6 February 2015

Two Hundred to Five to One


Architects ∕ Buildings ∕ Earth Junk ∕ Faux Nature ∕ Public Space ∕ Speculation ∕ Urban Environment

Some architects may have heard of the 1:5:200 ‘rule’, which describes a ratio between the initial cost of constructing a building (1) to the cost of maintaining it during its life (5) to the cost of paying the people who work in it (200).

Whatever about the poor accuracy of the rule in the normal run of things, how useful is it when a building boom is halted by a catastrophic property crash and a bank strike? The evidence of this part-finished development near Heuston Station in Dublin suggests that the rule could be completely inverted.

You spend a ton of money on a site and get some foundations down and drive in a few piles (200), then you stop building it and wrap it in astroturf (5), and then you get a guy in for a couple of hours every five years to staple on the bits that have come loose (1).

On the other side of the same development, it’s unclear quite how finished or unfinished the underground car park is. Either it is indeed complete, but somehow unenclosed, and the open space was always earmarked for some kind of ornamental garden. Or it is not complete, and remains unenclosed, and a few days’ work with some boats that the builder had picked up somewhere along the way were devoted to this particular turd-polishing garden project. 200:5:1.

The finished/unfinished thing about the boat garden (I’d describe it as ‘tension’ if this was an artwork) tells us everything we need to know about the casino capitalism of the period up to 2008, and about the neoliberal papering over the social cracks that has come in the following years. The smoothing over of the disastrous failure of this development (called ‘HSQ’ because words just take ages to type on your phone; see Ian Warner on the similar ‘LP 12’) with hipster whimsy invites us to contemplate the outcome as serendipitous (the supreme hipster category), cute, and worth taking out your phone for to take a photograph.

You want more finished/unfinished crap strewn all over the commons? Here ya go. Photograph these and share them. I’ll like them.