Ciarán « Designing Dublin: Learning to Learn

Archive for the ‘Ciarán’ Category

“Open Day”

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Method & Outcome : As part of our “Open Day” Mary & I formulated a list of questions that we thought would give us the richest possible insights as to how the community felt about the Markets area and the surrounding locality. Our questions were designed to get to the essence of what the challenges and opportunities were for the area. For the purposes of conducting our research we decided it would be best to design questions target towards the organisation and also the individual.

Organisations & People we talked to:

MACRO CENTRE: Markets Area Community Resource Centre

Building Management Staff: Ann & Caroline

Senior Citzens Project: Phyllis

The Snug: Margaret & Ileen

Community ICT Project: Andrew Madden

Daughters of Charity Community Services, Henrietta Street: Paul

SARI: Sport Against Racism Ireland: Ken

Questions : Organisation

1.What does your organisation see as being the challenges for the area?

2.How do you think these challenges can be addressed?

3.Has this organisation worked towards addressing these challenges?

4.Has your work here had any impact on the Markets Area?

Questions : Individual

1.Why did you get involved in the project?

2. Is it beneficial to the community in the Markets Area and the surrounding locality.

3.What do you think are the challenges of the area?

4.How can these challenges be turned into opportunities?

5.Have you undertaken your own project/initiative to address these challenges?

Answers to Questions

Building Management Staff: Ann & Caroline

Caroline is about 30 years old and is from Queenstreet. Ann is from St Margarets but used to live in Blackhall Place.

Both said that there is no real police presence in the area and that there is a lot of aggressive begging in the city in places like Capel Street. However Caroline feels that this is the same everywhere. It felt a lot safer years ago when it was busier with the cattle market. They told me that in general the MACRO centre have built a good repour with the workers in the market area. They told me that sometimes the workers hold meetings in the centre and that a florist in the Markets Area comes into the centre to teach flower arranging to the community. Ann mentioned that it might be a good idea to have street markets in the area on a Sunday as it is a day when the general area is totally inactive.

The Snug: Illeen & Margaret

We also talked to a couselling service called The Snug. Here we spoke to Illeen and Margaret. These two ladies expressed a lot of uncertainty around what was happening in the area and also some concern about how the council has interacted with the community. One example of this was the request the residents committee put in for a playground to be built where the old fish market used to be. They were granted use of this space for one month but had to surrender the space after the month was up. They told me that the need for councelling has doubled in the last two years. They provide a service for addiction, women and family support group and try to link people to other appropriate services. They have also said that the drugs problem is getting a lot worse in the local area.

Community ICT Project: Andrew Madden

Andrew works with people of all ages teaching them computer and IT skills. One of his main concerns is securing funding for his project. Andrew runs an after school project for children who may not have anybody living at home. He also runs a lot of courses for people with learning difficulties.


Sports Against Racism Ireland. Ken was a great guy to talk to. He told us a little bit about how SARI try to develop policies regarding racism in sports clubs around Ireland. His work brings people together from all cultures who are living in Ireland through the medium of sport. He told us that there were a number of famous handball champions who came from the area including Redser Williams who won the u21 championship in the 1970s.

From talking to the different Community Support groups in the Area the following issues emerged:

  • Awareness of Services
  • Funding
  • Lack of facilities for Young People
  • Sterotyping of Young People
  • Awareness of the Markets
  • Signage for the Area
  • Dialogue
  • Working in partnership
  • Having a voice
  • Being listened to (having a voice)
  • Promoting the history of the area
  • Looking at making DCC policy user friendly
  • Building relationships

Site Study -Sustainability-

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Before I begin I would first of all like you to take a look at what sustainability is.

The word sustainability is derived from the Latin sustinere (tenere, to hold; sus, up). Dictionaries provide more than ten meanings for sustain, the main ones being to “maintain”, “support”, or “endure”. However, since the 1980s sustainability has been used more in the sense of human sustainability on planet Earth and this has resulted in the most widely quoted definition of sustainability and sustainable development, that of the Brundtland Commission of the United Nations on March 20, 1987: “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

If we are to look at this as the definition to aid the site study then we can look many different aspects of sustainability and not only those that deal directly with nature and the environment.

I took the approach of walking the site and some of the surrounding area to get a general feel for the area and the people living, working and moving through it. I also did some desk research and got my hands on a very useful document from Dublin City Council. The document is a Strategic Environmental Assessment of the Markets Area and was produced in 2004. It looks at the various different characteristics of the environment;

Human Beings
Flora and Fauna
Landscape (Townscape) and Visual Impact
Traffic (Material Assets)
Cultural Heritage

This Strategic Environmental Assessment was prepared by a Study Team led by RPS McHugh Planning and Environment, Chartered Town Planners, Environmental and Development Consultants, who were also responsible for its management and co-ordination. RPS McHugh Planning and Environment was also responsible for inputs to the SEA, addressing Planning Policy Context, Human Beings, Soil, Water, Air, Climate, Landscape, as well as the Consideration of Alternatives and Interactions. The other members of the Study Team were as follows:-

Robertson & Associates, Environmental Consultants: Fauna and Flora

Byrne-Mullins & Associates, Heritage Consultants: Cultural Heritage

Boreham Consulting Engineers Ltd: Traffic

A very useful part of the report is the baseline which examines what environmental elements exists in the Markets area. Considering the fact that no development has taken place that was proposed this means that this informaion is very suited to work with. Also the fact that no other environmental assessments have been carried out means that we are working with the best possible data.

Human Beings
Data of the Census of Population 1991-2002 were used to clarify the nature of the Population and Employment environment. This was essentially a desk-based exercise which addressed the City DED in which the Plan area is located, as well as the wider City area. In respect of Community Issues, the site was surveyed at various times during the day during the months of October and November 2003, and in particular during early morning when Market activity is at its peak.

Flora and Fauna
A strategic baseline study of the Plan area was carried out in November 2003, and a habitat map for the area was established. The area was divided into 21 zones, and the key ecological elements for each zone were described. Detailed floral and faunal composition surveys were not carried out; however each zone was studied in sufficient detail so as to be able to determine whether or not further ecological work would need to be carried out in advance of future development.

A desk study review of publicly available soil data within the Framework Plan area was undertaken, in order to confirm the general geological character of the area. In addition, the area was surveyed to note its general character, and in particular, the extent of area that would be impacted upon by planned development in this area.

An initial walkover of the site was undertaken to identify any localised surface water features of interest in the context of the proposed development. In addition, a desk study review of existing waterbodies in the area was undertaken. Where possible, published water quality and hydrological data was used to assess the impact of water flows from the development.

A walkover survey was undertaken to review any significant existing noise sources within the Framework Plan area, particularly with reference to the activities of the Markets operation, and the construction of the LUAS Line A alignment. In tandem with this, existing Noise Monitoring Data (where available) was reviewed. This baseline information informed the impact assessment in respect of noise.

Air Quality
Existing levels of nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, particulate matter, lead, carbon monoxide and benzene from the Dublin City Council monitoring network were referenced. These levels are used to assess current air quality conditions in the area, and the potential for air quality impacts from developments in the area.

Landscape (Townscape) and Visual Impact
Townscape refers to the visual aspects, character and heritage of an urban area. It also includes the social, cultural and historic aspects of that area, which are not necessarily easily defined, but are equally affected by development. The assessment is based primarily in reference to detailed on-the ground survey of the Markets area. This examined both the Immediate Urban Context of the area, centred primarily around the existing Fruit and Vegetable Market building, and the Wider Urban Context, which includes the other areas of the designated Framework Plan area.

Traffic (Material Assets)
By means of site survey and desk study review, the assessment covers the various elements of Traffic, comprising pedestrians, cyclists, mobility impaired, public transport, taxis and private/commercial vehicles. The assessment reviews existing facilities within the Framework Plan area that will serve these various modes, as well as Guidelines and proposals of Dublin City Council and other Statutory Agencies which apply to this area.

Cultural Heritage
The Archaeological and Architectural Heritage Assessments comprise the results of a survey and evaluation of selected sites of archaeological and architectural potential within the study area. The work consists of the results of a paper survey which addressed the following principal sources:-

• Record of Monuments & Places for Co. Dublin (Dúchas – The Heritage Service)

• Dublin City Development Plan

• Historic Area Rejuvenation Plan (Dublin Corporation, August 1996)

• Markets Area: Draft Framework Plan (Dublin City Council, November 2002)

• Archaeological Study of the Markets Area, Dublin 7 (I.A.C. Ltd., August 2001).

From my research I discovered that there is 36 Protected Structures in the Markets area and also 21 recorded monuments. Protected Structures can be viewed in Dublin City Councils Record of Protected Structures and recoded monuments can be viewed in RMP (record of monuments and places). The RMP is available in planning authority offices and the National Monuments Archive, Ely Place.

TABLE 4.1.8: Protected Structures Within the Markets Area


181 Beresford Street Stone Warehouses (5-storey) on Beresford Street/Cuckoo Lane
370 96/97 Capel Street Façade of Business Premises including railings
371 98 Capel Street House
372 99-100 Capel Street Houses
373 101 Capel Street House
374 102 Capel Street House
375 105-106 Capel Street Houses
376 107 Capel Street House
377 108-109 Capel Street Shop & Restaurant
378 114-116 Capel Street Shops
379 122 Capel Street Shop
380 129-31 Capel Street Licensed Premises (Slatterys)
381 133-136 Capel Street Commercial Premises
382 140 Capel Street House & Shop
383 153 Capel Street House & Shop
384 166 Capel Street Licensed Premises
385 168 Capel Street Licensed Premises
410 5 Chancery Place Medical Mission
411 Chancery Street Chancery House
915 St. Teresa’s College, George’s Hill Older part of convent fronting onto George’s Hill and part of Cuckoo Lane; chapel, gates, railings, intrinsic stone surround of entrance door north facing on return to George’s Hill.
997 Green Street/Halston Street Courthouse and flanking wall beside eastern elevation of Green Street Courthouse
1011 Halston Street St. Michan’s Church & Presbytery
1012 Halston Street/Cuckoo Lane Former Parish Hall, St. Michan’s Boxing Club: façade, railing and granite plinth wall
1013 Halston Street/Cuckoo Lane (intersection) Stone archway surround and entrance door in single storey commercial structure
1014 Halston Street/Green Street Debtor’s Prison (former Garda Station)
1129 Inns Quay Court of Justice (Four Courts);Public Records Office (part).
1130 1-3 Inns Quay Business Premises
1327 22-24 Mary Street Little House & Shops
1328 26-28 Mary Street Little House & Shops
1329 Mary’s Abbey / Meetinghouse Lane Chapter House of St. Mary’s Abbey (incl. internal room, Chapter House and Passage)
1330 Mary’s Lane Fruit Market
1532 1 Ormond Quay Upper Entire Structure
1533 4/5 Ormond Quay Upper Business Premises
1534 6 Ormond Quay Upper House & Shop
1535 12 Ormond Quay Upper 4 storey Commercial Premises
1536 18/20/21/27 Ormond Quay Upper Business Premises
1537 Cuckoo Lane Stone Setts

TABLE 4.1.7: Recorded Monuments Within the Markets Area




DU018:020048 Capel St., Arran St. East, Mary’s Abbey, Little Mary St., Meetinghouse Lane. Abbey Site
DU018:020050 Four Courts Priory Site
DU018:020064 Inns Quay Chapel Site
DU018:0200127 Mary’s Abbey Watermill Site
DU018:0200150 Mary’s Lane / Halston Street Glasshouse Site
DU018:0200151 Meetinghouse Lane Meeting House
DU018:0200159 Mary’s Lane Chapel Site
DU018:0200235 Mary’s Abbey Watermill Site
DU018:0200236 Inns Quay Watermill Site
DU018:0200266 Capel Street Dwelling Site
DU018:0200367 Meetinghouse Lane Chapter House
DU018:0200379 Green St. / Halston St. Marketplace Site
DU018:0200380 Mary’s Abbey Prison Site
DU018:0200381 Mary’s Abbey / Arran St. East Bridge Site
DU018:0200444 Inns Quay Infirmary Site
DU018:0200459 Inns Quay Quay
DU018:0200482 Ormond Quay Upper/Lower Quay
DU018:0200483 Ormond Square Marketplace Site
DU018:0200566 Ball’s Lane / Halston Street Watercourse Site
DU018:0200589 Morgan Place Watercourse site
DU018:0200590 Morgan Place Building Site

Historic Mapping

Charles Brooking’s map of 1728 shows a recognisable street pattern although old names for the streets continue to be used. Most of the street frontages are now occupied by properties. John Rocque’s map of 1756 is the first map that allows detailed comparisons with the modern street plan. It shows the Ormond Market as a rectangular layout of streets between Upper Ormond Quay, Charles Street and Arran Street. A short street between it and Pill Lane is identified as the Fish Market. The block between Cow Lane (Greek Street), Mary’s Lane, Boot L

The maps of the Wide Streets Commissioners from the late 18th and early 19th century show the older street lines being changed to their present form. The 1795 map shows the River Bradogue still flowing above ground on the site of the present Fruit & Vegetable Market.

The Ordnance Survey maps of 1847 and 1866 and 1908 show the general area is heavily built up with properties occupying the frontages of all the streets and lanes. Many of the buildings and properties indicated on these maps can easily be identified on present day maps of the area, particularly that of 1908 which shows the present Fruit & Vegetable Market of 1892 and Fish Market of 1897.

In addition to this work I also looked at Dublin City Councils Biodiversity Report. I also looked at historic mapping for the area including the old tram maps for Dublin, medieval maps, river maps and biodiversity maps.

From my personal experience of walking the site and talking to people in the area I found a mixture of different things. Firstyly it appeared to me that there was no visible signs of waste recycling. I came across a lot of large waste bins but there was sign of any recycling except for the odd brown & green bin that perhaps could have been used for recycling.

The image above shows organic waste but there does not appear to be any visible mechanism inplace for this matter to be recycled or composted. One possible suggestion that came from Mark Bennett, Dublin City Council Green Business Officer was to introduce biodigestors to the area. Alternatively the material could be used for composting and given back to the community for planting in the area. From the site study it is evident that there is a serious lack of nature in the area and perhaps if local business worked with the local community in taking on small local projects it may improve relations and also the environment.

Ronnie Tino’s Visit

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Ronnie Tino who works a lot with technology and urban spaces kindly came to visit us in Designing Dublin. Ronnie used to work as a bicycle courier in Copenhagen. He told us that working as a bicycle courier he started to notice more specific details about the city and subsequently was able to use the city as a friend or a tool.

I was very interested to learn about an environmental recording device Ronnie had been working on that gave real-time environmental data attached to a real-time GPS co-ordinate system. The idea being that the recording device would be strapped to a persons arm and recorded environmental data as they moved through the city about their daily business in the citys urban environment.

I was also very impressed with the live interactive billboard he showed us in the Netherlands that was used as part of an awareness campaign to inform the public of live street crime and antisocial behaviour. I thought this was a great idea to help to help promote a sense of civic duty which was been somehow lost. My only concern around this idea is that if a similiar system was used in Dublin City it could add further to the many peoples perception that the city is unsafe. I agree that there is an issue with safety in our city but I’m not sure if it is as bad as some people may think.

Understanding Our Site In Terms of Nature & Movement

Monday, January 24th, 2011

I looked at the markets area in terms of Nature & Movement. I looked at each category in terms of the following elements:


Transformation of the natural environment to the built environment


Transport & Logistics
Vehicles -private/commercial
Parking –private/commercial/legal/illegal
Movement for People with disabilities
Existing Entrances & Exists


Add an Image

Here in Ormond Square Park I spotted a small bird in a tree. It was lovely to see this type of wildlife in the city which is qute a rarity. I found this park to contain the richest elements of nature in comparison to the rest of the Markets Area. I found nature to be lacking in many front gardens of peoples houses where the majority of gardens were paved in concrete and perhaps some houses had potted plants or hanging baskets.

Transport & Logistics

The Markets Area is a commercial entity enclosed by residential to the north, west and south with a mixture of commercial and residential landuse along Capel Street to the east. There is an area in the south-west with a primary legal function comprised of the Four Courts and the Bridewell Garda Station.
Considering this the area presents many challenges around commercial traffic travelling through residential areas. Challenges around road safety, noise, pollution and parking are just what spring to mind.

People with Disabilities

This image shows numerous cars illegally parked and mounting a kerb preventing people being able to use the foothpath. This shows that there is a lack of respect for people with disabilities. It is also indicative that there may be a blind eye turned to illegal parking in the Markets Area.

Choosing An Area to Focus On

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Possible Areas To Focus On.

Pearse Street-Ringsend-Grand Canlal Dock (collaboration)
Stoney Batter
The Markets Area (connecting to Smithfield and Capel Street)
The Boardwalk
Stoney Batter-Oliver Bond-Bridgefoot Street (collaboration)

The Markets Area

Even before the project started I have been a strong advocate of exploring ways of linking Capel Street to the Markets Area which would inturn link to Smithfield. Considering this I ask myself the question, could this be too obvious a solution to look to? At the same time perhaps there is a lot to be said for the obvious. I am also aware that there are already plans to revitalise this area so I would keep this at the back of my mind.

Linking, connecting and integrating together our existing streets, squares, quarters and public spaces will help avoid certain spaces being isolated and each will benefit from the juxtaposition of connectivity and will produce synergies. We are all aware that Smithfield is an area which is quite isolated from the rest of the the city. Even though it is on the LUAS line, when you walk to it on foot from the centre of town the atmosphere you experience as a pedestrian is far from pleasant.

I think we should try and create attractive links to places like this that are isolated. These links should be aesthetically pleasing and function correctly where people feel safe and can enjoy all the qualities the city has to offer. Maybe we don’t actually need to do anything physical, for example the solution could be simply having street markets leading up to these areas of isolation. It is a fact that people feel safer when they have other people around them and this in turn leads to the development of positive spin off affects.

To finish I believe links between significant quarters and public spaces need to be given a lot more attention. This could take the form of creating zones of pedestrian priority and cycle lanes(physically separated) where design is focused on creating a link as pleasant as possible through appropriate streetscaping and lighting etc. creating a strong platform on which to build upon.

“If I could just park that one there for a moment”?

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

“If I could just park that one there for a moment”? A phrase sometimes used when one wishes to move from one topic of conversation to another without wanting to appear rude. However in this situation the phrase has been taken a step further whereby two No Parking signs have been parked/dumped for the foreseable future into one of our citys greatest assets, some may even consider it a jem in its self, the Grand Canal.

For me this image evokes symbolism of disposal and abandonment to something that is unwanted. However the more I think about it I am drawn to ponder on some of the realities our city faces on issues like car parking and our overall attitude towards all issues surrounding transport.

What we are seeing in this photograph could well be the result of late night drunken antics but to me it makes me step back and think a little bit more about how we would like our city to be.
If we want to reduce the number of cars in the city we first of all need to set the wheels in motion for a much stronger more integrated more cohesive public transport system. No easy task but one truely worth striving for! For me the concept of putting the cart before the horse just does not make sense. If we want to stop cars parking in the city there needs to be an feasible alternative. Of course we have to try to change the publics behaviour of over reliance on the motor vehicle but at the end of the day I believe it is all about achieving the right balance.

Who would have thought that there could be inspiration drawn from such destructive behaviour?

picture taken along the Grand Canal near Warrington Place.

The grey areas of the Irish moral/legal compass

Monday, December 13th, 2010

1. It’s grand
2. Don’t push it
3. You’re taking the piss

courtesy of Darragh O’Brien

Scheduled Conversations: People Who Exchange Their Products In The City

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

People who Exchange Their Products In the City

Faciliated by Mary & Ciarán……
Venue: The Oval, underneath the entrance to the Gate Theatre.
Time: 16:00-18:00
Dermot Lacey, Barbara, Craig and Lynn
Margo, Jack Roche, Priscilla, Tom Coffey

Sub Themes
1) Supports
2) Challenges
3) Opportunities
4) Motivation
5) Experience
6) Entrepreneurship

Introduction – Welcome
You are all very welcome here today. We invited you here today to share with us, your ideas, views and insights to the overall theme of “People who exchange their products in the city”.
Just to tell you a little bit about our project Designing Dublin. Designing Dublin is a learning initiative. It is a Design 21st Century project (Not for profit organisation) funded by the DRA(Dublin Regional Authority) and has strong links with the Creative Dublin Alliance and Dublin City Council. We are a multidisciplinary team with a mixture of volunteers and Dublin City Council staff. The project lasts six months and we hope to develop prototype projects that will be presented to Dublin City Council for implementation.

Mary will talk to you now about what we would like to do for the afternoon.
Mary “When we were looking at the topic for discussion (People who exchange their products in the city) we touched on six different themes. These sub themes are as follows.

1) Supports
2) Challenges
3) Opportunities
4) Motivation
5) Experience
6) Entrepreneurship

“So it may be helpful to have these things at the back of your mind as we come to our discussions. We invite you now to split up into two groups, if we could have Group 1 with; Margo, Jack, Priscilla, Tom join Table 1 with Ciarán and if we could have Dermot, Barbara, Craig and Lynn join Table 2 with Mary please”.

Ciarán’s Table
“Thanks everyone, I’m just going to explain how all of this is going to work. I’m going to ask you all to come up with four questions that you would like to ask the group that you feel should be discussed. So just take a couple of minutes to come up with your four questions. After you have done this we will ask you to vote on four questions that you think will offer the richest insights and offer most diversity to the conversation.”

“Each person will be given four stickers and I ask you to place a sticker next to the question you would like to vote for”. The participants spent roughly 5-10 minutes writing down their four questions. The questions that were voted on are as follows.

1.Day Time Economy?
2.Do people trust each other and have pride in the city?
3.How can empty spaces be used more?
4.Has Dublin city got lost in the overall scheme of things?

Things that came up in the discussion at Ciarán’s Table;
Question 1: Day Time Economy?
-Smithfield, artists studios, empty space
-2 weeks (short term only)
-Pop Up shops/bars
-Price relationship and fairness (no conflict should arise)
-Why do we have empty shops(Tom Coffey)
-Planning Laws
-Vacancy rate
-Fill vacant windows with artists DCC want rates
-Landlords, rates, rent, insurance
-Shop fronts

Question 2 : Do people trust each other and have pride in the city?
-RTE is anti-Dublin
-Nationwide (too rural)
-balance between Dublin & rest of the country
-Dubliners are proud of Dublin
-St Pats Day Festival, (festivals are not advertised enough), a lot of people don’t like to mix outside their own groups, (fear of taking part).
-bring pride back by advertising more and encouraging inclusive participation
-The state should achieve the same standard as its’ citizens to enable pride to emerge.(TC)
-IAP(Integrated Area Plan) O’Connell Street
-Homelessness, drug addict epidemic(Margo)
-Average age of drug addict is 12 years of age
-Yes. We do have pride in the city
-scale of the city is great
-(margo) people in Lord Edward Street are very friendly and are not afraid to say hello.
-people trust each other
-two thirds of people who live in Dublin were not born in Dublin
-people generally don’t trust anybody in authority
-tourists are surprised how friendly Irish people are

Question 3 : How can empty spaces be used more?
-Environment needs to be cleaned up, footpaths, pedestrian crossings, we need vibrancy
-small businesses make up 80% of the rates
-small things are often what people want
-more integration of small and big things
-permeability, Italian quarter to Jervis, outdoor dining, the village quarter, artisan style shops in Capel Street

Question 4: Has Dublin city got lost in the overall scheme of things?
-CSO(central statistics office) turnover of the city is €2.5 billion
-art, younger people, bands
-Dublin is weak we are lost(TC)
-Diversity is great(Margo)
-consolidate what we have and exploit our resources
-we have pride but we need people to perform to a higher standard

People we could talk to next
-local people
-Dublin City Enterprise Board
-RAPID (Revitalising Areas by Planning, Investment and Development)
-Kings of Concrete(skate boarding)

Reflections after Discussion
All in all taking everything into account as a team we performed very well during the course of the scheduled conversation. We had a very well planned time table and a clear view of where we wanted to go and what we wanted to achieve during our allocated time.
We grouped our participants in such a way that synergies would be created and ideas would flourish. We were also conscious of not having too many vociferous participants in the one group where less vocal participants could have potentially felt somewhat smothered.

Looking back we did very well up until the last part of the discussion where our two groups regrouped as one. The difficulty arose in trying to get the two groups to have an integrated discussion on the findings and insights from the two teams. In hindsight we should have set a target for the two teams to achieve, for example 10 topics to discuss with the other group. This would have given more drive and focus to the overall discussion.

Street Engagement Documentation: Ha’Penny Bridge, Ciarán & Tara

Sunday, November 28th, 2010


Originally the idea entailed having passersby pin a ribbon on to a tree in an urban setting. Each ribbon would pose a question to the recipient. The answer would be written on the ribbon, recorded and then pinned onto the tree. The hope was that the mass of ribbons on the tree would create a visual spectacle which would entice people into talking to us.

It was decided that it would be more appropriate to use a structure already existing in the infrastructure of the city. Vincent came up with the idea of fixing blue ribbons(the same colour as the Designingdublin Tee shirts)to the Halpenny Bridge. This would help establish the interactive space for the process to take place. We also fixed posters telling people who we were to the bridge.

The Ha’penny Bridge was chosen due to it standings as a quintessential Dublin landmark, the ease with which ribbons could be attached (as opposed to a tree, which would require a ladder), the visual effect that could be achieved by covering it with ribbons and the fact that it is an extremely busy thoroughfare with huge amounts of footfall from an incredibly wide cross-section of users of the city. The idea behind the process was to ask people a question and to write down their answer on the blue ribbon with a marker that we would provide. We would document the people we talked to taking details of their names, approximate age, nationality and the area they lived in.

We started with the question “What exciting thing do you know about in Dublin, that you don’t think a lot of people do?” This question tried to ask for the hidden gems of Dublin without asking the question directly which could possibly impose on the individual to reveal a secret that they wished to hold onto and keep to themselves. Passersby would be asked to write their answer on one of the ribbons tied to the bridge and then were photographed and questioned about what their favourite things about Dublin were and also what challenges they felt the city was facing (time and willingness to participate pending).

The original question left openness for a number of different answers. It did not specify anything physical so it was left to the individual how it was interpreted. If the participant asked for some help in understanding the question I would ask them to take some time to think about the question. I would also tell them that the answer did not necessarily have to be a physical thing that it could possibly have something to do with feeling, emotions or anything else that they felt was appropriate to the question. I also encouraged them to engage with all of their senses when attempting to answer.

I always started with this type of question but I sometimes needed to change the question depending on whether or not the participant could engage in this way with the original question. If the participant could not work with the original question and found it confusing or too abstract I would try to change it slightly so that the participant could contribute to answering a similar question that was not as abstract. It was necessary that we did not take a “one size fits all approach” to conducting our research.
More simplified questions include:
“What is your favourite thing about Dublin”?
We also came across a lot of tourists who had just arrived in Dublin City who would have not been able to answer the original question. In cases like this I usually asked “what are your first impressions of Dublin”?

Other questions included:
“What would you show to a friend in Dublin that you don’t think they know about”?
“What is the funniest thing about Dublin”?

Target Audience

This particular engagement covered a huge cross section of city users. The nature of Ha’penny Bridge as a crossing point on the Liffey means that it is used by an incredibly broad demographic; a wide range of age groups, nationalities, socio-economic classes; Dublin natives and tourists alike. Of course, some were more willing to engage than others and with many there was a language barrier, so the process in actuality did not harvest from the full range of city users it had the potential to.
The target audience included people who cross the Halpenny Bridge, including people who live in the city, people who live outside the city, people from all demographics and age groups. As it was mid-term break for schools this helped us reach a young audience which would normally be a little more difficult as research has shown that young people and elderly people make up a smaller demographic in Dublin City.

How We Ran The Process

Our desired outcome was to find 100 exciting things that we didn’t know about Dublin. We did not directly set out to address the challenges that the city faces but indirectly these challenges were addressed as a result of conversations we had with people who approached us inquiring as to what we were doing. I came across a lot of people including drug addicts, disenfranchised youth and homeless people who expressed their views on the challenges Dublin City is facing.

On Wednesday evening, we stapled approximately 500 light cyan ribbons to the Ha’penny Bridge. The ribbons were the plastic sort used by florists, chosen for their vibrant colour, propensity to be written on with a Sharpie (unlike fabric ribbons, there was no ‘bleed’ from the marker), waterproof nature and low cost (€2.61/100m).

Unfortunately, the ribbons were removed overnight. On Thursday morning, we replaced them with approximately 200-300 additional ribbons and also added Designing Dublin posters at the apex of the bridge. We stood on the bridge and asked people about the exciting things they knew about the city, asked them to write their answer on a ribbon and – depending on the rush they were in and the level of willingness they showed to participate – took their photograph, and interviewed them about the benefits and challenges of city living.

A few things quickly became apparent. Firstly, the nature of the process was not particularly conducive to a long, in depth interview. The bridge was too crowded and hectic to inveigle many people into a deep interview and in addition to this, most people were deliberately going somewhere, not casually wandering. Secondly, it became obvious that the basic question we were posing needed to be tweaked and modified, so as to gain the best possible answers.

A balance needed to be struck. On the one hand, it was extremely difficult for many participants to come up with an interesting answer on the spot, so it became obvious that at least a certain level of conversation had to be entered into. On the other hand, it wasn’t particularly easy to get into that depth of conversation with people who were in a hurry. Over the course of the process, the “challenges and benefits” aspect of the questioning process were by and large dropped in favour of concentrating on discovering the “exciting things” (unless of course, the participant was eager or willing to engage in a longer conversation).

On Friday, the atrocious weather hampered the process considerably. It just wasn’t feasible to stop people on the freezing cold, wet bridge. We tried several iterations of the process, attempting to stop people in Mercheant’s Arch, where the spectacle of the bridge covered in ribbons was still clearly visible. This was more successful than standing on the bridge in the rain, but people were still visibly eager to move on to wherever they were going, out of the bad weather. We then tried talking to people in the arch at the main entrance to Trinity College.

Over the course of the morning, it had become apparent that there was nowhere near enough communication between the group members and we both evidently had very different techniques. We then began talking to people in pairs and “shadowing” each other to see how the other’s technique worked and what we could glean from each other. By lunch time Ciarán was feeling quite ill and it was obvious that standing in the rain for the day was not going to be possible for him, so he was forced to go home. Ciarán’s technique was more conversational than mine and I attempted to implement his approach more in my own interactions, whilst still trying to glean the sort of concrete, tangible answers I was looking for. Brian and I experimented for a while with longer conversations, which was certainly more effective, but time intensive.

At 2.00pm or so, I took my lunch break, deciding I would go to the back of the IFI and if the opportunity arose, start conversations with people in a more casual, direct manner while having a coffee.

This technique worked astonishingly well.

I spoke at length to 6 individuals, firstly a man about 28 years old, for 20 minutes or so. When he left, I began talking to two men, early thirties about a snippet of conversation I’d overheard, which sounded intriguing. They were both actors and were discussing an interesting short film which one of them was in rehearsal for. Over the course of the next 1 1/2 – 2 hours, a number of their friends arrived and departed, all of whom I spoke to. Some I spoke to individually as their friends came and went, leaving them alone, other times I spoke to them as a group, always around the topic of exciting, hidden things in Dublin.

The conversation was natural and chatty, not in anyway a formal interview process and worked beautifully. Both the time span and the group nature of the discussion contributed well to the efficacy of gleaning information, giving everyone time to think and also offering the potential for a degree of one-upmanship; when somebody mentioned a particular thing or interesting fact, other people reciprocated with one of their own.

In retrospect, I should have realised sooner that this approach would be appropriate and effective. On Thursday night I met up with friends from college for a drink and the conversation I had with them about the goals of the process I was working on threw up some very interesting titbits. This question, is essentially, a perfect pub conversation, and not quite so appropriate as a question for eliciting a quick response.

That said, the process in and of itself was an excellent tool for engaging people and some extremely interesting answers were gleaned. We attracted a very large number of curious and interested people who all seemed to enjoy our temporary installation on the bridge. They interacted with it physically, running their hands along the fluttering ribbons and large numbers stopped to read what was written on them, even if they declined to engage in a conversation with us. The problem was that it was very much akin to trawling, rather than fishing, with a small percentage of the responses given to us offering much insight with respect to the specific question we had posed.

The process certainly has merit and warrants repetition, but may work better for a different question, or if for this particular question, will need refinement.

Reflection on what we were happy about and what you could do better next time in terms of visual impact and promoting and publicising Designingdublin we could not have chosen a better location than the Halpenny Bridge. As we experienced heavy rain on Friday morning we noticed that people were not as fast to engage with us so we had to move our project to other locations, usually to places were there was an element of shelter available. We discovered when it is raining people will try to get from A to B even faster than they normally would. As a result of this we went to places like Merchants Arch, Trinity Arch and the IFI(Irish Film Institute). The IFI was a great location for to talk to people who were not in a rush and had time to kill and also enjoyed competing intellectually with each other. I didn’t feel entirely comfortable approaching people at Trinity Arch as I felt that they were there waiting to meet somebody and didn’t really like you taking advantage of their captive disposition. Essentially they were a captive audience and noticed that we were in fact using this to our advantage. I felt there was no interactive space set up in the other locations either which is a massive support in encouraging curiosity among people. In brief, crowds attract crowds!

Perhaps we could have had another poster than the one we had which may have said something like “Tell me something I don’t know about Dublin I believe that it is important to have a poster that is inviting and not too abstract in its’ message. Although I do like the sense of mystery that surrounds the abstract nature of certain advertising posters as it encourages curiosity but I do think that is also important to be inviting also.

Answers on Blue Ribbons Ciarán & Tara
1) Wright Venue
2) Zoo in Phoenix Park
3) Seapoint
4) Sráid Ui Chonaill
5) The friendly locals
6) Iveagh Gardens
7) Spire
8) Ciarán Stanley
9) Windmill Lane Studios
10) Henry Street
11) The Hidden Bookshop in Wicklow Street
12) City Centre Appearance
13) NCAD (Thursday nights)
14) Mr Treats, Temple Bar
15) St Annes Park
16) The Liffey
17) The Rain
18) Lovely breakfast very friendly, Lauren aged 9
19) The Kerry people living in Dublin
20) Forbidden Planet, comic book shop
21) Little bird house in Temple Bar above palm tree sculpture
22) The Spire is great and don’t miss the Chester Beatty Library
23) Chester Beatty Library
24) Aisling is cool
25) The Pav(The Pavillion bar TCD) The best place to drink in the summer
26) Temple Bar
27) The smoking area in the Long Stone pub
28) Boardwalk
29) The Wheel
30) Chapters Bookshop
31) Stephens Green, (Maguel, Brazil)
32) The Liberties, Caroline
33) Ghost bus
34) Kileager stables
35) Natural History Museum
36) Gigantic bottles of Korean beer in the Hop House(Parnell Street bar restaurant)
37) Halpenny Bridge
38) Dublin Wollen Mills
39) Sky Bar, Guinness Brewery
40) A tree in Kings Inns Park that has swallowed a bench with its trunk
41) Captain America’s
42) The colour of the spire when the sun is setting
43) Dublin Castle
44) Against The Grain, Camden Street
45) I think Dublins’ great, Vincent
46) Hidden Abbey; Amazing! Underground in lane of Evans Art Shop off Capel Street
47) Shile ná Gig, at the top of door on Mona Lisa restaurant
48) House on GPO
49) lol Up the Dubs, Jason Williams, peace
50) Arnotts
51) The International
52) Heavenly Stephens Green
53) Bargain Shop in Arnotts
54) I like the old run down buildings
55) Chief Wiggem to the left of Merchants arch
56) The National Conference Centre
57) I love the atmosphere
58) Clerys
59) Paddy Kavanagh, canal bank seat, Baggot Street
60) Flea Market and the arch at Temple Bar
61) Vive la Pluie, (Horray for the rain!)
62) DIT Aungier Street
63) Grafton Street a wonderland
64) Very Cute!
65) The Buzz, the craic
66) Phoenix Park
67) Library in Trinity College, George T
68) Imagine Peace, The Spire, Temple Bar
69) We love the Spire
70) Dublins’ Blue Sky
71) Louie Bennett bench in Stephens Green- Labour movement around 1913
72) Cuckoo Lane
73) Shops
74) Coppers (Copper Face Jacks nightclub)
75) Café Des Irlandais
76) We like the Spire
77) It’s a kip!
78) How friendly everyone is in Dublin
79) Alexander Williams aged 13
80) Stephens Green, anna Sillery
81) Georges Street Arcade
82) Iveagh Gardens
83) Friendly buskers
84) The art project in the docklands
85) Everything, (Fabio, Brazil)
86) Camden Palace
87) The academy
88) Tea Garden, Ormond Quay
89) Pretty City, (un fraincis)
90) Harcourt railway station
91) Fafies’ creperie
92) It’s me home!
93) Good bus tour, (Olivia aged 6)
94) Halpenny Bridge
95) The Milkshake Bar
96) RADE off New Street
97) Artists Studios Henrietta Street
98) The friendliness of the people
99) Sunlight Chambers on Parlament Street
100) We love the Spire!
101) The Holly Well under the Nassau street entrance to Trinity College
102) The people and culture, KP
103) Blessington Street Basin
104) Love the people!! BE BACK….
105) Leprechaun Museum
106) Double Decker Buses, egg salad sandwhich, pubs, size of the city, City feel but not scary, easy to get around for the most part, accents, new place, (Amy, North Carolina, USA)
107) Pretty
108) Temple Bar
109) Dublins’ Great people
110) Croke Park on All Ireland Day
111) Temple Bar
112) Temple Bar
113) Rugby(Joeri aged 15 the Netherlands)
114) Happy Birthday Suerin!
115) Docklands wonderful area
116) St Stephens Green in the morning
117) Freedom of Expression, Go Civil Partnership! (woman approx 30 years old)
118) No swim suits in Dublin
119) The people
120) Temple Bar, Aisling
121) Vive le fish & chips, Cha
122) Kippure, Dublin Mountains and hill walking (man approx, 80 years of age)
123) In remembrance of Tom, RIP(homeless man in Merchants Arch begging, Tom died in the same hostel this man slept in the night night before)
124) The city lights as you come in from the country
125) The clothes shopping and the sports
126) The bell tower, if you stand under it you fail your exams
127) Bullet holes in the GPO
128) The Museum Building, TCD
129) Royal Marine Hotel
130) Fish Eye Mirror on the Foggy Dew Window(pub at central bank)
131) Funniest thing: listening to people talk; mostly on public transport
132) Daylight Robbery; There was tax on windows so people boarded them up e.g Bank of Ireland
133) I love Lee Fitzgerald, he lives in Dublin
134) Aviary in the smoking area of the Clock
135) The Dawson Lounge, the smallest pub in Ireland
136) If you walk under Campaniue (Bell Tower) and the bell rings you fail your exams
137) Lights at night
138) The mix up of traditional places and new venues- the LUAS trams
139) It’s not your democracy it’s my democracy
140) I didn’t know that the Trinity building was it when I started there
141) The streets and passages, the kind people of the city
142) Becel & Bring
143) The ghost bike by the canal near Harolds Cross
144) Campshires
145) I live there
146) I like the architecture in the Olympia Theatre
147) The Back Loft Performance and rehearsal space off Thomas st
148) Independent Youth Theatre – Basement in Clarendon St. Gigs, performances, parties and improv. (Come As Soon As You Hear – Facebook group)
149) CUBE – Campaign to Use Buildings that are Empty – Campaign launched by the Carbery Housing Association
150) The Complex, Smithfield Former disused warehouse, now live performance space ( 086 8109789)
151) Visit Dublin app. – Virtual tour for Dublin available on smartphones.
152) Garage Bar – Opposite the Project in Temple Bar.
153) The New Theatre – Connolly Bookshop, Temple Bar
154) Blue Bus – Smoking area/pizza restaurant. Back of the Bernard Shaw.
155) The Crypt – Underground performance space in Dublin Castle
156) Liffey God – Carved anthropomorphic representation of the Liffey on bridgestone of O’Connell bridge.
157) “Secret Bar” – Directly across from the Market Bar, carved snail above door.
158) Gay Map – Map of gay hotspots in Dublin. Available in the Fringe Festival’s office
159) The Lab – Rehearsal space, Foley St.
160) Beckett performance in lane behind Christchurch. – By Raymond Keane and Brian Burroughs
161) Berlin Love Tour – Non-traditional theatre piece, involving a tour of “Berlin” on Dublin streets.
162) Isolde’s Tower – Exchange Street Lower
163) “Culture of Child Abuse”- Exchange St. Lower
164) Adifferentkettleoffishaltogether – art space Ormond Quay
165) Phoenix Park is a poor anglicization of “Fionn Uisce” meaning bright water.
166) Irish National War Memorial Gardens Islandbridge
167) Knight from the Crusades, buried in crypt – St. Michan’s Church, Smithfield
168) Ghost Bike – Bridge over Grand Canal at Harold’s Cross
169) Health food shop

100 Examples

Monday, November 15th, 2010