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Title: Block inversion in the Irish town
Author: O'Connell, Derry
ISNI:       0000 0004 9353 1723
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2020
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This work examines an emerging process of change in the relationship between street and street-block (hereafter ‘block’) as small Irish towns adjust to new user patterns. Recent surface car parks in the core of traditional blocks have induced change in the surrounding urban fabric, with evidence of significant urban metamorphosis. The work sets out first to examine the background history of block organisation up to the mid-twentieth century, when the typical urban plot was occupied by a house over shop. Here a previously-unsearched field is explored, finding evidence of advanced block design in many towns. The work then focuses on recent metamorphosis, where upper floor residence moves to the suburb leaving its redundant back garden to become a customer car park for the ground floor shop. In time the car park joins with others to form an extensive surface car park occupying the centre of the block. As this becomes the new location of user-entry to the town, shops on the perimeter of the block begin to turn their frontage to the car park, rejecting the street in the process. The central block-core space thus becomes a place of greater importance than the surrounding streets, leading to what might be described as block inversion. The work traces this metamorphosis finding that many established principles in the organisational structure of the town are challenged, including the fundamental difference between front and back in the readability of the town by its users. A sample of sixty-six towns forms the field of study, with a focus on six case-study blocks. The research methodology is organised around sequential triangulation, using map regression, planning-file scrutiny and interviews to trace and analyse the pattern of change as a chronological progression. In it, physical limitations are identified which have significant implications for the management of towns.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available