins University and an MA in Pure Mathematics
from the University of California, Los Angeles. Prior to
joining University College Dublin, Dr. Gurdgiev taught
economics and mathematics at Trinity College, Dublin
and Johns Hopkins University.

Frank McDonald
Frank McDonald was born in Dublin in 1950 and lives in
Temple Bar. Educated at St Vincents CBS Glasnevin and
UCD, he is Environment Editor of The Irish Times, having
been the newspapers Environment Correspondent
since 1986. He has won several awards, including one
for Outstanding Work in Irish Journalism for a series of
articles in 1979 entitled Dublin - What Went Wrong?.
In 1988 he won a Lord Mayors Millennium Medal for
his work in highlighting the architecture of Dublin.
He is author of The Destruction of Dublin (1985) and
Saving the City (1989), two books that helped to change
public policy on urban renewal. His third book, The
Construction of Dublin (2000), became a non-ction
bestseller. He is also joint author with James Nix of
Chaos at the Crossroads (2005), a book documenting the
environmental destruction of Ireland.

Jennifer Keegan
Jennifer Keegan was born in Dublin in 1966 and studied
French and Spanish at TCD, graduating in 1988. After a
year in Madrid, she worked in London at Vogue before
returning to Dublin in 1993 to present RTEs fashion
programme, Head to Toe. In 1998, she moved into
independent lmmaking; her rst documentary, Real
Men Dont Wear Togs, won a Premio Ondas in 1999 at
Spains equivalent of the Baftas. She produced a trilogy
of visual documentaries about the changing face of
Dublin for TG4 in 2000 and 2001. Her rst drama, Cake
(2002), starring Brendan Gleeson, was awarded an IFTA
for best short and a special mention at the Cork Film



Photographic credits

Commissioners acknowledgements

Design & production

Zero-G, Ciarn Gaora & Joe Coll,
assisted by Ross Harrington

Except where otherwise credited,

images are either copyright of
the individual architects or public
domain. Klaus D Franckes aerial
photograph on page 24 appears
with the permission of Dewi Lewis,
publisher of Ireland: Aerial
Photographs (1999). The aerial
photograph of Tory Island on page
110 is by Aerolm. Photography
Services supplied the base image for
the illustration on page 69.
The top left image on page 21 is
taken from Bellamys Ireland: the
wild boglands (Country House,
1986). Pfeiffer Studios image of
milled peat harvesters in operation
near Edgeworthstown, Co Longford
(top right, page 21) and the Dublin
Opinion cartoon, Dividing up the
estate or the Land Commission goes
crazy, (bottom right, page 34) are
taken from Atlas of the Irish Rural
Landscape (Cork University Press,

The Arts Council/An Chomhairle

Ealaon: Diego Fasciati
La Biennale di Venezia:
Roberto Rosolen, Renato Quaglia
La Biennale di Venezia Servizi spa:
Manuela Luc Dazio, Cristiano
Frizzele, Massimiliano Bigarello
British Council: Emily Campbell,
Catherine Ince, Jeremy Till
The Courtyard Studio: John Gleeson
Culture Ireland: Mary McCarthy,
Christine Sisk, Ruth Gibney
LSE: Ricky Burdett, Sarah Ichioka
Tom dePaor
Terry Devey
Embassy of Ireland, Rome:
Susan Conlon
Irish Architecture Foundation:
Antoinette ONeill, Maeve ONeill,
Charlie Pike
Alan Mee
Oikos Builders Ltd: David Coyne,
Graham Whelan, Zbynek Hahn,
Chris White (Acrewood), Paul Gray
(Mc&M Painters)
RIAI: John Graby, James Pike
Michael Ross
Tegral: Paddy Kelly, George Robinson
Zero-G: Karen Price, Alan Davis

Shane OToole
Assistant Editor
Emily Mark FitzGerald
Impress Printing Works
HannoArt, McNaughton Paper
Dolly (Underware)
Section (Lux Typographics)

Every effort has been made to trace

copyright holders of images used.
The publisher will be happy to correct
mistakes or omissions in future