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The Adorned City

Measuring iconic interventions

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The Hidden Room venue was Sean O’Casey Community Centre St Mary’s Road, East Wall, Dublin. The building was designed by award winning architects O’Donnell & Tuomey. The concept of the centre was to enrich and engage the local and greater community in the arts, culture, sports and education and to provide facilities to both young and old.

The guest speaker was Ray Ryan, the discussion was chaired by Barry Sheehan, and the DCC client was Bruce Philips. A full list of participants is below.

The group explored the following issue:

Investment in public projects should always strive to achieve the highest possible standards of design. Some designs however deliver an added value that go beyond the utilitarian to produce additional benefits, and may produce unexpected even extraordinary results, some of which may be considered as ‘iconic’ interventions. Is this added value dependent on additional financing, and is this a correct use of public funding? Who or what determines whether an intervention is ‘iconic’ and how can the ‘value for money’ impact be measured?



Ensuring maximum return and value for money is paramount when investing in public projects. Yet cost-benefit analyses of these investments are rarely undertaken, nor are studies of their impacts on local and community development. It is difficult therefore to ascertain the success or otherwise of these projects, and whether additional investment in their design may have achieved greater, or even exponential returns.

‘The word ‘iconic’ now suggests a cynical branding exercise’, according to a recent international publication, concluding that ‘Simple is the New Fancy

A number of sites in Dublin 8 would benefit from interventions to assist in their regeneration: the Chambers St. site, St. Luke’s Church, Newmarket Square and Cork St. – St. Luke’s Avenue.

‘Iconic intervention’ is a term that is often used as a supposed regeneration tool in a city. But what does these mean and is it possible or necessarily desirable to deliberately design an icon?

What should interventions on these sites be and who are they for? Should attempts be made to make them ‘iconic’ and how? What criteria could be used to measure the returns from these interventions?


Devise a 2015 pilot project to define and demonstrate the value of the iconic in the context of the regeneration of Dublin 8 sites.

Please see the group’s key slide plenary session presentation below.


Aisling Prior

Ali Rohan

Barry Sheehan - Chair

Bruce Phillips - DCC Client

Claire Farren

David Healy

John McGrane

John Tuomey

Katherine Scott

Lisa Godson

Louise Cotter

Mary Conway

Michael McDermott

Orlaith Ross

Ray Ryan - Guest Speaker

Cllr Rebecca Moynihan

Ruairi O’Cuiv

Sheila O’Donnell

Sorcha O’Sullivan - Visualiser

Willie White


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