15 Aug 2008

In the post of a couple of weeks ago when I drifted into science fiction mode about the character of Sandyford (what else could I do? what else could anyone do?), I said I’d follow up with some commentary on other planning spawn of the Celtic Tiger. Commenter 'Joe R' mentioned 'Belmayne' – that place at the junction of the N32 and M50 Extension currently being advertised by the Redknapps, so we’ll start with Belmayne.

Belmayne (if you’re not familiar with it, it’s sort of between Dublin Airport and a Tescos, having a Hilton Hotel).

The difference between Sandyford and Belmayne is that while Sandyford has some kind of weird character Belmayne doesn’t have any. Never have so many buildings stood side by side to such little effect. It’s worse than Phoenix Arizona. Phoenix – a place which makes LA look a Tuscan Hill Town – doesn’t care whether you like it or not. Belmayne, on the other hand, wants you to like it. But, for all its effort, Belmayne feels curiously temporary: like a Siberian oil town where, when all the oil runs out, the whole place will be dismantled, the 08 reg Beamers will vanish and everyone will go back to where they were originally from.

Can't you just imagine it? In twenty years time when someone introduces themselves by saying ‘Hi. I’m from Belmayne’, you’ll be quietly thinking ‘… and yet you seem so normal.’

The shopping centre and retail park are what we’ve come to expect from these kinds of places – they’re lively, they sell stuff, you can have your lunch and then go home and forget your were ever there. No, my problem with Blanchardstown is the rest of it, mainly those tall buildings along the N3. It reminds me of towns in the very northern extremes of the Lower 48 I occasionally found myself in in years gone by where synthetic suits and plastic soled sneakers seemed appropriate dress for every occasion. When in Blanchardtown, supermarket coupons seem strangely interesting to me. The tall office buildings look like places where the people inside never go for coffee at the same time for fear they’d get caught in a conversation. The canteens, I'm sure, are fully automated.     

Since that curious looking apartment building has gone up at the junction of the sea and the main street, Salthill puts me in mind of a Soviet Era Baltic resort. Salthill makes the temperature feel ten degrees cooler than it actually is; it makes the wind feel like its always coming from the north; it makes the sea look too cold to swim in.

Carlow Town
Carlow Town looks like first year architecture students were given an urban study to complete and then, by some inexplicable mistake, the project got built. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2008 5:33:59 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
How about the rejuvenated Tallaght Town Centre area?...there is a new square with a marks and sparks and a clunky new civic sculpture in front of Tallaghts exceedingly plain new grey library...there is also a huge Starbucks and a Captain Americas and lots of current 30 second architectural cliches!...what more do you need?...the new street/plaza can't seem to decide what they are...for shopping transit through, civic some kind of relaxed mix?...the building block housing Woodies stands out as particularly out of scale and ill considered...plants seem to be a total no-no...as is use of the imagination and or vision...all told makes Slough look coherent and quaint on the whole.
Joe R. ( again)
Wednesday, September 03, 2008 8:59:24 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Following your great comment, and not all that familiar with the area, I decided on the way back from Dublin the other day to make a detour into Tallaght.
But, Joe, you'll have to help me out on this - when you're in Tallaght, how do you know when you've arrived? I kept driving past the entrance to the shopping centre but when I tried to park I ended up outside the Garda station (where, I might add, they're very quick to tell you to move on).
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