Wednesday, 30 October 2013

'the wind' ...

Photographing modernism in Ireland I almost missed one very important place in history of Irish architecture, planning and urban design and history at all. 
This place I would describe as an important and interesting from sociological and also technical point of view rather than architectural itself.
Ballymun flats and its area. 
This is the place where great ideas and dreams of planers failed almost instantly...

Remaining block of flats /2013/. Photograph taken on Direct Positive Paper.
Last Sunday I had an opportunity to spend some time on the streets of Ballymun with two fantastic people who grew up there and have a wonderful memories related to the flats when this place was shining. Jim and his brother Eric. These couple of hours I spent with them opened my eyes and allowed me to perceive Ballymun from completely different perspective...not as a 'Concrete Jungle' with many internal problems but also as a place with strong community integration. many thanks to both of them!
Most of the people are happy seeing all those flats going down. There is however  also significant group of those who would rather see this place booming as it was at the time when it was build, when the future of this place was very bright....for the very short time.
This is typical example of great ideas of creating new places for overcrowded cities in post war world, especially in Europe. Ideas related directly to famous modernists and their ideology, ideas of Garden Cities.
Ballymun was the answer (one of few) for huge housing problem in Dublin/Ireland those days.

The estate was built between 1966 and 1969 by the National Building Agency which was established specifically for the task. It comprised seven 15-storey towers, nineteen 8-storey blocks, ten 4-storey walk-ups and 400 single family houses. 
I would easily call it state of the art which may sound controversially but saying that I am thinking about its technical aspect rather then quality of architecture itself.
All those large, comfortable apartments (over half flats had three bedrooms) with underfloor heating, central hot water, flush toilets and lifts brought an amazing comfort of living. And we must remember that all of it was in Ireland in times when large families (sometimes around ten people) had to live often in one room in extremely poor condition.

Why its failed then?

Back of the local shopping centre /2013/
Such places which we can see all over the Europe needs properly designed and perfectly working infrastructure and maintenance. Lack of any of these elements along with mentioned sociological problems causes degradation of society. This is what has happened over there briefly. There was not enough money to finish what planers just started so many places like promised public swimming pool, meeting places and play areas were never built. People were left alone in the middle of nowhere.
During the 80s things got even worse due to economical crisis. Huge unemployment brought problems with robberies and drugs.
Today Ballymun is changing along with its inhabitants who remember old flats.

Now there is just 3 block of flats left. These buildings will be demolished very soon and Ballymun will step up into the next stage of its history.
Wandering among those abandoned structures you can hear only the wind and imagine how it was over there back in 60's...70's

Ballymun flats - Building that doesn't exist anymore with Maser's mural photographed many times before... 
I took this photograph in 2010

technical info:

During this trip I was using Sinar F2 with Schenider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 150mm 5.6, Harman/Ilford Direct Positive Paper 4x5 and Ilford FP4+ 4x5.
Also there is a roll of Kodak Tmax 400 exposed through hasselblad 500cm, Planar 80/2.8 and Distagon 50/4. This film will be processed soon and I hope to show some photographs soon my FB website.
The last photograph in this post was taken with Holga 120GN + Fomapan 400.

What else was engaged? strong wind and some rain...

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Bus Garage...

Sunday afternoon I packed my cameras, tripod and left my place going towards the second building I visited during this year Open House 2013 Festival. There was a bit of traffic at this time but there is also always place for bicycle. 
Yes, it is possible to cycle with Large and medium format cameras in bags and tripod. It is just a matter of proper loading the 'vehicle' haha
So I reached my destination with almost no time despite mentioned traffic. 

Donnybrook Bus Garage... completed in 1951 was designed by Michael Scott /Scott Tallon Walker/, author of another beautiful building photographed by me about a year ago - Busaras. 

Somehow I missed the slot with guided tour so had to wait about 30minutes for another. I decided to make a photograph waiting for it. 
The main part in the image was obvious. Famous structure of this classic building. 
Absolutely impressive!

Donnybrook Bus Garage
'Donnybrook was the first of seven other garages to be built and as the brief was similar for each, Michael Scott/Ove Arup proposed a modular shell construction solution with a column free 33.5m x12.2m bay size - 1.9m deep x 500mm wide beams supported the thin shell which varied in thickness from 75mm to 100mm. This innovative world first solution also included a continuous roof light at the apex. (...)'
 /info from leaflet delivered before each tour/

All of you who would like to know a little bit more about this particular garage and its authors please have a look at his LINK.

Donnybrook Bus Garage, Elevation

All process of preparation to make this image (the first one) and photographing itself took a little bit over 30minutes…I obviously missed another tour. Quick decision - I packed all equipment and cycled back to Dublin Port Centre to make one of the photograph presented in previous post…. 'View over the Port'.

Monday, 14 October 2013

View over the Port

I found at last a little bit of time to write a few words about Open House 2013 weekend and first of all show some photographs.
Organized by Irish Architecture Foundation Open House 2013, architectural festival is one of the most important annual events for me
This is great to see so many people visiting different buildings, queuing in the front of them or running through town with maps looking for certain locations.
Architecture is something more then just another form of expression which you can have a look at and walk away. It is three dimensional, something you can feel, touch, walk inside. There is also lots of different aspects related to each object you can perceive in so many ways. I am talking here about texture of used materials, form, style of the building, light penetrating interiors, the way how you feel inside, its impact on surrounding area and finally structure itself. 
All of it is fascinating once you can understand it.
Due to constant lack of time I was able to see only two buildings
this year
There was also third one but sadly it was open just on Friday…while Saturday or Sunday is the only time I can take a part in such a tour.
Anyway - two buildings…Both designed by Scott Tallon Walker, architects with a long tradition, history and many achievements.
Saturday morning. Short trip to the first place - Dublin Port Centre. Building was designed by Niall Scott, of Scott Tallon Walker in 1981. It's one of the youngest objects within 'Unfulfilled Dreams' series.  Niall was also a guide on our tour which gave us fantastic look inside the history of an all process  from inception to completion.

Here is fragment of description taken from beautifully printed booklet we received at the entrance:
'The Six storey office building is mounted on a raised podium which is also the roof to the lettable offices underneath. The building comprised of expressed concrete columns and windows are recessed 1.5m resulting in an overhang providing shading from the sun (...)'

Below you can see a few photographs. I should have a couple of more good images but somehow I loaded film in a strange way and just a half of the roll was exposed. It's all because of lack of morning coffee I suppose ;)

Dublin Port Centre

I was using that day Hasselblad 500cm with Distagon 50mm f4 loaded with Kodak TMax 400. No pushing.
Photograph presented above however was taken next day when I came back to capture some interesting forms with my large format camera /Sinar F2, Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar 150mm 5.6 and Fomapan 100 4x5 exposed at 64/.

Entrance Hall
Conference Room
Waiting Area

Front Elevation

Tomorrow or the day after I will present second building I visited during this year festival. Photograph are ready so it won't take such a long time as for this one ;)
Comments are always welcome. Thanks!