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Monday, July 21, 2008

Clarence Hotel, Dublin, Ireland

Norman Foster’s Clarence Hotel design given go-ahead
Following over a year and a half of planning Norman Foster’s design for the redevelopment of Dublin’s Clarence Hotel has been approved. The significant move ends a cascade of doubts over the project which will see the hollowing of the interiors of six protected buildings leaving only the original facades and the enclosure of much of the site under a glass atrium.

Several heritage groups put forward appeals to An Bord Pleanála, Ireland’s agency dealing with planning appeals, stating that the virtual demolition of 4 Georgian buildings, one Victorian building and the Clarence’s own Art Deco building was inappropriate. The Irish Conservation Group, The Irish Georgian Society, Middleground Ltd and Superbelle were among the appellants on several grounds including inappropriate scale, uncharacteristic design and historic preservation.

The project was initially brought into the spotlight due to its ownership - Bono and Edge from the world-renowned band U2. In April this year the pair stated that the future of the Clarence Hotel would be unsure if the redesign was rejected.

Foster has also been in the news this week amid protests against his Bulgarian masterplan Black Sea Gardens which conservationists say will destroy one of the few remaining virgin beaches on the Black Sea Coast.

Today's order on Clarence Hotel read:"In deciding not to accept the Inspector’s recommendation to refuse permission, the Board considered that the development proposed, which involves the part demolition of protected structures, is permissible because the exceptional quality of the design of the proposed development, allied to the continuation of the historic hotel use on the site constitute exceptional circumstances..."

Now that the Clarence Hotel design has been approved with minor changes, including the assurance that all interiors be preserved by record, the construction which will incorporate 114 rooms, 14 suites and a world-class spa, will soon be under way. The design team for the €150 million revamp hope the Clarence will become one of the top ten hotels in the world.

Niki May Young
News Editor
architecture NOW

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