- 27 Jun 18
At long last, it seems that Dublin is to get the U2 “Visitor And Exhibition Space” that has been discussed since the turn of the Millennium.
The long-planned U2 visitor attraction in the docklands area of Dublin is on the way. Plans for the centre have been lodged with Dublin City Council. The new building is planned for the Hanover Quay location, where the band have for a long time had their own recording studios.
As far back as 2002, the site was bought from U2 on a compulsory purchaser order, when plans to redevelop the entire area were put in motion by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority. Under that deal, U2 were to be allocated the top two floors of a high rise tower building – which ironically became known as U2 Tower.
However, with the crash, the DDDA’s rather grandiose plans had to be shelved, and U2 were effectively left in limbo – until 2014, that is, when they repurchased the site from NAMA, at what was a typically deflated price of the moment.
There is little doubt that the plans will be looked at closely by Dublin City Council’s planning department. However, An Bord Pleanála has already stated that the studios are part of Dublin’s cultural heritage and should be celebrated with “a new, innovative tourism offering.” All that and more are now likely to be on the cards.
That there is the need for a U2 museum, or visitor attraction, is not in doubt. Fans of the band come from all over the world to see and experience first hand the city in which U2 grew up. But when they get here, there is currently no direct way in which they can plug into the U2 mainframe.
That is part of the current Dublin tourism offer which is conspicuous by its absence. Given the scale of the band’s recording and touring activities, and the state-of-the-art approach which they take to every production, there is little doubt that U2’s entry into any project of this kind is likely to be an ambitious one.
The band have been meticulously archiving material over the past 20 years and more, ensuring that they have a remarkable collection – perhaps unparalleled among rock bands – of materials that can be presented in an attraction. They also have a mastery of technology, as well as connections into the top end of the sound and vision industry – suggesting that there really is a special visitor attraction in store.
The planning application has been lodged by Golden Brook Limited and MHEC Ltd., and covers the addresses No. 15 to 18 Hanover Quay. The existing building, in which the studio is housed, will be demolished. The total floor area in the planned new building, if it proceeds according to the architect designs, will be 2,684 square metres, in what will be a three story over basement structure. What is planned is being described as a U2 Visitor and Exhibition Space.
Among the small notes, in what will undoubtedly be a major design spectacular, is that there will be 28 bicycle spaces!
The band have a long association with the south docklands area, with the cover of their second album October having been shot in the Grand Canal Basin area.