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Key relationships and 11 challenges in Markets area

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Having concluded our site studies and street conversations with stakeholders using the markets area, we have distilled down our insights and identified the core relationships in the area and 11 key challenges to work on:

1. lack of identity/vision
2. lack of navigation
3. lack of knowing the system of the area
4. lack of fun and lightness
5. lack of safety
6. lack of diversity/ vibrancy
7. lack of communication
8. lack of facilities
9. lack of linkages
10. lack of ownership/citizenship
11. lack of ease to start a business

These themes were synthesized using a bottom up evidenced approach based on primary research – that is, what people told us.

We will each take charge of a theme and seek to fully explore and understand it over the next week. We will be looking into how this theme fits into the larger scheme of things and how it should be approached in the long-term view while determining appropriate methods to test and prototype that in the short-term.

Street Conversation – Snippets from the horses mouth

Friday, February 4th, 2011

“The beautiful market building is full of stored goods. Why don’t you put the storage in all the ugly buildings and put nice things in the markets building.”

– Agnieska, 30, Polish, living in Inchicore, cycles weekly to the markets for fruit and veg because its cheap, gets fish at Kish, Smithfield.

“Worlds collide in this area. It can be intimidating at times……The markets are very disorganized and it is not clear where you are allowed to shop. ….There is no corner shop here……All the trainee lawyers here are just looking for an opportunity to network socially and it helps them advance their careers. If you planned an event disguised as a cheese and wine reception or something they would even pay €5 donation to get in”

- James, 30, Irish, cycles daily from Infirmary Road to work in courts.

“I was sorry to see the markets go down as they were the backbone of the city centre commercially and socially. Change the area only if necessary as it is full of character and history. Add more colour and fill in the gaps of derelict sites but not with hotels, not apartments, not offices please…..

I come here to socialize. The early houses here are a good feature. They attract tourists in and people who have just finished night shift, it’s a very sociable area”

- Anonymous (by preference), 58, Irish, walking in several times a week to socialize in area, in pubs.

Markets area- what people are saying

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Over the last week we’ve had our ear to the ground in the markets area. We have engaged in conversations at various location points in the markets area, with a variety of target groups at varied times of day. Again like our previous street conversations all over Dublin, we are using processes to dig deep and draw insights from people in and around the markets area.

 I set up shop in 3 areas with Micheal and Shane:

Location 1: Chancery House Flat Complex

Location 2: Ormonde Square

Target: residents

 Location 3:  Corner Church Street / Luas Line

Target: General passers-by

We approached people using a map to discover the route they took through the area, their typical use of the area, how they would describe it to a friend, what hopes they had for the place and what insights or knowledge they had.

Back in the studio we pulled out the key things people were saying and used these to develop ideas for the area.


Recurrent themes that seemed to arise from my personal scan of all the teams findings were as follows:

InnovCity – what our peer cities are doing

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

I was curious which other cities/ councils are taking innovation and design-led approaches seriously and I found this:


Innov’in the City is the leading online magazine dedicated to urban innovation. This project is initiated by the Paris Region Innovation Lab, the purpose of which is to transform the Ile-de-France territory into an experimentation territory. It is supported by Mairie de Paris and other partners.

Very interesting. We should report in and share from Dublin….

Note also I saw a very interesting book in Easons produced by Vodafone on the basis of worldwide workshops on what the future will be like in 2020 under themes like health, wealth, happiness, mobility, security, locality.

It is called Future Agenda 2020 . The website is here:


and the info about the book and project is here:


How the Markets COULD Be

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Out talking to people on the streets in the markets area many people mentioned to us that they would like to see the markets develop along the lines of the English Market in Cork or the Barcelona market – see pictures below. They mentioned the desire for diverse produce so that many shopping needs could be fulfilled in one place and a need for more colour and  more legibility to distinguish retail from wholesale.

Note use of balcony space for cafes below:


Hidden Gems Markets Area

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

You can locate these gems yourself using the map below presentation

Current Land Use

Monday, January 24th, 2011

The landuse pattern above highlights the following

> The dominant land-use is for residential and warehousing. This appears to reflect the predominant historical (though apparently no longer current) pattern of the area since the 19th century- people living and working locally in the markets and associated trades or in the linen and sewing industries as reflected in the film ‘Bananas on the Breadboard’.

> Of note is the lack of retail  space, especially eateries,  in the area apart from on Capel Street though this has begun to creep westwards along Mary’s Abbey. Infact there are more pubs than eateries, surprise surprise!

> There is plenty of civic space in the area via churches, courts, playground and the MACRO community resource building on North King Street.

> There is significant surface carparking considering that most additional kerbside parking is not marked in.

Historical Land Use Development

Monday, January 24th, 2011

In my next take of the markets area, in true Sherlock Holmes style, I took my notebook, pen and beady eye. No one I asked knew anything about wonderful things in the area so I ploughed the streets quietly looking for clues for what lies beneath – street names, old stone walls, plaques, peeping through gates, walking up stairwells, braving the back-alleys. Cuckoo Lane, I had never been here before, a place in the back door of my city with a beautiful name and an ugly aspect, though one time people must have down scurried here to the friary on Church Street.

In order to fully understand the place and its character and origins I looked at old maps.

Here is Speeds map 1610, the first map of Dublin; clearly St. Mary’s Abbey and St Michan’s Church are 12th century cornerstones of the area and Church Street leading North, Mary’s Lane and the current Chancery Street/ Mary’s Abbey are key routes through the area:

Here is La Rocque’s Map 1765 and we can see that modern Dublin is well underway and that the Northside of the Liffey has been developed:

Here is Pat Liddy’s map of Dublin in 2050 from ‘Pat Liddy andn the Changing Landscapes of Dublin’, 2003:

First look at Markets Area

Friday, January 21st, 2011

We dived into our site study of the markets area this week. I walked the streets to absorb the place in several takes. My first take was one of bustle from the markets, the colour of the fruit& veg, a clear sense of character and potential moving towards Capel Street. But this contrasted sharply with a bleakness, a lack of people and a sense of the inhospitable elsewhere within the rough bounds of the area – from Church Street in the west, to Ormond Quay in the South, up to North King Street.

This was not a place designed for people but for warehouses and trucks. Everywhere I saw high foreboding windowless walls and derelict sites, on the principal routes through the area– along the luas lines on Chancery Street and along Mary’s Lane extending from Mary Street.

The common denominator was a lack of natural street surveillance – almost no retail shops with people browsing, no cafes with people looking out, no locals hanging out. I could only imagine how this deteriorates after the markets close and no activity happens at all. And like an industrial estate who would want to be there?

How would we get a foothold in here at all and how the hell would I uncover hidden gems here?

And yet I suspected that if I scratched the surface, I’d be bound to find something, something like character, lore and history pushing its way out of the ground just waiting to be cared for and remembered….

And so I became a detective…!

Choosing a working area in the City

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

The River

I wanted to choose an area that encompassed the river because I see the river is the central core of the city – for the reasons set out in a separate blog posting Sat 4th December, scroll below.


So I set out to map what kind of natural surveillance existed on the north river front at night to understand the safety aspect of this area by examining opening times of commercial units which creates natural footfall. This showed that there was limited activity there in the evenings as few units are open until midnight and there is a radical reduction after midnight.

Commercial activity North Quay open until midnight between Chancery place to Bersford Place:


Commercial activity with opening times after midnight all week- between Chancery place to Bersford Place:


Unified area with opportunity

However while the river is a unifying artery for the city as a whole, to choose a focused area in which to work, the latitude of the river would not enable a focused input into a distinct community or area. So I have selected a section of the river with a relevant hinterland.

The area has boundaries as follows:

South – Inns Quay to Ormond Quay
East -Jervis Street to Dominick St.
North – Bolton Street to North King Street
West – Church Street


• The area is very much an ‘in between’ area
o It is bounded by the Henry Street retail core and Smithfield but there is no natural linkage between them though much potential
o It is on the route from city centre to planned Grangegorman Campus

• It has many dead spaces at night with lack of natural surveillance

• The Luas runs through it and cars go through it but apart from Capel St., it has little pedestrian activity.

• The luas and traffic flow people THROUGH it but not so many linger in it
• It contains two main residential pockets
o social housing flat complex (Chancery House) with typically long-time residents of Dublin and
o new apartment complexes corner Church St, King Street
• The residential pockets are not combined in with commercial pockets.
• There are dead pockets with almost no residential or commercial activity
• The legal quarter and the fruit markets create very different atmospheres and attract two very different types of daytime workers
• It contains a student population – DIT Bolton Street
• Many people we spoke to stated that the Northside needed more attention
• Many people mentioned Smithfield but I think some of Smithfield’s issues have to do with this area not linking it up.