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Civic design and national identity: the example of Edwardian Ireland

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The field of civic design is a relatively unexplored domain within British cultural, political and planning history, despite its implementation by public authorities and its acknowledged significance to formative town planning.1 What is more, given the determined moves circa 1900 within a number of British-controlled territories to obtain governmental independence, art was manipulated, on the one hand, to be an authoritative force to help maintain control over native populations and, for those seeking to remove British sovereignty, to express local pride and notions of nationhood. This article examines the design of the Royal College of Science and Government Buildings in Dublin, Ireland. In doing so, it reads British–Irish opposition into the built environment. The aim is to broaden the understanding that historians and planners have as to how cultural, political, artistic and environmental forces interrelated with each other during an age when, significantly, urban planning was being professionalized and diffused across the globe and the understanding of national identity in towns and cities under British jurisdiction was being recast.

Keywords: Aston Webb; Britain; Edwardian; Ireland; civic design; nationhood

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of History,Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China

Publication date: 2011-07-01

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