COBBLES in the Front Square of Trinity College Dublin (TCD) are to be remodelled to include smooth stone paths in an effort to improve access forwheelchair users and those with reduced mobility. The most recent proposal includes the construction of diagonal paths, which will stretch across the square, meeting at a central point. There are also plans for a straight pathway from the campanile to the Front Arch and along one side of Fellows’ Square.
New drawings of the plans are expected to be presented today by architects, Michael Collins and Associates to TCD Sites and Faculties Committee. Planning permission has yet to be granted, and Dublin Council’s Conservation Architect must also approve renovation plans. Funding has not yet been secured for the project, while the university’s Buildings Office were unable to give an estimate cost of the construction as samples and final details have yet to be approved.
The TCD Cobble Reduction Programme Project Manager, Patrick McDonnell explained that the Front Square hosts what are considered “probably the worst cobbles on the whole campus”. As the university is obliged to provide universal access under disability legislation, TCD have been granted conditional planning permission for the project.
Sections of the proposed pathways are to be laid in the coming months to illustrate how they will interact with the current cobbles’ inset and it is hoped that this will give students an idea of what the final remodelled will look like. While the type of stone that will be used has not been decided upon, it is expected that a granite-type cobble, square in shape with a smoother surface will be employed as this will complement the current cobbles.
TCD have acknowledged that the current cobble finish “adds a particular character to Front Square”. However, since the stones were laid approximately 60 years ago, they are not considered to be of “a truly historic character”.
The basic design of the pathways was chosen almost four years ago, following consultation with grounds committees and disability access committess. Wheelchair ramps had previously been added to a number of houses in 2005.