Slowly healing wounds in the suburban
and city tissues: Northside Shopping Centre and The Centrum Mall
Soccer fields. White goal-poles. Vast
horizons. Bare grass-lands. Horses on leashes, secured to small posts. A
deteriorating Youth centre. Forty-thousand people inhabiting endless ctrl ‘c’-ctrl
‘v’ housing estates.
In the midst of an already poorly
planned 1970s suburban area of Coolock, on a much-awaited 18th of
June, a not-so-distinguished shopping centre surfaced while gracefully wearing
a swimming pool on its head.
Constructed circa 47 years ago, Northside
Shopping Centre was one of the earliest examples of shopping centres in Ireland
following Stillorgan. Originally designed by Stephenson Gibney & Associates
as an open-air centre with modest piazzas and projecting board marked concrete balconies
to pursue those brutalist fundamentals of their time. While the addition of the
‘roof-pool’ idea surely seemed like an eminently innovative and advanced
element to a shopping centre of the 70s, (which some might imagine in Abu Dhabi
today per se) it was certainly accomplished a tad bit disappointingly.
Today however, very little of Sam
Stephenson’s vision remains. Where once children waited petulantly on their
parents outside the cheerful and homely cafes while chatting to neighbours or
friends; nowadays major stores and stretched out brand names take over the accustomed
shiny tiled corridors that reflect ceiling spotlights on their every inch, confirming
the all so familiar 21th century mall look-a-like.
Northside shopping centre has been
expanded, extended and renovated several times in the 80s, with the final
refurbishments being completed in late 2016. One can hardly imagine that the renowned
architect of the Civic Offices, Wood Quay or Central Bank of Ireland on Dame
St. is responsible for the very structure that currently stands bitterly covered
up in plastic rain screen panelling, particularly in the most clichéd ‘greyish’
tones with a ‘sure-a-bit-a-glazin’ here and there’ to add to a trendy warehouse
effect. Mr. Stephenson would probably look at the entirety with sorrowful eyes.
Whilst the recent á la mode resurrection
of the shopping centre is debatable on an architectural rejuvenation sense, undoubtedly
the community relishes it. Northside s.c. has brought about considerable amount
of new businesses and additional jobs generated by them. The locals enjoy being
a part of it all. Just
across the street is Beaumont Hospital and 3,000 employees are determined to
get out at noon on daily basis to raid the ‘big names’.
However, this might be a sad view to
the unfamiliar passer-by; with exhaustingly inconsistent empty fields and shopping area right in the centre of town.
At present, if Northside s.c were to be described as a person, he/she would
most likely be the youngest little sibling, trying so hard to live up to the
expectations of the eldest ones.
Also constructed in the 70s at around
the same time as Northside shopping centre, is Centrum Shopping Mall in Miskolc,
Two places, similar building
periods, nonetheless distinctive styles.
From the 1960s onwards, ‘Centrum’
stores started popping up in each county in Hungary. These were all centres for
retail: selling everything from groceries to motorbikes and therefore turned into
a source of ‘centrum’ or even focal point for the city itself. A building that
has become iconic over the years while its surroundings haven’t changed much at
all, if not worsened.