John O'Flynn - Artist

John O'Flynn - Artist

The Architecture of Conspicuous Consumption!


The Alto Vetro ("high-glass") apartment block at Dublin’s Grand Canal Basin ticks a lot of the boxes beloved of us modern architects: tall, slim, elegant, transparent - and a "look- no hands!" approach to construction – where elements (like balconies) are held up by impossibly thin or no apparent support. Yet what is it like to live in? Surrounded by floor to ceiling glass on three sides – great views! – but is it not like living in a fish-bowl? The glazed little balconies - "private open space" in building regulation parlance(!) - do take the biscuit tho’! Projecting out into space, buffetted by winds from all sides, absolutely no privacy - if not vertigo-inducing – Wow!- talk about observing the letter of the law (ie building regulations) and evading its spirit…all in the name of….being seen, observed, occupying a prime piece of real estate! Great to know the slab was sold recently – fully let – for E11m - just E2m short of its construction cost – very good performance – stellar even - in this economic climate: just goes to show that vanity holds its value even in times of austerity!

Taking a high-art–criticism view-point, one could say it is an example of how the values of high-culture can be translated into monetary value by those who "possess" high-culture : an impossibly small site (for 29 apartments and two commercial units) has been leveraged (by design values) to great commercial advantage…!…who says architects aren’t worth it!



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