Michael McDowell: Our cities need huge planned, aesthetically pleasing redevelopment

Open space doesn't equate to beautiful urban landscape: Awful mistakes have been made, such as Smithfield and Newmarket

Areas of Georgian Dublin such as Fitzwilliam Square were not simply random patchworks of individual plot developments, but  carefully controlled streetscapes and building types decided on by the great developers, including the Wide Street Commissioners, the Gardiner Estate and the Pembroke Estate. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Areas of Georgian Dublin such as Fitzwilliam Square were not simply random patchworks of individual plot developments, but carefully controlled streetscapes and building types decided on by the great developers, including the Wide Street Commissioners, the Gardiner Estate and the Pembroke Estate. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

One of the least debated and perhaps most important issues confronting Ireland in the 21st century is that of planning our built environment. For the last century and a half, our urban areas and in particular our built-up city areas have been allowed to develop in a haphazard, often ugly and unplanned way.

When you consider the parts of Dublin city for instance, which are most pleasing to the modern eye, most of them came about not from a process of architectural accidents, but from a very clear vision of how those areas should be developed and how they should look as a whole following their development.

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