The Best Place in the Whole Wide City. « Designing Dublin: Learning to Learn

The Best Place in the Whole Wide City.

We’ve talked to a lot of people, we’ve been all over the city, we had a great exhibition (lots of retroactive blogging to be done on that, you’ll see a big omnibus catch-up post over Christmas) and now the time has come to pick a place in the city to start prototyping our ideas. We’re looking for somewhere that needs more love. Somewhere that, like the awkward girl with glasses and bad hair in the cheesy teenage romcom, is just brimming with potential.

But where? There are so many places in the city that need a bit of love and attention.  We’ve decided to use GIS (Geographic Information Systems) to help us. It sounds complicated but the GISt (ho ho!) of is it is this; take a map.  Plot data about certain things on it. Keep the different kinds of data on separate layers (a little like photoshop).  Turn on and off certain layers until you can see correlations with different kinds of data.  Clear? No? Don’t worry, there’ll be an example in a moment.

To help me in my mapping, I decided to take three sample ares in the city, picked completely at random (I took a map and threw a marker at it. Scientific!). I then marked these mini-maps with different information to build up a picture of the place.

First of all, The Talbot Street/Marlborough Street/Lower Gardiners Street area.

Then I plotted all the commercial units. I’m going to turn off the map here, just so that the data points alone build up the picture.

Then added the residential.

Then the vacant units.

That big cluster of yellow up there is Marlborough Street. Very unloved altogether. Next I added schools and youth clubs.

Which gives us one lousy dot. The light blue one up there is a school and there are no green dots (youth clubs).  Interestingly, if this map had been a little tiny bit further north, enough to take in Sean MacDermott Street, we would have seen loads of dots, as well as dozens more blue residential  dots. But I digress.  Next I looked up apartments for rent on Daft.ie. I worked out the cost per room and plotted the locations.  The darker the dot, the more expensive the rent.

Finally, I tried to get information on crime statistics. Tricky. The Gardaí consider this confidential information and only release it averaged over large geographical areas. So I did the best thing I could, which was to plot the number of burglaries in an area. What I did was draw a large red dot – proportional in size to the number of burglaries – on top of the nearest Garda Station, in this case Store Street Garda Station.

Here we have the magnificent petri-dish of Talbot Street.

The process was repeated for the other two areas; Kevin Street/Harcourt Street:

Lots of residential spots here, as well as a surprising number of vacant units.

And here we have the Bolton Street/King Street North area:

So here we have a comparison between the three areas:

Note that there are far more burglaries on the south side than the north. Now, what’s interesting is if we take the Talbot Street are and compare it to the Kevin Street area with regards to number of residential units versus how many are available to rent;

You can see that there are a comparable amount of properties to rent and that both areas show a broad price range. However, the Talbot Street area has far fewer residential areas overall, while the Kevin Street area has loads.  What this might imply to me – and I’m only speculating here – is that perhaps people move to the Kevin Street area and stick there while there may be a much higher turnover of residents in the Talbot Street area.

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