Remaking Dublin

Combatting dereliction and bad design

Sir, – Coming from an industrial design background, I would like to share an idea that is important for urban planning and architecture. David Pye, an English educator and craftsman, expressed the notion that design adds a dimension to a product that makes it matter more to the user than mere function and material ends. The loveliest urban areas in Dublin reach that goal – we cherish them and barely think about the fact they are brick boxes for work and living.

Urban planners today do not get any further than function. It is in their power and their responsibility to shape the environment people live in. They don’t apply anything like Pye’s moral demand for convivial forms. Why is this? A restaurant as indifferent to taste as planners are to aesthetics would fail.

While a lot of attention is given to the sorry state of Dublin city centre, the rest of Dublin is neglected entirely. Almost none of 20th- and 21st-century Dublin consists of places meeting Pye’s criteria for design. Containers for humans and space for their cars and roads to join it all up – that is the short description of the urban spaces handed over to citizens.

As much as the city centre urgently needs more care, suburban Dublin also needs to be designed for humans to enjoy. The same spirit that drives the demand for a fine city centre ought to be applied to the rest of Dublin’s sprawling expanse. – Yours, etc,



Associate Professor,

Industrial Design,

Design School Kolding,



Sir, – Regarding Michael McDowell’s piece on the disastrous dereliction of Dublin city (Opinion & Analysis, September 27th), there is one area worthy of mention in Dublin City Council’s favour. As a commuter who travelled for many years through the mess that was Francis Street (with the fine St Nicholas of Myra church at its centre), I have at last seen the street transformed with trees, new pavements, a hotel and now hope for the restoration of a market for the south of the city. This is just one area where Dublin City Council has shown how a street can be totally altered, to the delight of those who live and work in the Liberties and the rest of us who visit. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 4.

Sir, – A thousand thanks to Michael McDowell for his critique of Dublin City Council. The creation of a massive traffic jam at the junction of three main arteries in Fairview is further proof, if proof were needed, of the incompetence of the council. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 3.