Paving in Dublin city centre
Madam, – Elaine Howley, of the National Council for the Blind of Ireland, understandably highlights mobility concerns of the visually-impaired in the urban environment (July 31st). Any considerate society addresses these needs in a balanced and sympathetic manner, taking account of the requirements of both the individual and any special sensitivities the host context may have.
In the case of College Green, authorities were dealing with historic paving in the most architecturally important urban and civic ensemble in the State – one of the few spaces in Dublin of true European significance. This is a highly sensitive conservation area which demands the very best in design skills and craftsmanship.
English Heritage has outlined a number of ways of dealing with tactile paving in such contexts, stating: “Historic areas are more sensitive to the colour and types of paving used, so the standard red and buff-coloured concrete blistered paviors can often be inappropriate for their surroundings, being in close proximity to buildings of special architectural and historical interest. A sensitive interpretation of the guidance which incorporates both human and environmental needs is required.”
In spite of tactile paving not seemingly being required outside the bank, featuring two minor driveways in a pavement where the visually-impaired have right of way, a number of sensitive options were still available for consideration outside Trinity College. These include the recommended use of brass studs set into the paving or specially textured slabs of contrasting natural stone. In any event, the net benefit of this tactile paving has been cancelled out by the mind-numbing array of newly installed municipal clutter on College Green, which generates unnecessary obstruction for the visually-impaired, as well as markedly degrades the aesthetic quality of the capital’s flagship civic space.
Henry Grattan and Thomas Moore on College Street now stand in pools of tarmac, while both are surrounded by enough poles and traffic signal boxes to wade through the visual chaos like a Venetian gondola. A deliberate Continental design reference no doubt. The magnificent long-lost vista of James Gandon’s former House of Lords portico from College Street also remains concealed by a forest of scrawny trees, a situation that could have been corrected as part of the Bus Gate works. – Yours, etc,