Photographing modernism in Ireland I almost missed one very important place in history of Irish architecture, planning and urban design and history at all.
This place I would describe as an important and interesting from sociological and also technical point of view rather than architectural itself.
Ballymun flats and its area.
This is the place where great ideas and dreams of planers failed almost instantly...
|Remaining block of flats /2013/. Photograph taken on Direct Positive Paper.|
Last Sunday I had an opportunity to spend some time on the streets of Ballymun with two fantastic people who grew up there and have a wonderful memories related to the flats when this place was shining. Jim and his brother Eric. These couple of hours I spent with them opened my eyes and allowed me to perceive Ballymun from completely different perspective...not as a 'Concrete Jungle' with many internal problems but also as a place with strong community integration.
...so many thanks to both of them!
Most of the people are happy seeing all those flats going down. There is however also significant group of those who would rather see this place booming as it was at the time when it was build, when the future of this place was very bright....for the very short time.
This is typical example of great ideas of creating new places for overcrowded cities in post war world, especially in Europe. Ideas related directly to famous modernists and their ideology, ideas of Garden Cities.
Ballymun was the answer (one of few) for huge housing problem in Dublin/Ireland those days.
The estate was built between 1966 and 1969 by the National Building Agency which was established specifically for the task. It comprised seven 15-storey towers, nineteen 8-storey blocks, ten 4-storey walk-ups and 400 single family houses.
I would easily call it state of the art which may sound controversially but saying that I am thinking about its technical aspect rather then quality of architecture itself.
All those large, comfortable apartments (over half flats had three bedrooms) with underfloor heating, central hot water, flush toilets and lifts brought an amazing comfort of living. And we must remember that all of it was in Ireland in times when large families (sometimes around ten people) had to live often in one room in extremely poor condition.
Why its failed then?
|Back of the local shopping centre /2013/|
Such places which we can see all over the Europe needs properly designed and perfectly working infrastructure and maintenance. Lack of any of these elements along with mentioned sociological problems causes degradation of society. This is what has happened over there briefly. There was not enough money to finish what planers just started so many places like promised public swimming pool, meeting places and play areas were never built. People were left alone in the middle of nowhere.
During the 80s things got even worse due to economical crisis. Huge unemployment brought problems with robberies and drugs.
Today Ballymun is changing along with its inhabitants who remember old flats.
Now there is just 3 block of flats left. These buildings will be demolished very soon and Ballymun will step up into the next stage of its history.
Wandering among those abandoned structures you can hear only the wind and imagine how it was over there back in 60's...70's
|Ballymun flats - Building that doesn't exist anymore with Maser's mural photographed many times before... |
I took this photograph in 2010
During this trip I was using Sinar F2 with Schenider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 150mm 5.6, Harman/Ilford Direct Positive Paper 4x5 and Ilford FP4+ 4x5.
Also there is a roll of Kodak Tmax 400 exposed through hasselblad 500cm, Planar 80/2.8 and Distagon 50/4. This film will be processed soon and I hope to show some photographs soon my FB website.
The last photograph in this post was taken with Holga 120GN + Fomapan 400.
What else was engaged? strong wind and some rain...