NAMA Lab redesigns property crash with help of social media

15 Jul 2011

Using a combination of blogs, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, an iPhone app and the Land Registry’s website, a team of DIT architectural students called NAMA Lab has redesigned more than 48 sites that make up the NAMA (National Asset Management Agency) portfolio in Dublin, including the carcase of the Anglo Irish headquarters in Dublin’s IFSC.

Six DIT architecture graduates are holding an exhibition of their project – which extends from the Luas lines of Cherrywood in Dublin’s southside to the quays of Malahide on the northside – at 1 Cope Street, ironically located behind the Irish Central Bank.

Began as an extension of a thesis began by the then-students at Bolton Street, each student took a NAMA site in Dublin and created an architectural project around it as a reaction or a narrative on how NAMA could affect the urban landscape of Dublin City.

“We thought the idea for the project would be relevant and idealistic at the same time so we figured we’d get a map off NAMA,” explains graduate Helen-Rose Condon.

Unfortunately for the students, NAMA didn’t play ball and provide the students with the relevant mapping information.

“So we got to work utilising online blogs, the Land Registry and the students individually researched sites through the various planning permissions granted by Dublin City Council.”

Over a two-week period in November, the students began using Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook to co-ordinate and present their work, mapping out tranche 1 and tranche 2 permissions within the city limits, from Cherrywood to Malahide.

“We’re architecture students but found Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook invaluable,” Condon said.

The addresses for the work are:

Preserving the future

During the course of the exhibition there will be lectures on the group’s aims for the devastated property landscape involving each students’ intent for each of the 48 buildings’ future.

“The map we created ourselves covers hundreds of sites, but we focused on 48 in particular that we could use our architectural skills to create some kind of meaningful future for the different properties.

“For us as a group, we have a manifesto online that finished to declare that architecture can no longer be a slave to short-term speculation.

“We see these projects as beyond the fiscal nature of NAMA to the societal nature. We see actual opportunities here and we looked at NAMA in a different way than most.”

To explain her point, Condon pointed to one of the projects by student Paul O’Sullivan that showed how money still tied up with the Anglo Irish HQ carcase in the docklands could be saved.

“A cladding system that was ordered to make the building weather tight is still sitting in a factory in Germany and it would cost €9m for NAMA to get it over to Ireland and make the building weather tight.

“Paul took the viewpoint that he could architect the frame of the building in such a way to require less cladding. His idea is that the building could be used as an art gallery to house all the NAMA art that was formerly owned by the various banks,” Condon said.


John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years