Great cities are where people want to rear families - architect

Mon, Sep 10, 2012, 01:00

GREAT CITIES are places where “people want to live with their families”, Dublin’s city architect Ali Grehan told some 2,000 people at the TEDxDublin event this weekend.

She said while Dublin was a very dynamic city, a city should be about more than places to work and shop, and should be somewhere people want to bring up families.

She was one of 15 people at the day of talks on the theme of Dublin: a City of Ideas organised by the Science Gallery in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre.

There was a lack of opportunities for people to put down roots in the city centre, she said. She outlined a project which would allow people to design their own city-centre apartments, take ownership of the city centre and have a “real choice” to raise their children there.

Another vision to make the city better to live in was presented by Fergal McCarthy, a visual artist who last year lived on an artificial desert island in the Liffey for a week. His idea was for an 8km linear park or walkway along the Liffey quays stretching from Heuston Station to the IFSC occupying the space of the footpaths and one traffic lane. This would make the Liffey a “world class must-see” attraction.

Former Dubliner publisher Trevor White’s vision was for Dublin to be rebranded as the “friendliest city in the world”. More than 90 per cent of tourists cited friendly people as the highlight of their visit to Dublin, with everybody seeing this in the city “except us”, said Mr White, who set up the City of a Thousand Welcomes initiative for tourists.

Comedian Maeve Higgins brought the audience through a virtual tour of the Wicklow Street area, where she spends much of her time. The tour went from the “paradise birds” at the Brown Thomas Mac make-up counter to the “handsomest man in Dublin” working in one of the street’s bistros.

Why the experience of living in cities changes people’s brains was outlined by professor of psychology at Trinity College Dublin Ian Robertson. People go to cities for success and “success makes us feel better and a bit smarter” by producing dopamine in the brain.

This was the sixth and largest TEDx event to be held in Dublin.

TEDx events are held globally and are independent of but receive guidance from the world famous TED conferences which have the remit of disseminating “ideas worth sharing”.