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Heart of Dublin


Currently all areas in the City are treated in the same way - demonstrated by the repetition of traffic rules/regulations across the whole city despite very different needs in different areas. (The M50 gets the same road markings and traffic signage treatment as the medieval city centre of Dublin.)

Often the "city centre" and "city living" are perceived as unsuitable for long-term living (the Dublin House project attempted to look at one aspect of this), particularly with children. Part of this is a need for more space -  safe space for playing very near their home, space for trees and plants, space for waste storage, space for bicycle storage, more space for walking here here

Street conversations (of which I took part) in which a lot of families said that the reason that they didn't come to Dublin City to shop was because of stress due to traffic (having to constantly hold their children's hands)

We don't take density into account - for air quality, noise, space requirements, etc.

We tend to jump to imagine solutions being provided everywhere. It would be useful to have a very clear, pre-defined set of areas, that we could use when discussing ideas and rolling them out. 

There's an entire area with the centre of Dublin City that all has a speed limit of 30kph. Can you easily picture where it begins and ends in your mind? When driving, do you immediately and clearly know when you've entered it, and are again exiting it? 

Many of our national laws are not particularly suitable for urban-living, architecturally-rich, environments perhaps as a consequence of our relatively young status as a country and our cultural inexperience of managing urban environments. 

Have confidence in our own vision for Dublin City - as opposed to attempting to match the suburban 'shopping mall' experience. Instead do the exact opposite and double-down on what's great about the centre of Dublin City. 

Have a clear concept to aim towards as a city, and that everyone understands. From my architectural background, I'm used to developing and clearly knowing what "my concept" was for a building, which then acted as a north-star for all decision-making. I also used to have a rule - the concept should be simple enough that someone would understand it and could sketch it after seeing it only for a few seconds, but that it would have rich layers of detail as you got closer and closer. (To give you an example from a well-known building, see this concept of Sydney's Opera House versus a closer detail.) 

National Park City  

How might we...

  • Rebrand the image of "the city centre".
  • Create a 21st Century vision for Dublin.
  • Make the city core an enjoyable place to visit (or live in), particularly for families.
  • Create a clear and simple concept that then guides all future decisions. 
  • Create clear transitions at different locations to signal that different rules and expected behaviours apply in that area. (At the moment, there's very little difference apparent between most areas of Dublin.) 
  • Why different zones? Different uses, different densities of people, different living conditions, the inherent differences between a medieval layout designed around walking and horses and a suburban one designed to facilitate the car. But at the moment, we're generally treating all areas in a similar way. 
  • Use pre-prescribed zones as a tool when making decisions about the city. 


Exploring the concept of ‘zones’

Currently all areas in the City are treated in the same way - demonstrated by the repetition of traffic rules/regulations across the whole city despite very different needs in different areas. Could we create zones in which there's a clear meaning associated with that particular area of the city - and acknowledge that when we’re dealing with a city and an urban environment that we have 'permission' to approach it in a different way. Such an approach might be useful internally within Dublin City Council, or they might be useful for developing and fostering a certain mindset in the city's populace. 

In order for zones to be effective, it’s crucial that it’s obvious to users where they begin and end. Historically, and in other countries ‘zones’ arise naturally, or are boundaried (by wall/canal etc). These are useful in that they:

  1. Strengthen ‘the sense of entry’ (think of entering a medieval city - it's both clear and dramatic that you've entered a different place). 
  2. Enable a ‘set of rules’ (or values, or brand) to be associated with that place.

Fried egg analogies

We could think of the city as a single fried egg - with a pedestrian-priority core (the egg yolk) and a surrounding area of liveable streets (the egg white), sitting in a wider city (the frying pan). 

Or the city may not be so neat, and so we might prefer to think of it as a city of multiple 'villages' with multiple cores and pedestrian-priority areas.

Existing use of Zones

Dublin City Council already uses different zones when thinking about Dublin City - for example the "central commercial district" sits inside the "city centre" which sits inside Dublin City Council's full administrative area. 

Or here's the plan for the orbital signage routes. 

Or here's what we define as the central shopping area / retail core.

Or here's what the City Council defines as the Central Commercial District (CCD)...

Or here's where the public realm strategy wishes to create a pedestrian friendly core.

Dublin Zones

We possibly have 2 types of zone at present???

  1. Pedestrian-priority areas (zone type A - heart of dublin) 
  2. Urban neighbourhoods (zone type B - liveable city centre)

These zones should be aiming for these values. 

The zones are broken up by link streets which give access to, and surround, neighbourhood cells. There's a clear sense of threshold when crossing into a different zone. 


Zone(s) A - Heart of Dublin / Open Streets / Core Streets 

Feeling within the Zone 

  • Relaxed and calm, but lots of people moving and sitting.
  • Busy shops, cafes/restaurants and entertainment
  • Sounds of people chatting and laughing, children playing, birdsong. No motorised traffic noise. 
  • The streets and the air feels clean and fresh. 
  • Parents feel relaxed without feeling a need to hold their child's hand.
  • Clean, uncluttered, high-quality. 

Overall Zone

  • XX high-quality street materials.

Link Streets 

  • 20kph (or 'momentum limits')
  • Bicycle and cargo bike
  • Cycle segregation not needed (ie bicycle streets)
  • No motorised vehicles (except emergency vehicles, disabled vehicles?) 

Neighbourhood Cells

  • Pedestrian priority 'except cyclists'. (Bicycles are 'guests') 
  • No onstreet parking
  • Numerous seating 
  • Numerous trees 

Thresholds (crossing between Zones B and A)

  • Clear sense of crossing into a different zone with a clear set of 'rules'. 
  • ​Zebra crossings at all arms of all junctions.


Zone(s) B - Living Streets / Liveable Streets 

Overall Zone 

  • Zero emissions 
  • Clean air zone
  • Quiet streets
  • Axle licence
  • No to certain things...eg SUVs, diesel, etc.
  • No road markings

Link Streets 

  • 30kph (or 'momentum limits')
  • All zebra crossings
  • No onstreet parking
  • No "bus lanes" but instead shared lanes with traffic reduction. 
  • Segregated cycle infrastructure. 
  • No secondary traffic lights
  • Level crossings at side-street junctions (ie junctions into cells).
  • Tree-lined stree

Neighbourhood Cells 

  • Filtered permeability (ie People can continue to walk or cycle through the area, and residents or visitors can drive into and around the area, but people can't drive through the neighbourhood in order to take a shortcut.)
  • 20kph (or 'momentum limits') 
  • Physical design of streets ensures adherance to the speed limit, not reliance on signage and enforcement. 
  • Onstreet car parking
  • Parking to different conditions (size, noise, pollution, etc)
  • Controlled parking zone (signage at periphery, rather than on every street multiple times).
  • Electronic parking only (no pay-and-display)
  • Pedestrian and bicycle priority, vehicles are 'guests'
  • BikeBunkers 
  • Parklets 
  • Rain Box Planters 
  • Residents parking priority 

Thresholds (crossing between Zones C and B)

  • Clear sense of crossing into a different zone with a clear set of 'rules'. 
  • "All green" signalled pedestrian crossings at all arms of all junctions.
  • Congestion charge / bus gate?


Zone(s) C - Remaining Streets

  • Unchanged (from present)



  • Discuss what different zones we might like or need as a city, and why we'd need them..
  • Begin with the cells - they are easiest and also will have the greatest impact.
    • Trial a Zone A cell somewhere. (For example Temple Bar, East and West.) 
    • Trial a Zone B cell somewhere. (Begin in the "city centre" (ie "inside the canals") and up against that outside boundary in order to facilitiate trialling of the zone B-C threshold at a later stage.)
  • Trial the link streets and thresholds. 
  • In parallel to the above, separately figure out how to trial and develop the scaling model for some of the solutions which aren't currently readily available within the city - for example zebra crossings, residential-only parking, controlled parking zones, etc. 



Personal viewpoint of Shane Waring, Co-ordinator Dublin City Council BETA 



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