Traffic Light Box Artworks – 1 / 11 / 111

1 Identity / 11 Boxes / 111 Euro

As the very first Beta Project, we are making 11 traffic light boxes (in the ‘Beta Area’) available for street artworks, and we’re looking for people to submit designs for them!

UPDATE 26/04/12: Please submit until Wednesday 2nd May (we’ll be printing out on the Thursday morning)…and see this blog post!

(UPDATE 17/04/12: We didn’t receive 11 submissions, so if you wish to, please send on your proposal. We’ll update this blog once we arrange a date for selecting them, and if you want to send us an email to we can specifically send you an email beforehand.)

Here’s an example of the type of thing that we’re talking about. This one is by Tarsila Kruse, and it’s at Christchurch.

The all important details…

Brief *: To reinforce/enhance the IDENTITY of that area of the city. We’d like to stress this brief!

(Let’s make sure that they’re of relevance to that location, as then they will have even greater impact. For example, Tarsila’s art piece above shows a Viking and it’s based on the site of the major Viking Settlement that was at Wood Quay. The side of the box shows a round tower – there was one very nearby on Werburgh Street until mid 20th Century. Etc…)

(We discuss this further at the bottom of this posting.)

Note: The artworks MUST be considered ‘art’ or ‘information’ and NOT ‘advertising’. They can mention your name/website/blog, etc at the base – just like the signature on a painting for example. They can be art for art’s sake, but should bear in mind that they should try to enhance the identity of the area, whilst doing so! 🙂

Permissions: Dublin City Council are only considering these 11 traffic light boxes for artworks. Any artworks to  Dublin City Council will require FULL PERMISSION, in writing, and in advance of carrying out any activities to a traffic light boxes. We will select the artworks from an artist or artists and assign a particular artwork to a particular traffic light box.

Who can get involved? Anyone can submit a design to us for consideration…students, artists, non-artists…also butchers, bakers, candlestickmakers!

Number of Boxes: We don’t know whether the boxes should be individual pieces, or form part of a ‘story’ of all 11 boxes. We leave that up to you, and are open to your suggestions! The map below has a number for each box (click on each pin), so if you have a particular artwork for a particular box, please quote that number, and why (for example you might be highlighting an aspect of the history of that particular STREET, so want a particular box).

Budget: We will provide up to €111 (max) per box to cover expenses incurred by you. (This budget is based on our conversations with some artists who have experience of this type of work – Thanks Kevin from the Icon Factory.) This is to cover items such as sandpaper, paint, and so on, and we naturally need receipts. Just to be completely clear and avoid any confusion, you’ll be providing your time for free, but on the other hand you may get to have a piece of your art on the street. We hope you think it’s worth it!

Time: The boxes ideally would be painted by 31st May (but we’re flexible on this). We hope that the artworks will be there for a couple of years but they could be repainted grey a week later (if we’re having problems for some reason), they could be opened up again for artists to repaint a year or two later (give others a chance to publicise their work), or perhaps they’ll be there for the next 10 years (if they happen to be the best artworks ever!). This is a Beta project – so we simply don’t know!

Quality: We will agree materials to be used before any artworks start, but generally paint, rather than wraps, are found to work best. We’re open to suggestions though. However we’d suggest: keep it simple! The artwork should be suitable for being in a public place, subject to knocks, a couple of years of different seasons, etc. Also highly detailed work will probably not transfer very well, and bold, punchy work (like Tarsila’s) will probably work best…saying that, we’re open to anything.

Boxes: The dimensions of the boxes are as follows…

  • 820mm wide
  • 400mm (360mm box + 40mm side of door) deep
  • 1450mm high (say you allow 75mm gap on the bottom of the door side as the door doesn’t go all the way to the ground – see pics above/below)

There are 13 traffic light boxes in that area, but only 11 of them are open to artwork (the other two currently have BID information on them). Some have all sides visible, others are up against walls. We’ve agreed it with DCC planning, public realm, and traffic department, and we will support you in any way possible/required. See the below map for the locations.

All of the boxes now have a sign on each one – to further let people know about the DCC Beta Projects idea in general, and also this specific traffic-light-box-Beta.

What’s the Process?:

There are three stages…

  1. You submit your design(s). Please also include an EXPLANATION of why you think it strengthens the identity of the area.
  2. We pick whichever design(s) we feel work best, and make final arrangements for permissions, etc.
  3. The artist(s) who are selected paint the box(es) that they preferred/were allocated.

We will assess submissions for how well they reinforce the identity of that area, addresses the issues mentioned at the bottom of this posting, and of course for the quality/character of the art idea itself. We probably will be using personal instinct rather than anything ‘scientific’.

Submissions: Before Monday 16th April. Send by email to or by post to:

Dublin City Council Beta Projects,
c/o City Architects Division,
Dublin City Council,
Civic Offices,
Wood Quay,
Dublin 8. 

This could be any format you’d like…hardcopy, jpeg, pdf, photo (of your sketch), etc.

If you’ve any questions, or if we can help in some way, please get in touch! We’re looking forward to hearing from you, and seeing your ideas! 🙂

We hope that this Beta project will…

  • Save the Council money.
  • Enhance the area around…making it more attractive.
  • Strengthen the identity of the area in the minds of the people that live, work, visit and pass through.
  • Provide a outlet for artists to exhibit their work.

* Why that Brief?

    • People don’t know what to call the area. They tend to say “that area beside Smithfield” or “just off Capel Street”. Is there a way to encourage a unique Identity?
    • ‘Outsiders’ don’t see the area as being different to Smithfield. ‘Insiders’ are proud that it’s a different area. Is there a way to reinforce its own identity?
    • There’s great history to the area, a huge diversity of people, and a multitude of different types of streets, lanes and parks. Is there a way to strenthen the positives in the Area?
    • The Area contains lots of fruit & vegtable markets, law courts and old gaols, several art studios and galleries, lots of people living there, furniture shops, an old Abbey, a couple of Churches, DIY shops, sex shops, multi-ethnic shops and restaurants, a primary school, Luas, Dublin Bikes, forklift trucks…it’s such an interesting area! Is there a way to convey that?
    • People have told us that the area feels “boring”, “officey”, “drab”, “grey”. We know it’s not the case at all, but is there a way to show the colourful side to the Area?
    • There seems to be a perception of a lack of safety in the area from visitors and passers by, however we’ve been told that it’s one of the safer areas in Dublin, and the people whom we spoke to, and who work in the area, generally feel very safe. Is there a way to help with that?
    • On Church Street, people tell us that they’re “heading into town”, and on Capel Street they say that they’re “in town”…so this Area represents the ‘crossover’ point. We’ve no idea what to do with that, except we found it very interesting!!

Why Traffic Light Boxes?

As you can see from the above picture, traffic light boxes tend to attract graffiti and stickers, etc – and end up looking very ugly. The Council repaints them regularly (frequency depending on the abuse they’re receiving obviously), which creates a cost for the Council.


About Dublin City Council beta

Dublin City Council are trying a new method called DCC Beta Projects...your input, then quick trials 'on the street', then your feedback! We'd LOVE your help!
This entry was posted in 1. Identity, Communication & Ownership, Beta Project macro, Beta Projects, Moving About and Resting, Public Realm, Shane, Siobhan, Street Art. Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Traffic Light Box Artworks – 1 / 11 / 111

  1. Nobody says:

    This is a FANTASTIC idea, for which I am very interested in submitting an idea. I’m currently VERY available, as I am on sick leave / career break, following a serious accident (~12months ago). I have a keen interest in painting, and intend to paint streetscapes around that area (Stoneybatter & Smithfield).
    What form / format should the submissions take? How should (are) the artists convey(ing) their submission ideas by email? JPGs / photographs?

    I’d love any further information that you may have.

    Thank you.

  2. What a great project! I really admire the efforts to make Dublin an even more vibrant and special city.

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  4. dubcitybeta says:

    Thanks for all the comments everyone!

    @Nobody – will revise the blog to cover your questions (to also cover a few other questions from others), so keep an eye on it. Thanks again! 🙂

  5. Kate says:

    More of this sort of thing please! Best of luck with the project, and here’s hoping it becomes citywide before long.

  6. David A says:

    Okay I’m going to say it… Well done to the council on this one! It’s early days but I don’t remember ever seeing the council run a project with such down to earth and accessible information. Usually these things look like they’ve been written by the IBM Public Servatron 3000.

    I hope you guys will publish some of the entries you receive on here. Have you got any other ideas for betas?

    • dubcitybeta says:

      Hi David, thanks for the comments…there’s a lot of blushing going on here! As for the Servatron 3000, we’ve upgraded to the 4000 – much better public-interface software you see. 🙂

      Well, we’re sort of feeling our way along at present – we’d no idea what response it would receive (amazing so far – which we really appreciated), whether we’d struggle to fit it in around our ‘main work’ (somewhat), etc. We’ve tons of ideas, and have been asking people on twitter for suggestions, etc. It’s still all very much in the bedding-down phase (for eg the Facebook page hasn’t really been properly set up yet, etc).

      Would be brill to hear any thoughts that you have…our general ‘rule’ is…
      “Was there anything in the City today that made you go “someone really ought to change that…” “
      …next time you’ve one of those thoughts (anywhere), think Beta! 🙂

  7. Sean says:

    Are you encouraging graffiti artists to submit pieces? There are some very talented and brilliant graffiti artists in Dublin and I personally would like to see more of their awesome work around the city.

    • dubcitybeta says:

      Hi Seán, absolutely, couldn’t agree more!

      (We were careful to say “we’re looking for people” rather than “we’re looking for artists” etc…we want it to be open to absolutely anyone who’s interested.)

      If you know anyone who could be interested, would be brill if you could spread the word. Main item we’d stress though is that the works should ideally enhance the identity of the area, rather than just be art for it’s own sake. Sound good?

  8. Mark says:

    Great idea! If only I didn’t see it until now.. Was wonderig recently about that exact idea as I’ve seen it done around a few places. Keep up the great ideas!

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  10. Mr Lindsay Round says:

    I came across one by chance and thought it was a terriffic transformation for an otherwise ugly bit of technology, then saw an article with a picture of the viking in the totally dublin magazine with the projects information…very healthy pro-active stuff, well done. I am visiting from Australia and have only been here a week and can only expect that there are a big mob of people who are enjoying the quality of the art and the humour in the transformation. Cheers.

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  12. eoinmac says:

    I really love this idea and long may it continue. Have spotted a few of these boxes and thought how nice they looked compared to their former drab selves. Big up dubcitybeta project…

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  14. ArtDonatella says:

    Oh, would have loved to join in with a design, I’m too late :(….Fantastic idea though, very fun, urban and creative! x

  15. Lucy Richards says:

    Hello! i’m a brit who lives in the USA and i just got home from a visit to Dublin. I LOVE this idea. The artwork was fun, innovative, interesting…. congratulations on such a great idea. ALL cities should do this… you could even have a trail, for kids visiting the city (scavenger hunt style) to “collect” all the boxes. I see some of the pieces have already been in place for a while, and saw no stickers/ graffiti/ damage! Congratulations!! ;o)

    • DCCbeta says:

      Thanks Lucy for the feedback, and we hope you’d a great visit to Dublin! Interesting idea on the “collecting” of the boxes!

      (If you think of anything that you perhaps felt Dublin could do better, we’d also love to hear that!)

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