Trees on the Quays

A Vertical Park from the Ruins3

Before the crash, Liam Carroll’s Zoe Developments Group was building a new headquarters for the Anglo Irish Bank on the North Wall Quay. But when Zoe Developments Group went into receivership in 2009, the planned Anglo headquarters sat dormant for years and turned into an eyesore on the river’s landscape.

Paschal Mahoney, owner of Mahoney Architecture, passed the shell frequently and began to dream of creative, sustainable ways to utilise the site for the betterment of our society. Together with community groups, artists, and others from the media, political, financial and business arenas, Mahoney Architecture founded the Trees on the Quays (TOTQ) initiative. Speaking to NewsFour Mahoney explained the intention, to promote the ruin “into an innovative Public Park and Urban Space”.

There are three main concepts incorporated into the TOTQ endeavour. The first is a Neighbourhood Park, on the ground level aimed towards children and their education in our native flora and fauna, which will include an inverted hill, forming a hallowed area. This is to be a public space to act as an open-air debating arena. The second idea relates directly to the shell of the Anglo Irish Bank’s offices. TOTQ plans to convert it into a Vertical Park. The current layout of the eight floors in the building will remain, but TOTQ suggests taking out levels between the stories to establish a “honeycombed lattice” with terraces, creating a “stepped landscape” in the shell of the building. Indigenous trees will be planted and wild flowers and plants will be introduced into the space. Within the core of the Vertical Park, a centre of education would be included to house exhibition areas and research facilities. A lift would be installed to allow for access to the roof, where an ellipsoid erection would accommodate a conference room. A cable car would travel from the roof of the Vertical Park to the South Quays, over the River Liffey, where commuters could enjoy all-encompassing views across the city skyline.

The TOTQ project was submitted to government ministers and departments, NAMA and the Central Bank. While many were in favour of the venture, the Central Bank formally signed the contract with NAMA to purchase the former Anglo Irish Bank headquarters for €7 million. The TOTQ group approached them explaining that if the Central Bank moves into this site, without implementing the TOTQ project, it could be sitting in a wasteland, which could continue for years to come. The group explained how the TOTQ project and the relocation of the Central Bank could very successfully co-exist in the location by showing their redesigned plans to include the Central Bank in another of the NAMA properties, which faces onto the parks in the TOTQ site. They clarified this by expounding how the development of the High Line Park in New York’s Meatpacking district has now become the city’s most successful tourist attraction. The High Line generates $8 billion in revenue for the Big Apple.

The TOTQ group are awaiting a response from the Central Bank and they remain hopeful that the Central Bank will also advocate the use of the site for the advancement of our citizens and as a showcase of our country’s future direction.

by Tracy O’Brien