IWAI - Dublin Branch

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 Royal Canal Linear Park

On 16th March 2005, The Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland (RIAI) organised a landscape design competition (promoted by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority) for a one kilometre linear public park on the banks of the Royal Canal in Dublin’s Docklands. The park should "be suitable for active and passive recreation, incorporating cycle and pedestrian routes along the Royal Canal."  Candidates entering the competition were asked to assume a construction budget in the region of €15 million

The competition objectives included the provision of public amenity green space and facilities for youth recreation, both of which are currently in short supply in the area. It is also envisaged that the linear park will provide an appropriate environment for boating activities and develop a strategic route through the north Docklands along the canal. 

Winning design selected 22 Nov. 2005

64 entries were received  Quoting the RIAI website:

"The winner is entry 49 by Agence Ter from Paris. It is a distinctive design with a strong idea that broke out of the tripartite division of most entries by taking the entire space of the dock and its banks and occupying parts of the water with garden and parts of the land with water. It successfully generated a variety of spaces and connectivity to the water by occupying parts of the dock itself with floating gardens. The project evoked a strong poetic vision of a series of gardens that bloom throughout the year. The flexible strategy adopted allows for different degrees of occupation as required and is not dependent on a single fixed configuration.

One of the jury expressed concern about the density of the occupation of the water body and all agreed that this could be addressed in further studies and, because of the flexible approach, the scheme would not suffer as a result of this. It was also noted that the respective levels of water and banks would require careful study as the design develops.

Agence Ter, themselves describe the park as "The Harlequin Garden" - Rectangular in form, gardens are placed in or out of the water, real or implied barges moored to structuring stone lines which are the main circulation corridors.

Information Memorandum issued 16 Jan. 2007

An Information Memorandum was issued to elicit interest from candidates and consortia to progress the project, i.e. development of approximately 1km of the Royal Canal, running from North Wall Quay to Amiens Street.  16 February 2007 was the deadline for sumbissions

From the Information Memorandum, the "DDDA wishes to develop as a Linear Park approximately 1kM of the Royal Canal from the River Liffey at North Wall Quay to Amiens Street. When completed, this park will provide an important infrastructural link for this part of the city. Included in the outline scheme are

• Floating Pontoon structures;

• Pedestrian bridges;

• Floating cafes;

• Barge Decks;

• Water gardens;

• Floating lawns;

• Parks & playgrounds;

• Street furniture;

• Fences and shelters;

The development of the Linear Park will be executed in phases:

Phase 1

This extends from Sherriff Street Bridge at the north of the park to the proposed LUAS road bridge that will cross the canal at Mayor Street at the south. It is bounded to the east by Guild Street and to the west by the Spencer Dock Development. Possession of this land is currently under negotiation and expected in the first quarter of 2007. Other developments in this Phase that are being developed by other agencies include:

New Docklands railway station Iarnród Eireann is currently procuring a new temporary railway station that will service the docklands and is expected to open in March 2007. This will be situated at the north east side of Spencer Bridge adjacent to Sherriff Street and provide an alternative new terminus for the Maynooth commuter line. The Linear Park will interface with this station under the existing bridge arches at Sherriff Street Bridge.

New LUAS Mayor Street Bridge.

The RPA are currently procuring a new bridge which will cross the dock on an east / west axis to facilitate the extension of the LUAS line from Connolly Station to the Point Depot. It is anticipated the LUAS extension will be operational in early 2010.  Although these agencies will engage their own design teams for these projects, due to the large stakeholder involvement of this site, the Candidate should be aware a level of cooperation and sharing of information is envisaged with these agencies.

Phase 2

This is bounded by the River Liffey to the south and the new LUAS bridge at Mayor Street to the north. Guild Street and the site for the National Conference Centre to the west and east bound the site. Possession of this land is currently under negotiation and expected in the first quarter of 2007.

Refurbishment of the Spencer Dock sea lock

Located within the southern part of this Phase, this project is being undertaken by the Authority in conjunction with Dublin City Council (DCC) & Waterways Ireland (WWI). Negotiations are currently under way to let this contract which will involve the entire replacement of the gates to Spencer Dock that provide access from the Royal Canal to the Liffey. Once complete, the water level upstream of this within the canal will be controlled at between 1.6 & 1.99 above mean OD.  [...]

Phase 3

... runs from Sherriff Street Bridge to Amiens Street. This is on land yet to be acquired by the Contracting Authority. ....


New Luas Bridge Design unveiled for the Royal (April 2007)

The Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) and the Dublin Docklands Development Authority appointed London based architects, Future Systems and Arup Engineers to design the bridge. The resulting structure is almost as wide as it is long to accommodate the Luas tram lines and traffic lanes. It broadens and dips down in the middle with curved walkways and cycle paths on either side to take pedestrians and cyclists close to the water. Specially designed lighting will emphasise its unusual, floating structural quality.  Architect Amanda Levete describes the Luas Bridge as “incredibly slender, soft and languid. It curves up at the edges like a manta ray. We wanted it appear as a piece of land art that relates to the park”.  Headroom will be 3m with the basin operating at a level of 1.6m OD (Malin).

Spencer Docks

For more photos see here

On 13th September 2004 Waterways Ireland issued a notice entitled "TEMPORARY NAVIGATION CLOSURE SPENCER DOCK, ROYAL CANAL, DUBLIN"

Waterways Ireland proposes to prohibit navigation at the above location in accordance with Bye-Law 18 (1) of the Canals Act, 1986 (Bye-Laws), 1988, for the period commencing 4th October 2004 to the 1st May 2005. This closure is required for the following purposes:

- to put in place emergency flood protection measures for the East Wall Area;

- to undertake site investigation and survey works.

On 25th April, 2005 Marine Notice #6 of 2005 extended this closure to 2006.  It was again extended by Marine Notice '7 of 2006 to May 2007.  This notice was modified in late 2007/early 2008 to have an end date of 31s May 2008.

We note a DDDA press release from 23-08-2005 that said "After many years, the juncture of the Royal Canal and the River Liffey will again be navigable with the announcement of a project to restore the Spencer Dock sea lock in Dublin's Docklands"

On 11 August 2005 (a full year after the closure) we noted in the Irish Times that "Dublin City Council seeking expressions of interest from contractors to restore the sea-lock at Spencer Dock and install flood defences."

Marine Notice 2006#7: extended the closure at Spencer Dock until May 2007.

In November 2007, work has finally begun on the seaward lock of Spencer Dock, with work due to start on the landward lock shortly.  Work has also begun on re-excavating Spencer Dock to its original dimensions.

The picture at right (taken 10/02/08) shows where a section of the channel just north of the Scherzer bridges on the quay has been cut away to allow for placement of the Sector Gates. The beautifully curved stonework of the channel is also apparent from the photo.

The original sea locks were located under the Scherzer bridges.  The landward locks are 53m upstream.  The new design sees the original locks replaced with a set of Sector Gates. Sector Gates can handle scenarios where the head of water is either side of the gates and are frequently used where canals or marinas encounter tidal waters such as the Liffey.  The project is due for completion at the end of 2008.

The picture below shows the first of the gates being swung into place.

The photo at right shows the new sea locks in situ on 16/08/08



Construction of the International Convention Centre started Monday 19/11/07.


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