| The planned One Berkeley Court Tower |
Developer Sean Dunne's Mountbrook Group on Thursday unveiled plans for the Jurys Berkeley Court 7 acre site at Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. The plan includes a new landmark 37 storey tower standing 132 metres, sculpted like a diamond. It will have at its base, a cultural quarter and will be positioned at the entrance to the former Jurys Hotel and be centred on the median of Pembroke Road.
The plan is a mixed use development combining a multitude of facilities for the area - consisting of generous family sized apartments, destination retail, which includes an underground mall, an embassy complex that can accommodate the relocation of some of the 29 embassies currently in Ballsbridge, an office block, a 232 bedroom luxury hotel, an ice rink, a crèche for 150 children and a cultural quarter which will incorporate an art house cinema, a jazz club, art galleries, artists’ studios, music rooms, rehearsal studios and a European Centre for Culture to become a focal point for the work of many cultural institutes.
Mountbrook will lodge a planning application with Dublin City Council today.
Last June, Dublin City Councilors rejected a local area plan for Ballsbridge, which would allow high rise developments up to 20 storeys.
Mountbrook acquired the 7 acre Ballsbridge site in 2005, at €54 million per acre, in what was, at the time, a record price for land in Ireland. A price which has since been significantly exceeded by a number of adjoining land transactions at varying prices from €83 million to €125 million per acre. Mountbrook, says that in an unusual initiative for a private developer, it embarked on a world-wide architectural competition. Architects from North America, Europe and Ireland entered the competition and the winning entry was designed by Henning Larsen Architects, based in Copenhagen. The brief was to provide architectural excellence in a mixed use city-centre district, being fully cognisant that Jurys/Berkeley Court, complex had a long tradition in being an important part of Dublin’s social and economic fabric.
A further requirement of the brief was to remove the railings and the gated environment that currently exists and, by so doing, open the site up to the public, and to give this important part of the city back to its people. Mountbrook says it also also sought to set new environmental standards in relation to sustainability and landscaping and is determined to create a development where people can live, work and play in a family orientated and friendly community, in the city centre.
Sean Dunne, Managing Director of Mountbrook said: “Ballsbridge has for a long time been wrongly portrayed by some as a village, whereas in actual fact it is a national centre, in that it houses the home of Irish rugby, the headquarters of AIB (the largest bank in Ireland), 1,500,000 square feet of offices, the Royal Dublin Society and is home to 29 embassies. Ballsbridge has for many years been defined by its Georgian and Victorian architecture which has remained well preserved from the 18th and 19th centuries. The 20th century, involved haphazard development which is today predominantly exemplified by the existing Jurys Hotel, Hume House, Carrisbrook House, Lansdowne House, Franklin House and, indeed, the Berkeley Court itself. We are now however in the 21st century”.
Mountbrook says that what was considered modern office space in the 1960s and early 1970s has now reached the end of its useful life and like the current development of the Lansdowne Road stadium, the cycle of developing Ballsbridge for the 21st century is now ready to commence. It is a widely held belief that, with the exception of the American Embassy, these buildings and structures are of no particular architectural value and for the most part are considered both outmoded and ugly.
While the Jurys/Berkeley Court site measures 7 acres, Mountbrook says that it has achieved the almost incredible feat of giving back nearly 9 acres to the people of Dublin. This will be achieved in the following manner: the permeability of the site provides almost 3 acres of new pedestrian streets while the underground mall, bars, restaurants, cafes, cultural facilities, ice rink and other public areas provide an additional 5.75 acres.
The landmark tower to be known as One Berkeley Court is best described by Ulrik Raysse, the concept design architect: “In the middle of the development stands the landmark residential tower, One Berkeley Court. It has its own special geometry and materiality. It is cut like a diamond. It was crucial for us to position the cultural programme at the base of the tower, so that the tower is not solely the landmark for the redevelopment of Ballsbridge, but also becomes a beacon for the cultural centre”.
Up to the early 1960s the site now proposed for redevelopment was the Trinity College Botanic Gardens which were relocated to Palmerston Park in Dartry, Dublin 6. The brief recognised this and the proposed landscaping for the site incorporates the planting of 220 mature trees of 110 species and the creation of 3 acres of horticulture at many different levels.
The development will create a new benchmark for sustainable living in Ireland. Through a range of energy efficiency measures, on-site generation and partnerships with green power providers, it is estimated to emit 75% less CO2 than a comparable development existing on the fringes of Dublin City today. The ultimate goal is to achieve 100% reduction i.e. zero carbon emissions.
The current Dublin City Development Plan (2005-2011) lists as one of its objectives the need for a district retail centre in Ballsbridge. Mountbrook says from an early stage it has been acutely aware that the proposed redevelopment of Jurys/Berkeley Court affords the City Council the opportunity of meeting this critical objective and these facilities are now provided in Mountbrook’s planning application.
The plan proposes two office blocks. One has been earmarked for diplomatic use, reflecting the area’s rich tradition in accommodating the many embassies and cultural institutes. This proposal is consistent with the allowable uses in the current Dublin City Development Plan (2005 – 2011).
The second office block is not compatible with the existing zoning. The existing zoning is Z1 - preservation of residential amenity – however, this zoning does not acknowledge the fact that the site has been used commercially since the 1960’s. At present there are only 16 residential apartments on the site, located in a block mid-way between the existing Berkeley Court and Jurys Hotels. The rest of the site has been in commercial use since it ceased being the Trinity College Botanic Garden.
Mountbrook says it is playing its part in the need to halt the drastic, unsustainable urban sprawl of Dublin which has now reached the boundaries of Leinster. The proposal leads the way in demonstrating how Dublin can be redeveloped. Most people now recognise that Dublin can only go up, or indeed down, but cannot continue to spread into adjoining counties.
The plans will be on public display at the Berkeley Court Hotel from 12 – 6pm this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
| Sean Dunne, Managing Director, Mountbrook Group; Joan O’Connor, Project Manager and Ulrik Raysse, Henning Larsen Architects. |
Finfacts Comment: In the 1960's two "skyscraper" office developments were built in Ireland - Liberty Hall in Dublin and the County Hall in Cork. Also in the sixties, the building of a series of high rise blocks in Ballymun, North Dublin, were seen as a solution to a public housing crisis.
The experience at Ballymun - public housing for young families with limited or no amenities - where no one had a personal stake in their units, has led to what can be termed "Ballymun Syndrome."
High-rise buildings have become a taboo in Ireland and apart from Ballymun, the process has been aided by a ramschackle/corrupt planning system and the power of Nimbies (Not-in-My-Backyard) with a spectrum of interests.
There is no development today that does not involve payoffs/shakedowns as part of the planning process - whether it is payoffs of individuals or resident associations taking advantage of the planning process to finance a desired enhancement for their areas.
The option shouldn't have been there in 2005 for the JurysDoyle Group to cash in on the property boom through the destruction of two of Dublin's leading hotels. However, now two-years later, the issue again is about high-rise and the time has come to move beyond Ballymun Syndrome.
It's almost forty years since the Cork County Hall was built and now Dublin is forecast to soon have a footprint the same size as Los Angeles with less than a quarter of its population!
Mountbrook Fact Sheet (Pdf 2MB)
Whitaker's Ireland and the planned destruction of two of Dublin's premier hotels
Golden Fleece: Ballsbridge, Property Shakedowns, Nimbies, Developers and Selfless Politicians