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Smithfield Public Space

Dublin City Centre

McGarry Ní Éanaigh Architects

Smithfield was the main outdoor market space in Dublin from the 17th C - a vast cobbled space with a particular elongated proportion, 335m long by 43m wide. In the latter half on the 20th C the space had degenerated into a surface carpark - thus the International Design Competition (1997) to re- establish it as the premier public space in Dublin.The scheme re-establishes an appropriate scale for Smithfield by the insertion of twelve 26.5m high lighting/brazier masts on the west side.The line of masts reinforces the length of Smithfield, establishes a dialectic with the existing 38m brick chimney and links the city to the River Liffey. The masts give Smithfield a presence on the city skyline and support lights, light reflectors, gas braziers, pa equipment and eventually market canopies. Lighting is achieved by concealed up-lighters shining onto powder- coated reflectors mounted halfway up the masts, which are hinged allowing assess for maintenance.The tactile character of Smithfield is established by its materials - granite sets and slabs given scale by inlaying a new pattern (a slow curve and diagonals) of granite flags into the existing cobbles.The pattern unifies the space and reinforces its asymmetry; the diagonals paths provide a smooth walking surface for all. Existing trees at the south end of the space are retained and associated with a new facilities building.The steps to this building to act as a ‘speakers corner’.The building houses technical back-up for the masts etc. Uses for Smithfield include an annual floral display, the staging area for the St. Patrick’s Day parade, the city marathon, political rallies, open-air gigs, “Freedom of the City” ceremonies.. The capacity of the Space is c. 12,000 people. Phase 1 extends from North King St. to the Haymarket Phase11 will follow after the east- west Luas l, is constructed across the southern end of the space.

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