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Archive for the ‘Una’ Category

Nuclear Fusion

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

In physics, nuclear fusion occurs when two separate elements, like hydrogen and helium are forced together. Through the exertion of extreme pressure and temperature, a surge of energy as powerful as the sun is suddenly released until the hydrogen and helium are completely transformed, producing an entirely new force in the universe. This is how the stars are created.

- a very unscientific book, Simple Abundance, Breathnach, S.

At a certain point you’re poised for critical mass – that point when a self-sustaining chain reaction occurs. I could feel the energy in the Designing Dublin room today.

It’s gonna be nuclear fusion baby, nuclear fusion.

Visit from the Pivot Dublin bid team

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Today we had a very inspiring and affirming visit from the PivotDublin team charged with the bid for Dublin to be World Design Capital 2014 who requested to view our work to date as presented by the team. http://www.pivotdublin.com/

This was an opportunity for the team to practice presenting and articulating our work again and, in addition, to understand and query the bid team’s work.

The feedback from the Pivot Dublin team was a tremendous validation of our approach and output. It opened up in our minds the potential for post-project appropriation of such insights and process work and the opportunity for entrepreneurial morphing of what we do at Designing Dublin that can add value to a range of businesses and sectoral interests.


Below are a sense of comments made (paraphrased):

“The work is fantastic and captures very well the soft issues at work in the city”

“The insights you are developing here are like commercial gold-dust to many parties. You should uncover the commercial relationships of these market insights”

“Insight is wonderful; it is like a drug. The move from insights to action is more difficult. Sometimes, aswell as mapping the soft issues, you need to overlay these with the political and funding issues at work to navigate a way through to action”

“I would love to bring in the Chamber of Commerce and another city to show them your work”

“I would like to commend you on your website blog. It really helps one understand the work”

“You should develop more the editing down of your work so that it can be easily digested”

Some Insights….

“According to Failte Ireland, one of the top reasons tourists visit Dublin is because they feel safe here and the largest numbers visit in the months of Jan Feb Mar Oct Nov.” I bet that surprises you!

“The river is a massive divide North-Southside. The missing potential is networking the city across the river. By looking at where people go, where they know or where they perceive the city centre, you uncover where they don’t go”

“In terms of way-finding in the city, the universal design challenge in Dublin last year indicated that there are different routes taken from origin to destination point based on ability, not necessarily the quickest.”

Some advice….

There were mixed views on our planned mapping exercise:

“The presentation was 1000% until you got to the mapping. You have clearly articulated the soft issues and insights you discovered through your street conversations and formal conversation but it seems you now want to force these identified challenges now into a geographical space when infact they exist in a virtual space. They may not the represented appropriately in a physical space”

“It is good to use mapping for the city but you need to be sure to map not just by numbers but also the emotions. Don’t let the mapping dominate or reduce your insights to a deterministic ‘ta-da!’ level at the expense of your gut”

“I think mapping is important. Geography is important. Because people typically talk about issues in the city in the context of space and place.”

The team defended the mapping as simply being one tool in the toolbox and that the soft processes used in research phase would be re-applied in practice in the prototyping phase in the working area chosen.

Designing Dublin on the Pivot Dublin team’s work….

The Designing Dublin team expressed the hope that Ireland’s design potential would be represented as systemic, design-thinking, process-led design versus superficial stylistic fetishism and nice pictures.

The city centre is the river

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

As part of our mapping preparation the team was asked to mark on a map what they considered Dublin’s city centre. I see the city centre as the river…. Why?…

The city was founded on a river.

It traded and was conquered by boats up a river.

The river forms a trail between the most unique park in Europe and the sea, our original portal to the world.

The river breathes life into the city, a constant current and thread through time.

We cross the river daily to go about our business. The river lets us breathe in the busy-ness.

When visitors come to take stock of Dublin, they look down the river or up the river to imprint its weave and shape on their eye.

The river reflects the sky, the shifts of the shapes of the clouds, the light we so enjoy and somehow reconnects us to something beyond.

And I think it is no coincidence that all our exchanges – people, movement, services and goods gravitate towards the river and always have.

It is the most undervalued, under-utilised, abused but nonetheless most constant, persistent and durable asset of the city.

It has rich opportunity for generating economic, social and environmental capital – the quay as promenade.

We should adorn it with people, playfulness, pathways, beautiful buildings rather than ruining our enjoyment of it with cars and noise.


Exhibition – what next?

Friday, November 26th, 2010

Exhibition @ Filmbase Innovation Week

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

We talked to 2000 people on the streets. They told us what they loved about Dublin and their favourite hidden gems. We recorded the places, the people and their words and put them in an exhibition – indoors …and we put tags on the actual places -outdoors. We put them on a map so you can visit them….

As they say, you’d have to have been there….but here are some images and thoughts that capture the exhibition for me…..

Magic in the everyday…………………….

Under Dublin’s skin, Skin!………………….

Remembering the things we love and how we love them…………

Dublin by Dubliners………………………….

Exhibits that are a phrase – everyone can add another…………….

‘The universal in the particular’………….

Personal connection to places…………………………

Stories beneath the familiar………………………….

Like discovering a hidden basement………………………………….

Seeing with fresh eyes………………………………….

Dubliners getting tickled……………………………..

Reconnection with the quirks of the city…………………………

Feeling renewed pride………………………………..

A lift in the darkness…………….

Dubliners come out to play……………………………

Meditations on the simple pleasures……………………

Voices of the people not the academy or the literati…..

Authenticity of place and moments………………………

I rambled into Dublin and look what I found……………..

The city is not just places and spaces but feelings, thoughts, light, shade…………………

The city is not one thing or another but all things together…………………………

Familiarity and pride – ‘I’ve know that place, I’ve been there’
mixed with …………………………………….

Curiosity and adventure – ‘I never noticed that or saw it that way – I want to go there’
mixed with……………………..

Excitement and possibility – ‘I have something to add that no one’s discovered’…………..

Senior Citizens – Street Engagement Meath Street

Friday, November 5th, 2010

2 Nov 2010 – Mary, John, Una, Brian
Location: Meath Street

On 2 Nov we hit the Liberties to engage in street conversations on Meath Street. We asked them about their memories of the city, places they loved/ love, the challenges they face and what they think that they could offer the city. The insights and results are below:


The elderly in Meath St area like to do the following things in the city:

- Go to mass
- Go to church events
- Have a cup of tea
- Take their grandchildren out
- Get their hair done
- Go to local shops
- Chat

The elderly would like:

- Old style dancing events
- To have services close to bus stops ( due to mobility difficulties)
- To be respected and heard more
- To express themselves
- To be visited
- To share their life experiences
- To be acknowledged ( for their contribution made to society in their life)

The elderly would be ideally targeted with one page questionnaires to their homes asking for their input because:

- They like to respond when written to
- They have time
- They like to take time to answer questions
- They want their voice to be heard and often they cannot get out/contribute/participate

What Senior Citizens said…..

Memories & Magical Places

- The day Dusty Lawlor died. Dusty Lawlor was an old character from the Liberties and a Painting commemorating him is in Kennedy’s Pub, Thomas Street
- Man remembers an incident at the stalls in Meath street: A chinese woman was handling the bananas at the stall and after some time the stall holder says ‘It’s not a mickey love, it wont get any bigger!’
- Francis street
- Liberty Bell Pub – local feeling
- The character ‘Bang Bang’. He was famous for hanging off the old Dublin Buses with doors at the back shouting ‘bang bang!’. He is remembered by a painting at the Liberty Fountain in Meath Street.
- Bothar na Breena (edge of Wicklow mountains)
- Hellfire club
- Marsh Library near Christchurch – has ghost and love stories associated with it. Bring grandchildren there and they love it
- Hand prints where a man was shot just inside the doors of Dublin Castle
- Re-open Francis Street Market, it is a beautiful building with beautiful doors
- Maryland – named after st Mary – a community of 7 streets off Cork Street.
- Liberty Market on Thur and Fri – it’s alive!
- Mannings- new name, new owner – nice cup of tea.
- Adam and Eve’s, St Anthony’s Church, Arran Quay.
- Henry Street, Talbot Street, M&S
- Brazen Head
- Miss the old ice-cream parlours Caffola’s
- Mother of Good Council event at John’s Lane Church used to be packed
- St Catherine’s Churh – Robert Emmet was hung there 1803
- Iveagh Market


- Everything!
- There are no call-outs to old people in own homes
- Some of the flats in my complex on Bride Street are boarded up and at the same time people are homeless
the rent is high
- Clean up the area of Bride Street Flats
- Threat of Dublin Bus pass being removed; is a lifeline for old people ( eg. I come from Drimnagh to Meath street once/week on bus because I cannot walk to my local church), I go to mass here, get my hair done and do a bit of shopping. I love it.
- People not saying thanks
- Feel very sad that character is gone, concrete jungle
- Hate ladies clubs – too gossipy
- Less sharing in community than in the past. When the old people die here it’s all gone because the children moved away
- Less foreigners

Elderly contributing to / participating in city

- By giving advice from their lives ( eg. I used to be in the foreign legion)
- Send out questionnaires to old people – one page simple – they love for their voice to be heard and they often cannot get out. This also gives them time to think, they like time.
- Bring back the old-time dancing
- Set up drama group, old people can express themselves
- More listening
- More inclusion/ respect for our voice

Developing a Process to Engage Stakeholders

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

Aims & objectives

• To identify key stakeholders and users in the city.
• To establish who would be useful to talk to, to draw insights about opportunities in the city to increase footfall
• To consider what questions can create rich answers and directions
• To consider how to ask these questions, in what groupings and what context to maximum effect
• To design a process to engage in a conversation with a specific group of stakeholders to deliver rich outcomes.

The Stakeholders

I worked with another team member Ciaran to develop a process for the following group of stakeholders:
• a teenage gay lad from Castleknock who wants to move to London
• a 45 year old cyclist in Fairview who used to enjoy town but prefers suburban cycling
• a 55 year old stall holder who moved her stall to a market outside the city
• a 38 year old Nigerian in Finglas who has just got legal status here; and
• a 24 year old art graduate living with her parents in Howth and volunteering at an art studio in the city hoping to find space to exhibit.

The Theme

We identified that the commonality among this group was that there as a love for the city but that they faced obstacles in the city and that help, understanding and support would be important elements for these people.

Why this Theme is Important?

This theme is an important one because if obstacles are not acknowledged or addressed or if these individuals feel unsupported or marginalised, the result will be disaffection from the city. Obstacles can be turned into opportunities.

Engagement Process

We will meet these stakeholders at our offices on Ormond Quay. We will wait for them downstairs and welcome them in the foyer, put them at ease. We will have an ice-breaker upstairs in advance of taking them on a walk in the nearby Capel Street area. Upstairs we will ask them 2-3 questions about their experience of Capel Street and note their answers. We will then introduce some key questions we would like them to consider during our walk. Capel street is an area of obstacles and opportunity. We will walk with them for 30-40 minutes pointing out examples of obstacles that have been or could be turned into opportunity and express the diversity on this single street

• A derelict site
• A warehouse converted to residential unit
• A Polish bakery
• A Polish supermarket
• A premises to let
• Space above the shops
• New exotic vegetables in Dublin
• Outhouse -for the Gay lesbian Bisexual Transgender community.
• A node of Dublin Bikes

After our walk we will take them to the Tea Garden on the quays (another obstacle overcome) for 40 minutes and sit in this quiet space to discuss what we saw, draw them out on their experiences and their thoughts on the first questions set.. We will use a second set of questions at the Tea Garden that will be inserted into blown up balloons which they will burst to release.

We intend that the walk on Capel street will open their minds to the richness of the city and to get them to talk enthusiastically about the aspects of the city they like.

100 Ideas – Una

Friday, October 8th, 2010

We each came up with 100 ideas for projects or initiatives that could be developed in the Love the City Project (to get people to love Dublin or engage more with it) under 5 x themes:

• Storytelling in the city
• Enterpreneurship
• Society
• Interaction
• Spirit

Working Methodology

It was mostly informal, spontaneous rather than a conscious or defined method in advance. My ideas came from:

• Walking the route Ormond Quay to O’ Connell St after work
• Sitting on the bus and observing the streets
• Using overheard conversations as stimuli
• Talking to others
• Listening to speakers
• Adapting ideas from the my own 100 examples collected
• Adapting ideas from the other team members’ 100 examples collected

100 examples – Una

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Working Methodology

We each identified 100 examples of existing interesting projects or initiatives that could be interesting to apply to the Love the City Project under 5 x themes:

1. Storytelling in the city
2. Entrepreneurship
3. Society
4. Interaction
5. Spirit

I used the following method to find the examples:

• Define the theme
• Explode the theme
• Choose examples from memory
• Walk in the city for stimuli
• Google using thesaurus and key phrases
• Look at international examples
• Photograph elements of Dublin
• Get new angles from work of team members

Testing a Design Project ‘Table Mats’ – Testing Storytelling as an Engagement Tool in the City

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

This project was one of 20 ideas developed under the theme of storytelling in the city. It was mocked up in afew hours and tested in a Dublin restaurant, LemonJelly on Millenium Walk, Italian Quarter, Dublin 1, lunchtime. There was a positive response from management, waiting staff and customers. Management would be happy to repeat.


To test the idea of using table-mats in restaurants to communicate, elicit or provoke engagement with Dublin city among citizens using the theme of storytelling


Sitting down to eat is a time for pause, reflection and often involves a waiting period for food to arrive whether alone or with friends. It is a natural context and opportunity for conversation. Often one fiddles with the salt or reads what one finds lying on the table. It is an ideal moment in which to have a conversation with a tablemat!

Design Prototypes

Various table mat designs were developed to get people engaged in a fun way, some to draw out feelings about Dublin, others to try different engagement tools eg. inviting to write, inviting to make, inviting to tell a story.


• can be readily produced
• low budget
• flexible in their content
• facilitate thematic content
• can bringing together various stakeholders under an objective
• have widespread reach
• have volume use
• can be collected for 2-way feedback loop
• can be posted
• can be used stand-alone or with facilitation

Sample Applications

• collect stories from Dubliners
• collect opinions
• show thematic maps of the city
• ask questions of Dubliners
• provoke conversations at meals
• display surprising statistics about Dublin
• invoke memories of Dubliners