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Why is so much of the Irish built environment so ugly?

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  • 23-07-2011 4:51pm
    #1
    Closed Accounts Posts: 364 ✭✭


    Granted we have some nice buildings in historical areas in cities and some towns, nobody would deny that, but for the most part – why is the Irish built environment so horrible and bleak? Whether trekking through rural Ireland, or the vast suburban expanses of our cities, everything from building layout, to the use of materials just comes across as tacky with little beauty, and where builders have put up houses, such as in the vast housing estates throughout the 90s and 2000s, most seem built cheaply and meanly with little emphasis on homeliness or design, even where people forked out 300-500,000 for their homes.

    Having just returned from Switzerland, while they have indeed ugly buildings like any country, it is no way the majority of the built environment. So what is up with Ireland and ugly and/ or tacky buildings and built environments. Doesn’t anybody find these places depressing – particularly the vast, empty feeling housing estates throwin up by developers for nearly two decades, and wish for something more?


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Comments

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,350 ✭✭✭gigino


    Good point. As a continental visitor said to me recently, any nice buildings there are in the country the British built for us before they left.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,571 ✭✭✭7sr2z3fely84g5


    We couldnt had built houses fast enough,funniest was after the boom was over they decided to bring in law forbidding building in flood risk areas :rolleyes:

    Also there would had being many objections to bring multi national retailers like ASDA to come to ireland but yet no objection to building houses in the most stupidest places known to man.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 88,978 ✭✭✭✭mike65


    Some of the worst planning regulations in the developed world, corruption, relative poverty, 800 years (have to stick that one for the usual suspects).


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 6,084 ✭✭✭oppenheimer1


    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. While I won't argue that there is some awful architecture out there, there are multiple reasons for it. Our colonial past has much to do with it. While Dublin was the second city of the empire, architecture flourished but post that period building and architecture went into decline... Many of the states neo classical fine buildings were built before the act of union. In other instances they were funded semi-directly by the british. Private and public wealth didn't exist up until recently to fund pretty buildings really. Many of the large buildings constructed in the boom are quite nice, particularly the civic ones. Have a look at the decentralised offices for the government around the country, little expense was spared in their consrtuction.

    Irelands built heritage suffers from its past which for the most part was poor. Poor places build functional structures that are rarely aesthetically pleasing. As for the monotonous estates, thats just down to bad planning and greed.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,507 ✭✭✭Downlinz


    dilbert2 wrote: »
    where builders have put up houses, such as in the vast housing estates throughout the 90s and 2000s, most seem built cheaply and meanly with little emphasis on homeliness or design, even where people forked out 300-500,000 for their homes.

    Why did they do this? Because people were willing to pay 300-500k for a house the contractors had built hundreds of time before with no unique features or architectural challenges. In switzerland the market looks for more character in their houses and decorate it better as well.

    As to why that is I'd argue its down to such a shifting population because of a history of mass emigration, mass immigration and urban sprawl. The number of long standing family homes is low in Ireland, with a view of houses not being for life theres far less interest in putting the effort in.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,463 ✭✭✭Solnskaya


    Simply put, it comes down to money. It's much quicker to throw up a square box with a roof and get it opened and doing business as quickly as possible. To build using attractive(and that usually means traditional)materials is slow and expensive and so whatever your building won't be open or occupied for a loooong time until finished. The bankster funding the development want it thrown up, open and bringing in either rent or cashflow asap so the borrowed capital starts getting repayed.
    Imagine heading into the bank-"I've a great idea, I want to build a cut stone and mullioned traditional style building to house my new business, it will take ten years to complete and cost about €10 million at least_hows that idea grab you Mr bank manager".


  • Registered Users Posts: 794 ✭✭✭Redlion


    Go visit some of the urban areas of Poland, South Africa, Los Angeles etc.. and come back with a new definition of "bleak" and "horrible".


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 88,978 ✭✭✭✭mike65


    Also a huge amount of the built environment in Ireland was thrown together in two distinct phases - the 50/60s with its usually hideous "brutalist" ethic and the so called Celtic Tiger when sheer speed was the first concern.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,676 ✭✭✭dr gonzo


    gigino wrote: »
    Good point. As a continental visitor said to me recently, any nice buildings there are in the country the British built for us before they left.

    I can understand that it might appear that way but its not true really. For example theres a number of highly regarded Irish palladian buildings that were designed by Irish architects, such as the houses of parliament (now BoI) college green which was designed by Edward Lovatt Pearce.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 867 ✭✭✭Mr. Denton


    All the best buildings in Ireland were built under British Rule.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 794 ✭✭✭Redlion


    Mr. Denton wrote: »
    All the best buildings in Ireland were built under British Rule.
    Personally, I beg to differ.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 867 ✭✭✭Mr. Denton


    Redlion wrote: »

    You were going well until you included the white elephant in Dublin 4.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 11,582 ✭✭✭✭TheZohanS


    Redlion wrote: »

    Victoria Square...hmm...Belfast.


  • Registered Users Posts: 794 ✭✭✭Redlion


    Mr. Denton wrote: »
    You were going well until you included the white elephant in Dublin 4.
    Having worked there, it's hard not to appreciate the architecture of the place. It's been built to such a high standard. The growing number of awards its been receiving in the past year prove that.
    TheZohan wrote: »
    Victoria Square...hmm...Belfast.
    Damn, I've been outed!


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,378 ✭✭✭Duffy the Vampire Slayer


    I've said it before and I'll say it again, Ireland is in no way a particularly attractive or scenic nation.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,576 ✭✭✭patneve2


    Agree with the OP. The built environment in Ireland is of an extremely low standard. Cheapness, tackiness and bad taste is rampant (with some exceptions though). It's quite understandable though, Ireland was isolated for such a long time so ideas definitely weren't whizzing around the place as they were on the Continent (loads of nations grouped together=more ideas being exchanged and spread around). I really can't see how people can defend the Irish Built Environment, the truth is that it's of a very low standard (and as said before there as some exceptions).


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 5,783 ✭✭✭Hank_Jones


    I would think the housing developments built during the Celtic Tiger are generally shoddy.

    Taking the Ballymun regeneration as an example, which (I'll stand corrected) is said to have cost €900 million and looks terrible.

    Was driving through it for the first time in a few years a while back and it looks grotty, a lot of the new buildings look filthy and run down.

    All to do with builders cutting corners me thinks.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 4,556 ✭✭✭Nolanger


    dilbert2 wrote: »
    So what is up with Ireland and ugly and/ or tacky buildings and built environments.
    Ugly buildings for ugly people.


  • Moderators, Computer Games Moderators Posts: 7,941 Mod ✭✭✭✭Yakult


    I agree OP. I always think the same when I'm driving around. Such laziness and lack of organization.
    I've said it before and I'll say it again, Ireland is in no way a particularly attractive or scenic nation.

    Could not disagree with you more.
    Cant speak for anywhere else in Ireland but come to Kerry and I'll show you attractive/scenic area's that most people don't even know about.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 21,191 ✭✭✭✭Latchy


    I've said it before and I'll say it again, Ireland is in no way a particularly attractive or scenic nation.
    It has it's scenery that's attributed to nature which unlike it's ugly buildings is not man made .


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,583 ✭✭✭mconigol


    Boards needs an Ireland Bashing forum.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,576 ✭✭✭patneve2


    Latchy wrote: »
    It has it's scenery that's attributed to nature which unlike it's ugly buildings is not man made .

    You're right there but a lot of beauty in Ireland is actually man made. Theoretically Ireland would be an overgrown forest if humans never had an impact on the environment. Farming and grazing etc is the only reason Ireland is so green and has lovely flowing valleys etc...At the same time though Cliffs of Moher Ring of Kerry etc... are obviously all beautiful products of nature


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,007 ✭✭✭Mance Rayder


    It's this move towards the "modern" thats ruining Irish architectures classical beauty. What I would like to know is who the hell commisioned this:
    Sean O'Casey Community Centre

    http://www.ddda.ie/files/newsevents/images/20090206110910_0851-07.JPG

    Its ugly and does nothing for the appearance of East wall. I wish the council would keep the experimental architecture to themselves and not force it upon residents. Compare that dodgey cheese building to the nearby Sheriff st Church (Dont know actual name) http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4005/4610226780_e74d6696e3.jpg , Its a stunning building.

    Ireland should play up to it's neo-classical and historical buildings by keeping with this style.

    Ballymun regeneration is ugly, although a damn site better then it was before.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,832 ✭✭✭NufcNavan


    I've said it before and I'll say it again, Ireland is in no way a particularly attractive or scenic nation.
    Well that just means you're wrong, twice.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 6,388 ✭✭✭gbee


    I would not exactly agree that they are ugly, cheap, glaringly, nasty too many reports of problems, seems endemic, nasty seems proven.

    Ugly no, not really, it's just that every block in every town city village cross road all look the same now. Erm, many ugly was the right word!


  • Registered Users Posts: 34,788 ✭✭✭✭krudler


    come to Limerick, where Brown Thomas on O'Connell St is the ugliest building in Ireland, its like something from 70's Soviet Russia


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 867 ✭✭✭Mr. Denton


    It's this move towards the "modern" thats ruining Irish architectures classical beauty. What I would like to know is who the hell commisioned this:
    Sean O'Casey Community Centre

    http://www.ddda.ie/files/newsevents/images/20090206110910_0851-07.JPG
    That's absolutely horrible. The pix doesn't even do it justice. Check streetview to see what a mess it is.

    http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Sean+O'Casey+Community+Centre,+Dublin,+Ireland&hl=en&ll=53.352844,-6.234097&spn=0,0.011362&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=46.812293,93.076172&t=h&z=17&layer=c&cbll=53.352778,-6.23395&panoid=iWcI8MWjswnoSh7tFZvxdg&cbp=12,347.35,,0,-19.24


  • Registered Users Posts: 13,983 ✭✭✭✭Cuddlesworth


    Hank_Jones wrote: »
    I would think the housing developments built during the Celtic Tiger are generally shoddy.

    Taking the Ballymun regeneration as an example, which (I'll stand corrected) is said to have cost €900 million and looks terrible.

    Was driving through it for the first time in a few years a while back and it looks grotty, a lot of the new buildings look filthy and run down.

    All to do with builders cutting corners me thinks.

    Having worked on three of those estates I can safely say there were no corners cut. The estates were built of a much higher standard then any others I worked on, great use of space and light with a relatively low density compared to other sites I was on at the time. Perks like cobblestone streets, proper joinery made high quality wooden windows and outside touches like good two and three tone material and colour finishing with solid fencing.

    They were beautiful pieces of work right up until the Ballymun people moved in. Although a lucky few managed to get into the fringe estates which avoided the worst of the attitude.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 6,388 ✭✭✭gbee


    Those were truly fantastic flats. I was privileged to when new. My brother's wife from Inchicore and some of her family moved into one of those tower blocks.

    It was amazing, the facilities were space age ~ in the recent Celtic tiger they'd have sold for two million each.

    I never understood who these flats were given away.

    One of those towers was not destroyed though, it popped up in Cork and is called the Elysian. €300,000 for a one bed pad? Luxury and local government just gave similar AWAY????????????


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 458 ✭✭Boxoffrogs


    I think Ireland is a beautiful country naturally. Our coastline, particularly to the west is just stunning. We have fantastic cities with some outstanding architecture. I do prefer the buildings of old though. I'm not to fond of too much glass and chrome anywhere outside of office buildings. However all that I could live with.

    For me the real eye sores are the kinds of developments which pop up whenever a council has any involvement, i.e. community centres, leisure centres, social housing. From what we know, top dollar is paid to build all these and yet they look hideous. They literally scream COUNCIL. Usually tacky looking, a mess of glass and metal, and colours that make your head spin. There is a place between Lucan and Clondalkin, whenever I'm driving by it, I can't look any more, it's that hideous.


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