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The Cork Papers:

Sustainable City in the Making A collection of 20 papers with advice on how to make Cork a Leading European Sustainable City

Curated and edited by Angela Brady OBE


The Cork Papers

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New city boundaries 2018. Courtesy of Cork City Co 7


The Cork Papers

The Cork Papers: Sustainable City in the Making Introduction The intention of this publication is to look at Cork with fresh eyes and see its great potential so that government, Cork city and county leaders will act on the suggestions in these essays. We all hope that The Cork Papers is a useful prompt for the huge potential in Cork city and county waiting to be released and give them confidence to just do it! It is often only by stepping into the distance that we realise what is on our doorstep. It is also important not to feel compelled to work in competition with our neighbours, be they regional county or country wide, because we will thrive and gain most from working together and making new partnerships. Climate change is upon us and Ireland will not meet its carbon reduction targets. Cork is leading the way in research and development of clean energy wind and wave power and they have the answer to Ireland’s problems but only if funding comes their way. Its energy research and development sector is ready to go into action to help reduce our carbon footprint and help our renewable clean energy, sector flourish. The vast Tivoli docklands and south docklands sites could provide thousands of homes and jobs in the sustainable industry. Cork is a welcoming city for businesses and entertainment as are its surrounding counties. There is huge innovative and design talent and universities are churning out students that can work in Cork and be trained in specific Hi Tech industries. Cork is a unique place at a moment of change – it needs the decision makers to realise its value for the benefit of the whole country. With a focus on Cork - This is its time to flourish.

Angela Brady OBE

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photo: Port 9of Cork


The Cork Papers

Contents The Cork Papers present insights on Sustainable City making 1

Angela Brady - A Focus on Cork’s Opportunities

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Brian Lalor - In A Linguea Franca of Water

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Sean Kearns - Second Chance for New Docklands City

4 Prof Stephen Willacy - Re-connecting/Re-thinking/ Refocusing/Reflecting 5

John Hegarty - Significance in Urban Cork

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Peter Murray - Heritage in the People’s Republic

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Frank McDonald - Growing Pains of Expanding Cork City

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Dr Sandra O’Connell - A Vision for 21st Century Living

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Andrew Carr - Life After Design -Predicting and Prompting the Socail Life of Buildings

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Walter Menteth - Coastal Flood Resilience - Delivering Thriving Waterfronts

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Valerie Mulvin - Cork - A Place

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Marie Donnelly - Cork - The Rebel City

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Claire Lambe - The Power of the Sea

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Jose Ospina - Self-Help / Self-Build as Innovation in Housing

15 Adrian Joyce - Long-Term Strategies for Energy Renovation of Buildings 16

Giulia Vallone - Re-Inhabiting the Streets

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Rory O’Connell - The Soil Under our Feet Is Not Dirt, It Is Our Future + #MadAboutCork by Alan Hurley

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Mary McCarthy - Cork - a Creative City in the Making

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Alison Ospina - History of the Creative Community

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Mikael Coville Anderson - Putting Back the Bike in Cities

#CORKCITY map courtesy of #PureCork Thanks for photographs as named, with special thanks to #PureCork, Port of Cork Authority, Cork City Council + Cork County Council

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The Cork Papers

The Cork Papers Authors; Angela Brady OBE Angela Brady is a director of Brady Mallalieu Architects in London. She is past president of the RIBA and a design champion and chair of Croydon and Bexley Design Review Panels. As a TV broadcaster she made a documentary series “Designing Ireland” with Dr Sandra O’Connell. Angela is a fuse glass craftsperson exhibiting with the West Cork Creates group. She has selected key essay contributors for; The China Papers, The British Papers and The Cork Papers, to inspire decision makers into sustainable city making.

Brian Lalor Brian Lalor is former director of the architectural department, Temple Mount Excavations, Jerusalem, and General Editor of the Encyclopaedia of Ireland. He is an art donor to the National Gallery of Ireland. He writes many books and is an active artist and works in collaboration with ceramic artist Jim Turner exhibiting at The Blue House Gallery Schull and with West Cork Creates group. He lives in West Cork.

Sean Kearns Sean Kearns is a director of Reddy Architecture + Urbanism based in the Cork Office. He is responsible for projects across a range of sectors that include residential, hospitality, leisure, retail, education, technology, health, office, civic and transport sectors with an emphasis on the private sector. Sean has over 24 years of experience in private practice as a Project Manager on major infrastructural international projects.

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Authors

Stephen Willacy Graduated from Oxford Brooks University/Westminster University. Stephen has been in Aarhus since 1984 combining practice as a partner in Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects and teaching/ research as associate professor at Aarhus School of Architecture. As Aarhus City Council’s chief city architect, Stephen works towards ensuring the city develops in a way where architectural considerations are held in the highest regard and contribute towards continued innovation in relation to city planning, urban design and architectural quality.

John Hegarty John Hegarty MRIAI RIBA is an architect director at Fourem in Cork city - a multidisciplinary practice with expertise in new design in historic settings, the adaptation of existing buildings and the restoration of historic detail. John gives talks promoting the study of heritage and good urban design in Cork promoting the more the unique nature of the city and is working to increase appreciation of the city’s quayside landscape, setting and detail.

Peter Murray Peter Murray artist and art historian. He has written extensively on Irish and international art. Over the course of three decades at the Crawford Art Gallery, firstly as curator and latterly as Director, Peter Murray has led the Crawford from being a municipal art gallery to becoming a National Cultural Institution. He retired after 30 years in 2018. Trained as an art historian, but also a practising artist, Murray received a BA from UCD and a post-graduate M. Litt at Trinity College and an Honorary Doctorate in June 2018 from UDC. He lives in Baltimore in West Cork. 13


The Cork Papers

Frank McDonald Frank McDonald is a journalist, former Environment Editor of the Irish Times and author of several books, including The Destruction of Dublin. He is also an honorary member of the RIAI and an honorary fellow of the RIBA. This is an expanded version of an article for the journal of the Academy of Urbanism to coincide with its annual conference in Cork.

Dr Sandra O’Connell Dr. Sandra Andrea O’Connell is Director of Architecture and Communications at the RIAI and Editor of RIAI publications. She managed the Tivoli Design Review process for the RIAI. Co wrote and co presented “Designing Ireland”, the RTE TV series with Angela Brady. She is editor of Architecture Ireland and house + design magazines and is a board member of darc space, Dublin’s Architecture Gallery. Sandra was founding curator of Open House Dublin for the Irish Architecture Foundation. She is an Honorary Fellow of the RIBA.

Andrew Carr Andrew Carr is an architect with award winning practice Brady Mallalieu Architects based in London who was the project lead for Brickworks community centre. He has design based research interests in the uses of time and temporality in architecture and has taught at the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff, Newcastle University and the London School of Architecture.

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Authors

Walter Menteth Walter Menteth RIBA, FRIAS is an award winning architect, planner, writer and senior lecturer at the Portsmouth University School of Architecture. Director of Walter Menteth Architects, Project Compass CIC and founder member of thefulcrum.eu. Walter has received the RIBA President’s Research Medal and RIBA President’s Award for practice located research. His practice has won various national design awards and been published and exhibited extensively both in the UK and abroad. His research interests cover coastal city resilience and design procurement, competition policy, practice and implementation.

Valerie Mulvin Valerie Mulvin is a director of award winning practice McCullough Mulvin Architects. The focus of their practice is the design of sustainable educational, cultural and civic buildings, particularly for the University sector, and contemporary interventions into historic buildings. They are also building internationally, adding a major series of new buildings to a University in India.

Marie C Donnelly Throughout her career in the European Commission, Marie has been a leading advocate of future oriented policies and strategies, most recently as Director for Renewables, Energy Efficiency and Innovation at DG Energy in the European Commission. She is currently a Director at Dara Strategic Consulting in Ireland.

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The Cork Papers

Claire Lambe Claire Lambe graduated from UCD Mechanical Engineering in 2013. After graduating, she came to Cork to work with a wave energy developer, Jospa Ltd. There she was involved in the development of award-winning technology that can be used to improve the output of many wave energy devices. In 2016, Claire studied an MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development at the University of Cambridge and since returned to Cork to work as a Design Engineer for Arup Engineering Consultants.

Jose Ospina Jose Ospina MA Arch has worked in social housing in the UK Colombia and Ireland for over 30 years, working on self-help and self building projects mainly with housing associations and co-operatives. Since 2001 he is Secretary of Carbery Housing Association in Cork. He has worked as Project Manager on various EU Projects involving eco-design, digital manufacture of computers and energy efficiency retrofitting of homes. He published “Housing Ourselves� in 1987.

Adrian Joyce Adrian Joyce qualified as an architect from UCD and is based in Brussels. He is the Campaign Director of the Renovate Europe Campaign. Its ambition is to reduce the energy demand of the building stock in the EU by 80% by 2050 as compared to 2005. He is Secretary General of EuroACE (European Alliance of Companies for Energy Efficiency in Buildings) He holds a part-time post teaching Construction Technology at the Catholic University of Louvain-le-Neuve, He is chairman of the Coalition for Energy Savings.

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Authors

Giulia Vallone Giulia Vallone is a Municipal Architect working for Irish Local Authorities since 2002. She applies her native Italian public space sensibilities to shape urban designs that deliver inclusive places to nurture civic stewardship. Since 2005, in her role as town architect to Clonakilty, Mallow, Kinsale and most recently Middleton, she has embraced a new focus on excellence in public works for small to medium sized towns to deliver urban design masterplans that create people friendly places. Her work with Cork County Council and local communities has won many design awards, in particular the reimagining of Clonakilty, winner of the AoU great town award 2017

Rory O’Connell Rory O’Connell is the former head chef at Ballymaloe House and founder director of the Ballymaloe Cookery School. He was twice awarded Ireland’s Chef of the year. Author of Master it – How to Cook Today. Awarded Andre Simon Award for food writing 2013. Author of Cook Well Eat Well, awarded Bord Gais Energy Irish Cookbook of the Year 2017. Good Food Ireland Food Ambassador of the Year 2013/2014. Good Food Ireland International Ambassador of the Decade 2006 – 2016. Presenter of RTE cookery series How to Cook Well which has been syndicated for airing in South Africa, Canada, Hungary and Israel and most recently to PBS in America

Mary McCarthy Mary Mc Carthy is Director at Crawford Art Gallery. A former Director of National Sculpture Factory where she organised several conferences on cities and culture. Most recently she initiated Cork Conversations - a city wide series of events on cities in partnership with Cork City Council. Until recently she was Chair of Culture Ireland and a  Board member of Irish Museum of Modern Art. She had held previously posts as a director of Cork 2005 when the city was European Capital of Culture, and as cultural manager of Dublin Docklands Development Authority. Mary frequently moderates international discussions on cities and culture.

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The Cork Papers

Alison Ospina Alison Ospina is a craftsperson, teacher and author. For over twenty years she has developed her own distinctive approach to creating sculptural, functional chairs and stools using the natural shapes of the tree. She has enabled hundreds of students to learn the simple techniques required to design and make their own projects using unseasoned branch wood. In 2009 Alison Ospina published “Green Wood Chairs - chairs and chair makers of Ireland” followed by “Green Wood Stools” in 2017. Ospina’s wider interest in West Cork’s creative community led to the publishing of “West Cork Inspires” a history of the contemporary crafts movement in West Cork, in 2011. She curates the West Cork Creates exhibition in Skibbereen every year.

Mikael Coville Anderson Mikael Colville-Andersen is a Canadian-Danish urban designer and urban mobility expert. He is the CEO of Copenhagenize Design Company, which he founded in 2009 in Copenhagen and he works with cities and governments around the world in coaching them towards becoming more bicycle friendly. He speaks world wide about urbanism, liveable cities and bicycle history. He is the host of the urbanism documentary television series The Life-Sized City. He designs infrastructure and the necessary networks in cities to ensure safe, reliable and quick human powered transport.

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Authors

Big thanks to all our essay writers for their contribution to The Cork Papers. They were invited to be the critical friend and come up with some suggestions that can help Cork see other points of view. Special thanks to Jessica Mallalieu for editorial design. Thanks to Cork City Council for publishing this book. Angela Brady OBE Curator and Editor of The Cork Papers

Harry Clarke, St Luke patron saint of painting, window Castletownsend

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The Cork Papers

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21Cork photo: Port of


The Cork Papers

Focus on Cork’s Opportunity By Angela Brady OBE

Everyone who has visited Cork City has their favourite memory or anecdote about a City that generates mythology as a natural resource. One of my own is the vision of arriving on a warm summer’s evening, walking along the quays at sunset and realising that the silver sparkle on the river was actually the enormous salmon running up stream to spawn. We approached the bridge close to Shandon to find a crowd of lads leaning dangerously over the parapet gaffing the beasts directly out of the water and disappearing within seconds into the impenetrable jumble of streets that gather on the hill around St Anne’s famous steeple, thereby shaking off any unwanted Garda Síochána attention for what seemed like a chancer’s activity. The passage of time has doubtless inflated the size and number of the fish and the fieriness of the setting sun, but the sense of the abundance of nature, the picturesque setting of an ancient city where people still live in its heart and the romance of likely lads getting one over on the authorities, are all part and parcel of my vision of the spirit of Cork. Less romantic but equally pertinent is the knowledge that salmon no longer run up the Lee in that way due to many factors both local to Cork, for instance the hydro-electric schemes further up river, the plethora of salmon and mussel farms along the coast and the wider impact of climate change and environmental 22

pollution. In a nutshell this memory sums up the issues faced by many cities; How do they manage change while conserving and protecting the distinctiveness of character and place? These Cork Papers are intended as a ‘primer’ for the future of Cork City. This collection is also in many ways, a primer for all cities as the issues of growth in a finite world, sustainability, conservation and quality of life are universal and equally apply, but of course all cities are unique in their own specific set of circumstances and each city must play the cards dealt to it by history, nature and circumstance. In this sense Cork has been blessed with the resources and potential to make it a city that is first amongst equals. Firstly the issues faced by Cork City are not the issues faced by many post-industrial western cities - those of regeneration, renewal and reinvention. The city is not dead on its feet having lost its commercial raison d’être, it is a thriving, prosperous city popular with residents and visitors alike for its legendary hospitality, good food and welcome. Cork’s dilemma is summed up by the old adage ‘the only constant in life is change’. How can a city preserve the authentic qualities for which it is renowned while adapting to meet the constant pressures and demands of the 21st


Angela Brady

century? Careful restoration of significant city structures adds tangible value and separates a city from competing locations. Comparable to the incredible Pont Neuf in Paris, Sir John Bensons’ St Patrick’s Bridge could act as a key anchor to promote regeneration in Cork if carefully repaired and accurately restored. Secondly the cards dealt to Cork by the Fates include a clutch of aces. The natural beauty of Cork’s location with the surrounding hills, the Atlantic seaboard and the magnificence of Cork harbour, the second largest natural harbour in the world after Sydney, are more than the leisure and tourist attractions they undoubtedly are. They offer an abundance of renewable energy generating options as Claire Lambe and Valerie Mulvin illustrate in their papers. This needs to be a focus for Ireland and not just Cork. The riverine setting of the city amongst the ever present channels of the River Lee and the still largely contiguous historic fabric, create the stage for city life and the setting for the history and traditions of the place, as described by Brian Lalor and John Hegarty who feel it to the core. The city still has to recognised many historic buildings of significant national importance and it also has a wealth of fine working buildings emblematic of Cork and in which the history, traditions and memory of the place are embedded. The city must value and conserve these buildings, as Peter Murray makes clear in his paper and be aware of the full scope of Cork’s history reflected in both monuments and the ‘mat’ of urban fabric that contributes equally to what Cork is. As an

photo: Port of Cork

example (but let’s hope not a cautionary tale), some of the finest historic warehouses in the city could be under threat at Customs House Quay, not from demolition necessarily but from emasculation by the preposterous tower proposal on the Port of Cork site. If ever a development represented a wake up call to the city this is it - a proposal that has nothing to do with Cork, nothing to do with the history, culture and tradition of this place and which shows no understanding of any of the issues championed in these essays - a design from the last century which could irreparably damage the future trajectory of the whole city. Hopefully it has gone quiet! However - good design can change our lives for the better. So if a scheme inspired by 1980’s Manhattan (yes really) does not represent a credible future then what does? 23


The Cork Papers

photo: Prof. Wulf Daseking

photo: Prof. Wulf Daseking

Freiburg, Germany

Let us look to the most sustainable city in Europe. Prof. Wulf Daseking, past director of planning in Freiburg was instrumental in writing the Freiburg Charter. Its ideas are intended as basic principles, designed to provide food for thought and inspiration to act. He says “We hope that the Freiburg Charter will be received openly and used to promote efforts to advance sustainable urban planning through the sharing of ideas”. This alternative vision for an exemplar sustainable city, indeed an achievable and desirable one is in accord with the Government’s 2050 vision for Ireland. He also says “New sources of much needed energy must be found while cutting consumption at the same time. There is no doubt that urban development and planning play an important pioneering role in solving these issues before us. The areas of economy, ecology, social affairs and education as well as cultural diversity must be addressed through an integrated approach. Involving citizens at an early stage in the planning process and giving consideration to regional integration, are basic preconditions for viable urban development”. Cork has the potential to become the standard bearer for sustainable living to offset our fossil fuel hungry country that is still not taking 24

climate change seriously. There are many role models in Europe whose example could help change the trajectory of a country currently headed in the opposite direction as Ireland struggles to reduce its CO2 emissions in line with EU targets. According to the May 2018 GHG projects report - Ireland is set to increase rather than decrease its carbon footprint by 1% and will face heavy fines - perhaps this money could otherwise have been spent on carbon reducing initiatives by harvesting our natural energy resources and by radically improving insulation standards in our existing stock of buildings - as championed by Adrian Joyce and for future developments as outlined in Mary Donnelly’s and Claire Lambe’s papers. All of these essays in their own way advocate the future development of Cork as a 21st century sustainable economy based on a full understanding of its particular spirit and character. This spirit resides in the people as much as in the built fabric, a fact that manifests most clearly through the work of the region’s artists and crafts people. Cork and West Cork in particular have a living tradition of the arts and crafts revived in the 1960’s when many artists moved to Ireland for the quality of life and inspirational landscape. These artistic skills are in abundance but they need more national


Angela Brady

recognition and financial support. Cork has the Sculpture Factory described here by founder and past director Mary McCarthy but more, similar arts centres are needed as greenwood chair maker Alison Ospina points out. She has been trying to get a Skibbereen Craft Centre funded for over ten years and it is still needed - yet she puts together annual shows with over 40 creative artists under the banner of West Cork Creates. Indeed this issue of funding and Government support, both central and local, can be seen as key to any plan for future growth and development. Frank Mc Donald tells the story of past initiatives many of which foundered due to the lack of support or vision from government departments. Compare that sorry tale with the positive story of Aarhus in Denmark, a city with many similarities and shares much common ground with Cork, in Professor Stephen Willacy’s inspiring contribution. So often shortsightedness and perceived competition, with the next town or city, clouds the vision for what a city could achieve or deliver for themselves - if only they collaborated rather than competed with their neighbours. Collaboration is the key to the success of Aarhus docklands redevelopment and a key strategy for Cork to pursue. As an example of this, Dr Sandra O’Connell’s paper describes the collaborative design process adopted by the Port of Cork for the initial masterplan stages of the redevelopment of the 62 hectare Tivoli Docks waterfront site. Stephen Willacy’s essay also concerns itself with Aarhus’s role as the ‘second city’ of

Denmark and how the city responds to that sometimes pejorative designation, one which Corkonians are all to familiar with, as Sean Kearns points out. This is a ‘thing’ all second cities find themselves having to deal with such as in Marseilles in France. I asked writer and broadcaster - and well known Marseillais Jonathan Meades to comment: “Marseilles is nothing like Paris – It is to Paris what Liverpool is to London, what Glasgow is to Edinburgh awkward, disobedient, bolshie and not really very French.” There is something very familiar to Cork about that. But take a look at la Joliette and Les Docks and see how Marseille’s historic buildings have been cherished and transformed to new uses on a grand scale.

photo: Stephen WiIlacy 25


The Cork Papers Other colleagues however challenge the very notion of top down, Government managed, change and champion grass roots action and individual responsibility as the means to transform the 21st century city. See how Giulia Vallone, town architect of Clonakilty, has transformed her town with the community at her side bringing influences from her home country Sicily. People like to connect with nature and Alan Hurley is a guerrilla gardener and through their organisation #MadAboutCork are making small but radical differences to neglected parts of the city. In East Cork the Ballymaloe empire and school of cookery with magnificent gardens are inspirational to visit, dine or take a cookery course. Rory O’Connell tells the story of their organic gardens and of connecting with the soil

photo: Ballymaloe Cookery School Shell House at Ballymaloe 26

and how we all need to know about where our food is sourced. The key point of the central importance of good food in city living is well made. The ‘shell house’ is among its many hidden architectural gems. Jose Ospina provides a radical guide to the potential of self build housing schemes offering an alternative to the norms of housing provision. This could work well in Cork as it has done in Berlin, Copenhagen and Amsterdam. We need to break away from suburban pattern book housing. No book about Cork in 2018 can duck the issue of the flood defences that are proving so controversial in the city and a running example of top down government imposition. Rising sea levels and the increasing frequency of extreme weather events will affect all low lying towns and cities but the solutions available are many and varied. Walter Menteth’s essay looks at the example of Portsmouth in the UK and how community action has been working to widen the discussion and look at alternatives, based on an holistic view of the options available and to challenge the ‘silo thinking’ of the government engineers. In Cork a similar role is being taken by the ‘Save Cork City’ campaign with “Love the Lee” flood defence group. Andrew Carr in his paper makes proposals via the Morrison’s Quay architectural competition that this group arranged, suggesting how the necessary but prosaic lumps of engineering, can be reimagined as multi functional pieces of street furniture that both prevent flooding and contribute to the social life of the city. Elsewhere in the region the Bantry Bay, “Protect our Native Kelp Forest” group are fighting the threat of mechanical kelp extraction in the bay


Angela Brady

photo: Port of Cork Above; The stone warehouses on the Cork quayside have a richness not only in architectural merit but in anchoring it in its history, culture and identity. They tell the story of past lives and times - still in living memory in the community and offer optimism and hope for the future.

Right; Les Docks In Marseille Facing the coastline, La Joliette has many strengths. It enjoys a strategic location between the port and downtown with remarkable accessibility. The EuromĂŠditerranĂŠe project broke ground in 1992 with the renovation of the Docks building completed in 2002 and the development of the Place de la Joliette, completed in 1998. Since then the area has been transformed into an attractive and dynamic business district of international scope. New homes and office buildings and public spaces are located between the city and the port intertwine to make this place a desirable vibrant place to live and work.

photo: MFC Architecture 27


The Cork Papers which could adversely affect local fishing and marine life. ‘There was no public consultation’. Local opposition in Skibbereen is opposing what some see an environmentally damaging plastics factory and An Bord Pleanala recently gave permission for a controversial waste-toenergy plant in Cork harbour. When people are kept in the dark until after decisions are made, they will naturally object. It’s time to instigate a proper consultation process, so that change can happen, with support - not suspicion from the community. Charles Campion of JTP one of the leaders in community consultation has released a book, “20/20 Visions: Collaborative Planning and Placemaking”, to help communities engage with planning and consultation. He says “All too often communities are shut out of the real design and decision making processes for where they live and they are usually only involved in cursory consultation when it is too late to make a real input. History has shown that this can lead to ill-conceived, unpopular and unsustainable developments”. Charles continues; “Just as the act of voting is a right, it is inherently democratic to bring people genuinely to the heart of planning and place making”. His book aims to give practitioners and communities the inspiration and confidence to introduce Charrettes into their planning processes. Twenty international case studies illustrate the strengths of the Charrette process and shows that they can be delivered for a range of project types and scales. As an architect I enjoy the community consultation 28

process. After all it is the community that have to live with design decisions, so it is essential to ask their opinion and win their trust and respect to give them what they want and need. Charles concludes, “It is time to change the way things are done and to bring communities genuinely to the heart of planning and place making.” Many of these papers refer to the fact that in Europe and UK public consultation is becoming the norm for all manner of government decision making - but let’s not mention Brexit! Community involvement is a key driver for the success of any project. In order to lead you must listen before acting - community consultation should be an essential and integral part of the way any mature city or county carries out its decision making process and that consultation must be embraced as a positive and important contribution and not a cynical tick box exercise. For proof of this look no further than Giulia Vallone’s community led projects in Clonakilty or Mikael Coville Anderson’s inspiring paper on the triumph of cycling in Copenhagen. These papers have wider messages for Cork city as a whole and the way that future projects could proceed best with widespread public support. ‘Sometimes residents will have a say, but the message from committees is likely more reflective of the committee rather than the people they represent’. Local architect and campaigner Kevin Smyth says; “The City Council under City Architects has a strong history of urban regeneration and community led engagement. The dependency on project based finance and centrally funded projects alongside recessionary pressure have


Angela Brady

photos courtesy of Cork Co. Co 1916 Commemoration

photo: JTP

photo: Pure Cork 29


The Cork Papers led to a stagnation of these initiatives over the last decade. Cork was one of the earliest councils to adopt a full on approach to dealing with problematic housing ‘solutions’ from the 1970’s. A corner stone of this success was public engagement and asking the residents what they wanted”. Kevin went on to say “They transformed numerous derelict buildings and sites in the 1990’s into new housing in the city centre and reclaimed problematic estates from the grip of anti-social behaviour. This was hard work - but it worked with a large community buy in at the time”. One can point to a new community led success at Skibbereen’s ‘Ludgate Hub’ a start up business facility, championed by David Putnam, which brought in a 1GB internet connection to transform the way local firms do business. This success is community led against the background failure of central government to provide an adequate internet infrastructure to many parts of the country which holds businesses back, particularly small to medium sized firms and start ups.

Sometimes we cannot see the beauty on our own doorstep or value our own city’s history, culture and identity Having travelled to over 100 cities in my professional life I have come to value cities like Copenhagen and Aarhus, where I lived for 18 months as a post graduate student. I have seen them change and develop over time in such a positive way. All value their city waterfront and treat it as their main asset and there is no reason why Cork cannot do the same by growing as a 30

‘people led and people first’ community. How is it that the Danes recognise the value of good design and sustainable living - from cycling to house design. Why can’t Cork engage with its riverside landscape like Copenhagen, Aarhus or even Bristol and make it a special destination. When I sat on the active Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) / English Heritage Urban Panel for seven years, we visited over 25 cities, market or seaside towns around the UK, to advise local authorities and development groups on major new projects. We acted as a ‘critical friend’ through a diverse group of advisors and experts, to encourage them to see the bigger picture beyond the red line boundaries and point them towards good examples of similar work to take inspiration from. We saw at first hand the damage to cities inflicted since the 1960’s by the road engineers’ power over the pedestrian with their car first policies and we try to help them repair their urban fabric. We must create healthier, cleaner, more walkable and liveable cities which will require dramatically changing our love affair with the car in favour of life as a cyclist and bring back our cities for the pedestrian. Cork has so many natural advantages to support and facilitate this change of perspective and I hope that these Cork Papers can contribute to the conversation about the best ways to make this happen.

The Focus is now on Cork; Please seize this opportunity


photo: Pure Cork

31 photo: Pure Cork


The Cork Papers

In a Lingua Franca of Water By Brian Lalor

The river channels define the place, their proximity often startling to the visitor. You have just left one quay wall and a few streets away the scene opens on to another river view. Have you become disoriented and returned to the original quayside? No, this is Cork and you are experiencing what Edmund Spenser, Elizabethan planter and poet described in 1590 as 'The spreading Lee that like an island fayre, Encloseth Corke with his divided flood’. The singularity of the place devolves from its topography, brooding hills to north and south, a sun-filled valley in between, the light of the

sky reflected in that ‘divided flood’. Conserving this historic and magical core while embracing contemporary pressures and priorities must lie at the heart of any sustainable solution to maintaining Cork as a place in which to live and to delight.

St Patrick’s Hill with an improbable bus sign.

St Patrick’s Hill, its gradient of 25% has not deterred nineteenth-century merchants’ house building - or

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The early maps tell us much about this watery environment, a city built among the reedy islands of a delta on the River Lee (hence the Gaelic name Corcaigh, denoting a marsh). Jonathan Speed’s seventeenth century map shows a small rectilinear walled settlement

present-day car parking.


photos: Brian Lalor The wider northern channel of the River Lee with twentieth-century expansion on the hills.

among the wandering river channels. The imprint of that city plan is still to be found, palimpsest-like, in a grid of streets and alleyways surrounding the North and South Main Streets. During the eighteenth century the late-medieval town expanded into a more ambitious Georgian townscape with the paving over of further waterways to the east of the original enclosure. Abruptly, urban development took on a defiant swagger: broad boulevards, today represented by St Patrick’s Street, the Grand Parade and the South Mall, were created out of the remaining

waterways. Cork had broken out of its medieval bounds and become a gracious commercial metropolis, a trading and maritime urban entrepot, strategically poised between Britain, Europe and the American colonies, with the inestimable advantage of being the last fresh food provisioning source before the Atlantic crossing. All the principal arteries of today’s city had been established by the early years of the nineteenth century. The rising hills overlook the river basin, their intensity of occupation clinging to the slopes with all the precariousness of swallow’s nests. 33


The Cork Papers testament to the enduring charm of nicotinestained walls, the Long Valley with its tables rescued from a marine disaster of the distant past, Henchy’s in St Luke’s on the hills, a pub for drinkers disposed to discuss with strangers the philosophy of Jurgen Habermas or the merits of road bowls, a death defying local sport, played with a iron ball amongst the traffic of the public by-roads.

Winter sunlight on the corner of Camden Place and Bridge Street.

The streets between the hills are likewise teeming with life and occupation, the open air market of the Coal Quay, the covered spaces of the English Market (the latter the finest indoor food market on the island of Ireland). The Huguenot Quarter off St Patrick’s street is a place of cafés and restaurants in which to while away the hours, with a scatter of pubs providing every form of drinking experience. There are in the city many distinguished music venues presenting the lively contemporary music culture of Cork and the region. For a city of its size, Cork is poorly provided with parks and has few public monuments of significance: Father Theobald Mathew, 'the apostle of temperance' graces St Patrick’s Street, his mission ‘to banish the demon drink’ as yet unfulfilled. The vivid pub-life of the city continues to be among its major attractions; among the long-established pubs, the Hi-B, a 34

The Cork region is blessed with deposits of a pale silvery limestone and sandstone of salamilike richness. Most of the public buildings are dressed with this limestone that seems capable of glowing even in the depths of a downpour. The portico of St Mary’s Church on the northern river channel exploits the luminosity of the stonework. A local architectural peculiarity is the combining of both limestone and sandstone in the same building, as in St Annes Shandon, a variant on the Christopher Wren-style telescopic London city churches, in this case by a lesser hand. Shandon (from sean dun, the old fort) underlies the pervasive Gaelic topographical place names that underpin their later Anglicized versions. The architectural fabric of Cork is a case of texture with an abundance of charm, yet it does not have many distinguished individual buildings, excepting the Neoclassical and Gothic Revival public architecture, virtually all of it essays in limestone. Of more provocative interest are four individual buildings from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: predictably, three of them are churches, one an institute of education. St Fin Barre’s Cathedral (1877) by William Burges, regarded as his masterpiece, was won


Brian Lalor St Mary’s Church, Popes Quay, by Kearns Deane, 1832, with the steeple of St Annes Shandon, 1722, to the left.

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The Cork Papers in competition (amid protests from his rivals) by ignoring much of the brief. St Fin Barre’s is a product of the ecclesiological movement in Britain that regarded French Gothic of the thirteenth century as the essence of Christian architecture (while denigrating Classicism as ‘pagan’). Its detailing and sculptural decoration gloriously reflects that medieval aesthetic. The sighting is magnificent although the internal scale clashes with true Gothic norms: St Fin Barre’s is proportionally both too tall and too short on plan, yet Burges’ masterful handling almost overcomes such hiccups. The Honan Chapel (1916) at University College Cork by J.M.McMullen is a case of a building of slight architectural merit being transformed into a treasure chest by the glory of its Arts and Crafts interior. The decoration incorporates Harry Clarke and An Túr Gloine symbolist stained glass of international significance, with metalwork, altar furnishings and mosaics by the leading practitioners of their day, together creating an extraordinary ensemble of Gaelic Revival imagery. The Church of Christ the King (1927) in the drab suburb of Turner’s Cross is by Barry Byrne, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West. It reflects European Expressionism as well as Prairie School Modernism. Constructed of reinforced concrete, its brilliance remained unappreciated in the deeply reactionary ecclesiastical environment of its time, while the local society of stonemasons boycotted its construction. Aesthetically, Christ The King induces a shock to the senses when the viewer realizes that only eleven years separate its assertive modernism from the romantic dream of the Honan Chapel. 36

Cork Institute of Technology / CIT campus by de Blacam and Meagher (1994) is a tour-de-force of brick architecture that from its inception established itself as a major contribution to the architecture of its time, even managing to out-class the Gothic Revival quadrangle of University College Cork, in its sense of timeless dignity and authority. The CIT Library won the RIAI Gold Medal. In the 1970’s the Cork-born poet and Trinity College academic, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, imagined Cork as ‘in a lingua franca of water’. Among the threats to the future life of the city, inundation by flood waters remains seasonally potent. Gridlock and traffic strangulation requires no seasonal encouragement but occurs daily. It will demand the combined wit and wisdom of many minds to ferry Cork onto a new imaginative plateau in harmony with the civic foresight of its Viking, Gaelic, Norman, English and Huguenot founders, and worthy of the aspirations of their present-day descendants.

Patrician and vernacular emphasises the contrast of dignity and modesty in much of Cork's inner city architecture. Right:The English market


Brian Lalor

37 photo: Pure Cork


The Cork Papers

Cork City: A Second Chance for a New Docklands City By Sean Kearns It is a constant source of irritation to Corkonians when they read learned articles in esteemed periodicals on their beloved city to find immediate reference to its relationship to Dublin within the first paragraph. Just as I have done now.

Dublin City Region accounts for 40% of the population and 49% of economic output. By comparison, The London Metropolitan Area, a global city of 14 million people, contains 22% of the UK’s population and accounts for 32% of its GDP.

The other constant irritant is the ubiquitous reference to the “second city syndrome” as most Cork people do not regard their city as being second to anyone, based on its own 1,000 year history of independent maritime trading with Europe and beyond. However, it is hard to avoid using these phrases or making comparisons to other second cities in other European or North American countries.

The growth of Dublin is an unsustainable national situation and it is now the role of government to concentrate on the development of Ireland’s regional cities to rebalance the country, and in particular, to apply a renewed focus on the development of Cork city.

Cork is a small regional city that is similar in scale to other European regional maritime cities such as Portsmouth, Aarhus, Aberdeen and Bordeaux. There are many issues to be addressed by the city, in particular growth (or lack of growth in recent years) and how it manages its future. However, Cork is not a mini Dublin even though it has opportunities to learn from the capital’s recent expansion into docklands areas over the last 30 years. Cork’s place in the world is to be found in the recently published National Development Plan “Project Ireland 2040 Plan”. The document lays out the current status quo whereby the 38

The population of Cork city within its narrow boundaries has remained relatively static at about 125,000 people over the last 100 years and in comparison to the national growth levels the population of the city core has effectively declined. By comparison the population of Cork County has grown significantly to over half a million with a population in the Cork metropolitan area of approximately 150,000 around the city core of 125,000 people. In 2017 the Government commissioned an expert advisory group, chaired by the former chief planner for the Scottish Government, Jim McKinnon, to review the boundaries of Cork city in order to see if they can reign in those cork suburbs that have gone on a walk in the countryside as per planning policy dating back


Sean Kearns

View of Cork North Ridge

to the 1967 Satellite Towns Strategy. A new Extension Boundary map based on this report was approved by government in December 2017 and the process of transferring an additional 82,000 people into the Cork city jurisdiction is currently ongoing. This will increase the population of the city to over 200,000 people making it a more viable proposition for inward investment with an improved rate base for infrastructural development. The future of Cork city is of national as well as regional importance. It has been a trading city for centuries and remains as Ireland’s preeminent location for agricultural and maritime industry. From 1917 to the mid-eighties it was the centre of Ireland’s automotive industries based around the Ford and Dunlop factories

in the Cork Docklands. Currently it is the European headquarters for Apple, Dell EMC and many other major pharma and medical device companies such as Eli Lilly and Boston Scientific are located here. Apple alone employs 6,000 people, the same number of people who were employed in the Ford factory at its height of production. Cork city has all the key attributes for a successful city. It has an international airport, a deep water harbour, the well established and renowned University College Cork, a growing and ambitious Cork Institute of Technology and the Cork city region is a centre of excellence for biosciences, pharma, food science and the information technology industries. It also has a vibrant city centre, cited in 2010 by Lonely Planet 39


The Cork Papers

#MadAboutCork electrical boxes

as one of the top ten cities to visit in the world due to its friendliness, relaxed charm and wit. It is a youthful and active city with a plethora of festivals such as the Cork Jazz festival, the international film festival and theatre festivals and boat races. The city also has a major asset that has yet to be exploited to its full potential. There is a massive opportunity for the creation of new city quarters for a burgeoning population in the 140 hectares of prime docklands located on both sides of the river Lee close to the city centre. This is the only significant location available for Cork city’s future growth and represents a massive potential for new development. Interesting to note; there has been no significant office or residential development constructed within the boundaries of the North Docks Local Area Plan or South Docks Local Area Plan 16 years after the publication of the Cork Docklands Development Strategy in 2001. 40

This is despite many ambitious schemes such as The Atlantic Quarter, a €850 million 27 storey apartment and office scheme for Howard Holdings designed by Sir Norman Foster, a €750 million mixed use development at Marina Commercial Park by Henry J Lyons Architects, The Goldcrop Office development on Centre Park Road for McCarthy Developments by Murray O Laoire Architects, the 220 apartment Water Street residential scheme for Mc Mahon Timber also by Murray O’Laoire Architects and a 50,000sq.m mixed use development for Origin by Reddy Architecture + Urbanism which was part of an overall masterplan for the IAWS land along Kennedy Quay. All of these wonderful schemes fell by the wayside during the Great Recession and now occupy prominent positions in the Annals of Unbuilt Cork. While much can be explained by the Great Recession, a major stumbling block is Cork’s inability to find the public or private investment necessary for vital infrastructure, so it has remained prohibitively expensive to develop the remaining docklands. In recent years there have been some very positive developments in the Cork Docklands such as: The 16,000sq.m One Albert Quay office development by John Cleary Developments. The commencement of construction of the 29,000sq.m Navigation Square office development by O’Callaghan Properties and the proposals for the Horgan’s Quay masterplan, next to Cork’s Kent train station, for a €160 million mixed-use development consisting of a major hotel, office and residential scheme by the Clarendon Properties/BAM consortium.


Sean Kearns

The Horgan’s Quay’s 35,000sq.m office development is by O’Mahoney Pike Architects with Wilson Architecture provides a hotel Reddy Architecture + Urbanism provides the 216 apartment residential development, all address a new urban plaza linking the railway station to the river at Horgan’s Quay. This masterplan demonstrates how the docklands could be developed in an urban and sustainable manner with a live/work ethos based around a transport node and the creation of new public spaces that are integrated into the street and quayside. The HQ development was granted planning permission in April 2018. The conundrum for Cork City development has been that without the population densities to support the investment needed, there is no funding available to invest in the infrastructure to make them the vibrant urban centres, to attract the population in the first place. With the expansion of the city boundaries

and the focus on Cork for growth it is hoped that the investment for the docklands may be now more forthcoming. I am of a generation that remembers the desolation of the Dublin Docklands in 1980’s when there was a serious attempt by the Government to tackle the development deficit of Dublin with the creation of the IFSC. I believe that a similar concerted and focussed manner needs to be applied to Cork city in the interest of regional balanced development for the country to tackle our national housing and infrastructural deficit crisis.

This is an investment at a national level, that not only Cork City needs, but the country also requires in the interest of balanced and strategic national planning

Horgan’s Quay; left - Reddy Architecture + Urbanism, right - O’Mahoney Pike Architects

41 CGI: Pedersen Focus


The Cork Papers

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43 photo: Port of Cork


The Cork Papers

Re-connecting/Re-thinking/ Re-focusing/Reflecting By Stephen D. Willacy

There are numerous similarities between Aarhus and Cork. Apart from being their respective countries second largest cities; Cork with 130,000 inhabitants whilst Aarhus has 330,000. They share a Viking heritage, are important river/coastal harbours with international status, have large top quality universities with important connections to the business community and have outstanding landscapes. Both cities have also been European City of Culture; Cork in 2005 and Aarhus during 2017. In early 2018, Aarhus City Council together with the Epinion company, conducted a survey on the Council’s ambitions for the city. Over 1,600 citizens were interviewed on “what makes Aarhus a good city for you”. The survey shows that the citizens value its rich and unique local natural setting with high quality cultural amenities, and its internationally acclaimed university education, in a relatively large second tier city. A second tier city like Aarhus has lifted its mindset from being an important regional city in Jutland, to being an internationally 44

orientated and important catalyst for national and international economic growth, whilst at the same time strengthening local identity and liveability. The three core themes to focus on are; re-connecting our city with its natural heritage whilst expanding the international container harbour; re-thinking culture as a regional binding agent and international branding tool, whilst at the same time strengthening local pride and re-focusing business culture by investing in talent and prioritising innovative business clusters, enhancing national and international competitiveness and awareness through collaboration, partnerships and networks in Business Region Aarhus. Re-connecting city with nature’s heritage The present name Aarhus or Århus stems from the original Viking name Aros meaning, “the mouth of the river”, the Aarhus Å. This fact is quite significant in terms of rediscovering its heritage because, for many years, the Aarhus Å was covered over by one of the main access roads to the industrial harbour. This main thoroughfare still carried the name Åboulevarden although the river was hidden from view. During the 1980’s the idea


Stephen D Willacy

photos courtesy of Stephen Willacy

of opening the river up again was discussed, although very unpopular at the time, because of the risks associated with closing a primary road. The city architect and councillors succeeded in gaining approval and in 1994 the first section was completed, and in 2016 the final stretch towards the river mouth opened in conjunction with the opening of DOKK1. This masterpiece of urban governance enabled a political vision that has been completely transformational through a combination of bold and intelligent urban planning and design, re-inventing the inner city and creating one of the most popular streets in Aarhus. Similarly Aarhus harbour and its frontage have undergone a phenomenal transformation over the past three decades. During the late 1980’s the former container harbour had become too shallow for the new generation of container ships and a new harbour was planned, taking

advantage of the deeper waters of Aarhus Bay. This relocation opened up a whole new series of opportunities for regenerating the harbour district, which spans approximately 3kms in a north-south axis. As in many industrialised cities the water front and harbour areas became a massive wall of warehouses, workshops, factories, grain silos and major transport infrastructures. Of high importance was the need to re-address the relationship between the inner historical heart of the city and the harbour water area and distant bay. This wall of industry had cut off the visual and physical contact between its historical city heritage and the reason for its founding location as a Bay City. The soul of the city needed to be re-connected. An international architectural competition for a masterplan was initiated and a winner announced in 1999. The main framework of 45


The Cork Papers

this masterplan has been the backbone, for the past two decades, of urban planning. The plan is conceived with three interlocking parts: Firstly transforming the container harbour towards the north into a thriving mixed community district for about 12,000 inhabitants. Secondly, the central area is aligned along the Aarhus Cathedral axis and conceived as the inner harbour’s recreation square which was completed in 2107. This new public space is captured between the DOKK1, towards the south with its new main library and multi-media centre with 1,000 underground fully automated parking spaces and towards the north, the Navitas building which is the home of Aarhus University’s 2,500 students of Engineering and Machine Master faculties. Thirdly, a new innovation business district towards the south is currently being planned. All three districts are interlinked by a continuous ‘creative promenade’. 46

The transformation of the harbour frontage together with the location of Denmark’s new International Sailing Centre in Aarhus has opened up new opportunities for water related cultural activities. Re-thinking culture Culture has been at the heart of Aarhus since the 1980’s when it was the centre of the Danish music scene. Aarhus Concert Hall which had 547,000 visitors in 2017 and was built in 1982 proved to be a truly visionary move, kindling the cultural heart of Aarhus. ARoS Aarhus Art Museum which had 980,900 visitors in 2017, became its neighbour in 2004. Olafur Eliasson’s Your Rainbow Panorama was built on its rooftop in 2011, becoming an iconic part of the city skyline and an important international brand.


Stephen D Willacy

Next door at Godsbanen the city’s former freight yard was converted into a Cultural Production Centre opening in 2012. It is a unique community of cultural opportunities with a distinctly informal atmosphere with open workshops, studios, project rooms, auditoriums, theatre stages and dance spaces that are available to everyone. In the neighbouring freight yard building’s Institute, another type of temporary/permanent creative community, has organically grown into an important creative hub. This small village consists of over 80 start-up companies, which coexist with the Cultural Production Centre. It has become a new creative quarter with a quirky edge and a tourist destination for Aarhus. This vitality and energy combined with its central location are the primary reasons for the Aarhus School of Architecture to move to this location in 2021. The synergies and creative energy between the different organisations will undoubtedly become a new powerhouse for future talent. Just 5-10 minutes walk away is the highly acclaimed Den Gammel By, The Old Town with 571,167 visitors in 2017. The recently completed DOKK1, is located at an important hinge point between Aarhus river Åen and the new harbour front. It has quickly become the most popular cultural venue in the city attracting 1.3 million visitors annually as well as being an important transport hub, with its light railway stop and 1,000 parking spaces. Towards the south on the outskirts of the city, Moesgaard Museum, 312,144 visitors in 2017,

is a critically acclaimed architecture synthesis with its historically sensitive landscape setting. Undoubtedly the single most important event in Aarhus’ history since the National Exhibition in 1909, was hosting the European City of Culture in 2017. Inspired by the theme “Lets Re-Think: Democracy, Sustainability, Diversity”, culture was celebrated in all of its forms in a deeply rooted cooperation between the Central Region of Denmark’s 19 municipalities. This has attracted unprecedented interest with 2.6 million participants and it has been mentioned numerous times in national and international media. In July 2017 it had peak visitor numbers with a record year for conferences. In terms of legacy as with previous European Cities of Culture, Aarhus will reap many benefits in years to come. Re-focusing business culture Aarhus has had a rapid increase in population of 4,000 to 5,500 people annually over the last decade and in 2017 - 6,500 new jobs were created. This prognosis indicates a growth from the current 330,000 citizens to around 450,000 by 2050. This aligns with global tendencies, so it is important that our government recognises our huge contribution to a better quality of life and to the national economy that is being made by our regional cities. Other global tendencies are that businesses are moving back to cities because they recognize the mutual benefits of being connected to everyday life, universities, international schools and the proximity to welfare services. In Aarhus, the formation of innovative environments 47


The Cork Papers

began in the 1990’s with the development of the IT city Katrinebjerg, today a lively community with 3,000 employees, students and 120 IT related businesses and knowledge institutions. Aarhus is known as the windmill capital of the world where leading companies locate their research and development departments in the city. The most recent newcomer is Chinese Goldwind, China’s largest wind turbine producer. Specialisation and integration in global economies creates a mutual dependency upon a highly educated workforce. So Aarhus with over 53,000 students is fundamentally important in the formation of specialised clusters where research, knowledge, know-how, cutting edge technologies and ready access to supply chains are key drivers for attracting investors and future opportunities. Cooperation between neighbouring City Councils in the region has existed since 1994 and has gathered speed in 48

recent years. Today Business Region Aarhus is a partnership between 12 councils and represents a population of 971,561 which is the largest single growth area outside the capital. There is a critical mass of 1.2 million people living within an hour’s drive of Aarhus. This co-operation across municipal or administrative boundaries has also helped to strengthen cohesion between towns and countryside communities. The cities and the networking opportunity between business leaders and politicians in East Jutland are based on proximity and accessibility and it makes the path to solutions and initiatives easier.

If Denmark is to be successful in international competition, there is a need for networking between cities


The transition of the industrial segmented city into a traditional central structured city is now being replaced by new networking models based upon partnerships and alliances, irrespective of administrative or political geography. An open source mindset and trust, are key drivers where administrative borders are erased. Reflecting Cities are complex organisms and undergo constant change. To stand still is to stagnate and die. There is a growing awareness of their mechanisms and a keen dependence on new insight and the need for openness to adopt this knowledge in our age of increased flux. Second tier cities such as Aarhus and Cork have a great deal in common, but they also have their own unique qualities and special idiosyncrasies which we need to identify, build upon and adapt to the future. They are context specific, both physically and mentally. I hope that through the three main themes addressed here, it is possible

to see the interconnectedness between them. Aarhus is located where it is because of the relationship between its landscape, the river and its bay waters but we forgot this fact during our industrial growth. Over the past 30 years we have been re-inventing our city with a greater awareness for our cities roots and connectivity with its natural surroundings, whilst acknowledging new demands for an international scale harbour with global connectivity. Similarly by re-thinking culture during the European City of Culture in 2017 and refocusing business by investing in talent, we recognise the importance and dependence upon partnerships, alliances and networks, irrespective of physical or administrative boundaries. Aarhus and its citizens have gained in confidence and are developing a mindset focused towards a more international outlook, whilst at the same time being firmly grounded in its local heritage. 49


The Cork Papers

Significance in Urban Cork By John Hegarty

Photo by R.S. Magowan 1961 St Mary’s Popes Quay Kearns Deane

Palladian architecture arrived in Ireland in the late 17th Century and evolved into a finely detailed but Spartan modernism for the time. The change was revolutionary. The new architecture was clean, simple and sometimes monumental yet as modern and economical as ever seen before. Clean lines and classical forms replaced the fortified buildings of the previous era. The change signified an Irish age of reason in architecture which visually forms 50

a large part of our distinctive built heritage. Despite the loss of many buildings in Cork, a great amount of our historic architecture is still intact and is derived from this significant period of expansion. The urban landscape of Cork reflects the richness of a city emerging from the uncertainty of the Medieval Age towards the Age of Enlightenment that grew across the


John Hegarty

continent from the 16th Century onwards. The urban form of Cork stems from a tradition that is rooted in Greek theory where creating order in cities became a requirement, as well as an aspiration. By the early 18th Century Cork fully embraced the rules of European urbanism applying them with great skill to the distinctive landscape of the city. As the Greeks would angle a temple or amphitheatre to relate to a change in topography or a coastal form, here in Cork buildings were placed to relate to the waterways and the topography of the river valley to deliberate effect. Like the Greeks and the Romans, Cork gave significance to public buildings by increased size and scale, dramatic or picturesque location and a separate material quality. By contrast the general mat of other buildings maintained a uniform height and scale, dependant on the width of the spaces they lined. Public buildings sat within the simplicity of the urban mat whose uniform façades were dotted with entrance door cases detailed as miniature classical temples. The distinct nature of our available building materials of cut stone, brick and slate added to the specific character that defined the city. John Butt’s view of Cork c.1750, (Crawford Art Gallery) shows buildings of handmade bricks and limestone detail with steep roofs and gable fronts which are comparable to Flemish or Dutch cities or even the London of the 17th Century. Our buildings sometimes described as regional in modern times were certainly not so in the classical Cork of the 16th to the 20th Century. Cork was part of an Anglo Dutch tradition that

traded throughout the world with ingenuity that allowed it to grow rapidly and fashionably embellish the city with impressive architecture. The 18th and early 19th Century Irish architecture embraced a unified identity defined by economy of design. In Cork this meant that minimalist yet decorated buildings of rare simplicity formed the general urban façades that defined and surveyed the generous public spaces reclaimed from the river inlets and old quaysides. Public buildings rose from the general mat of buildings declaring their obvious significance. The new Irish approach to building design was simple in form and rich and individual in detail and no less so in a prosperous Cork. The steep roofs of the late 17th and early 18th Centuries became the hidden roofs and parapets of the city landscape of the 19th Century. Timber was always scarce and generally imported from the Balkan states. As the Napoleonic wars progressed it became even more difficult to obtain and an aesthetic of sophisticated delicacy developed in architecture and furniture. This later Palladian or Georgian architecture is well recognised for its exceptional design integrity. Plentiful plaster replaced timber in many cases internally and externally. In Cork timber was retained for significant joinery and used for front doors, windows and shopfronts. The front door as the expression of the interface between public and private was often elaborate yet based on an exceptional accuracy in classical detail largely due to the academic interpretation by joinery shops of classical pattern books. 51


The Cork Papers

Comparisons can be made between the historic plan of Emmet Place and Michelangelo's Piazza del Campidoglio (Capitoline Hill), Rome. Reinterpreting organic space to classical effect defined the Renaissance landscape of Rome as it did in the 18th Century landscape of Cork where existing building lines could become the sophisticated tool of false perspective or express the picturesque ideals of the age. The reinterpreted Grand Parade as a large rectangular place can be compared to the Piazza Navona in Rome; both spaces with buildings of continuous height reflecting the width of the space they address and both defined by a central baroque fountain. The further addition of what is distinct in Cork like our technologically advanced bow fronted houses and the exaggerated perspective of the space with one open end addressing the river makes the Grand Parade as it was one of the most important classical public spaces in Ireland and of international importance.

How we build within the historic city will define our future if development and heritage concerns are to be given warranted consideration 52

There is much to develop in Cork outside the core but how we build within the historic city will define our future if development and heritage concerns are to be given warranted consideration. Protecting our heritage begins with realising that the historic built fabric of Cork is of an international standard and significance. Protecting what we have is about our wellbeing and about protecting the distinctiveness of our city and the potential for related economic and social gain. We need to agree that the conservation of the scale, form and material quality of our historic city can be driven by analysis of what it is that makes it distinctive and that we should not design buildings in Cork or plan for Cork without understanding exactly what it is that makes Cork a specific place. Look through the Lawrence collection photos of Cork or compare the images of the incomplete Holy Trinity Church on Morrison’s Island with the incomplete church of San Zaninovo in Venice and you will know how significant Cork is. There is a need for restoration and for much conservation but it is also through ingenious design that considers context by which we can repair the significance of the city. We have seen much damage to urban Cork in recent decades where buildings of the general urban mat have been constructed in alien materials and scale, competing for significance with our established public buildings.


John Hegarty

Š National Library Holy Trinity Church before completion, Cork (c. 1870)

San Zaninovo, Venice (San Giovanni Nuovo)(c. 1740)

Š Cork Lawrence Collection 53 photo: John Hegarty


The Cork Papers

photo: Jörg von Bruchhausen Neues Museum, Berlin (1997-2009), © SPK / David Chipperfield Architects New port Street Galley, London (2004 - 2015), © Caruso St John Architects

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photo: Hélène Binet


John Hegarty

Every new development competes for more attention and that loud voice represents a major dilution of the tried and tested rules of building in an historic setting. Some of our public projects of noble intent like the Peoples Park have caused significant damage. The space was created from the demolition of a rare medieval block of buildings from within the city walls and broke the line of the building facade of Grand Parade creating a missing tooth and a leaking of the contained space. The demolition also revealed the back of buildings to the street which broke another absolute of our European urban tradition where building façades always address public space and rear elevations are hidden from view. Ingenious repair of demolished urban fabric can be done while retaining urban space but it requires exceptional design ability and a respectful bow to local context. Contemporary architecture that is respectful of setting, scale and material continuity is long overdue in the historic core of the city. Carlo Scarpa began the post war conversation on how to combine new design elements with historic architecture and his work still influences great projects like the David Chipperfield Neues Museum in Berlin or his radical proposal for the Castelo Sforzesco in Milan. In the UK the Newport Street Gallery by Caruso St John is an exercise in subtle interpretation of setting and respect for the historic fabric that led to the integration of different industrial existing buildings into one overall entity. Developments like Borneo-Sporenburg near Amsterdam are an inspiration as they recognise scale and variety of ownership with key design

guidelines creating a new socially integrated urban environment. We should not forget how the Temple Bar project reconstructed an ailing historic urban landscape in Dublin and recognise the approach to the retention of and reference to the historic qualities of scale, material quality and urban truisms that made the project successful. Ciaran O’Connor of the Office of Public Works recently illustrated the Town Hall in Murcia, Spain by Rafael Moneo; a respectful approach to urban design in an historic place in a subtle and beautiful modern building that knows exactly where it is. If we look beyond Cork to Bordeaux and Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Porto or the UNESCO site of Liverpool Docks we can learn how our city can be. In combination we must study what it is that makes Cork a specific place so we may retain our unique identity. Let’s hope that the repair of the wounds we have inflicted on the historic core of Cork can start from now and that our river city can regain some of its previous significance through good design in the historic centre. In Cork this can only happen with good planning supported by strong leadership, unchanged by external or political pressures.

We must study what it is that makes Cork a specific place so we may retain our unique identity

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The Cork Papers

Heritage in the People’s Republic By Peter Murray In 2017 the World Travel Award’s “leading tourist attraction” went to Machu Picchu, the ancient Inca citadel perched high in the mountains of Peru. Second place however went to Spike Island in Cork, a heritage site that only in recent years has come to the fore as a visitor destination, having previously served as a military base and prison. The award to Spike Island was the culmination of four decades of achievement in the restoration and management of publicly-owned heritage sites throughout Cork city and county. A glance at how this management has evolved reveals outstanding successes and also some curious anomalies. Both city and county now enjoy international recognition in the management of sites that bring history alive, and provide an insight into the conditions under which the majority of people lived in Munster during past centuries. The sites that have proved most popular, and where most public funds have been invested, relate to labour history, emigration and famine, industrial development and military conflict. There seems less appetite at local government level to introduce tourists to eighteenth-century stuccowork, cutglass decanters, silverware, townhouses or Palladian mansions—this task is left mainly to private house owners. The pre-eminent Cork tourist destination, Blarney Castle—with its 56

fifteenth-century castle, gardens, and Blarney House—is privately owned. In West Cork, Bantry House, a popular visitor destination, is also family-owned, as is Drishane House in Castletownshend, where there is a museum devoted to the writer and painter Edith Somerville. Another privately-owned house, Riverstown, near Cork city, is open to visitors by appointment. The other main historic houses in or near Cork county are either private homes or hotels; they include Kilshannig, Castle Hyde, Longueville, Killavullen, Inishannon, Cor Castle, Castle Freke, Dunkathel, Vienna Woods, Coolmore, Lota, Ballymaloe, Dunboy, Myrtle Grove, Strancally, Dromana and Ballynatrea. Convamore is in ruins, as is Bandon Castle, Vernon Mount and many others. The same pattern is repeated in the city. Around twenty years ago, the early eighteenth-century townhouse on Pope’s Quay was restored by Cork Civic Trust. Instead of becoming what was intended - an historic Georgian house open to the public - it has been used as offices ever since. The Queen Anne house on Emmet Place, restored in the 1980’s, houses a Starbucks café, while Cork’s 18th century Mayoralty House also contains administrative offices. Maryborough House is a hotel, while St. Peter’s Church on North Main Street, restored with the intention of making it an education centre for historic architecture, now houses Right: Drishane House Castletownsend


Peter Murray

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The Cork Papers

photo: Jed Niezgoda

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photo:Pure Cork


Peter Murray

an exhibition on maritime heritage. The Cork City Museum in Fitzgerald Park incorporates the 19th century Beamish House, but its rooms are used for displays relating to pre-history and the War of Independence. There is therefore no historic townhouse in Cork, in local authority ownership, restored and open to the public, that gives an idea of how these houses were lived in, when first built. As Cork was once famed internationally as a city of merchant princes, this is a puzzle. The city buildings in public ownership that have been saved and granted a new lease of life include Cork City Gaol (a former prison), Wandesford Quay (a paper mill), Cork Butter Market and Firkin Crane (both warehouses), Elizabeth Fort (a military barracks) and the National Sculpture Factory (a tram shed). In the county, Spike Island, Camden Fort Meagher and Ballincollig Gunpowder Mills, all former military bases, are under local authority care, while the railway station in Cobh houses the Queenstown Heritage Centre. Desmond Castle in Kinsale, once a prison, now houses an exhibition on wine, while not far distant, the OPW manages the seventeenth-century starshaped Charles Fort. In Midleton, the Jameson whiskey distillery centre, while not publicly owned, attracts large numbers of visitors annually. In Skibbereen, the story of Lough Hyne and the Famine is told in a former mill by the River Ilen. In East Cork, a former prison in the centre of Youghal—the Old Clock Tower— has also been opened as a tourist attraction. The thread connecting these buildings is that they were where ordinary people were employed, or were incarcerated. To most Irish people, these

sites speak of hard labour, military regimes, incarceration, emigration and the suppression of national identity. Fort Mitchell, on Spike Island, is named after the leader of the “Young Ireland” movement, held prisoner within its walls, before he was transported to Australia. Hospitals, schools and other benevolent institutions in Cork do not seem to enjoy the same measure of public care and protection, perhaps because the story they tell is more complex, and reflects a nineteenth century desire to educate and improve society. Religious buildings are a case in point. The recent magnificent restoration of South Presentation Convent in Cork city, a school originally founded by Nano Nagle, has been privately funded, with donations coming in from all over the world. But South Pres is an exception. When the Good Shepherd Convent in Sunday’s Well, derelict for over a decade, burned to the ground in 2012, the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. John Buttimer described it as a ‘wake up call’, but few heeded his words. Up to 1977, the convent had been home to one of Ireland’s infamous Magdalen laundries, and the building’s destruction was welcomed by many citizens of the city. Besborough House, once home to the wealthy Pike family, was later a convent and home for unmarried mothers. It has managed to re-invent itself as an enterprising centre for education and family care. Responsibility for heritage management falls mainly to the local authorities; Cork County Council; Cork City Council and to national government in the form of the Office of Public Works. Barryscourt Castle, near Spike 59


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Island and Fota, restored by the OPW some years ago, is currently closed, while Doneraile House, transferred from the Irish Georgian Society to the OPW, has been closed for decades, although there are plans now afoot to open at least the ground floor. The gardens at Doneraile receive half a million visitors a year. Not far from Doneraile, Annes Grove house and gardens have also been taken in hand by the OPW, although once again the house is closed and is likely to remain so for some time. However Bryce House on Garinish Island has been beautifully restored by the OPW and is open to visitors. The OPW is not impervious to public demand or local authority needs, and while resources are scarce, popular pressure to have these houses opened to visitors is clearly muted. There is at present, only one heritage house, in or near the city of Cork, that can be said to be in public ownership, and open to visitors. Fota House at the centre of Fota Island, not far from Spike Island, is a lone example of a house where visitors can see highquality paintings, decorative arts and furniture. Originally restored by Cork businessman Richard Wood in the early 1980’s it has since been acquired as the main asset of the Irish Heritage Trust, a not-for-profit organisation set up with government support in 2006. In 2017 the year that Spike Island rose to international fame in the tourist industry, the exquisite Vernon Mount house, an eighteenth century gem near the city, privately owned, that had lain derelict and unoccupied for over four decades, was destroyed by fire. The cantilevered staircase, and painted ceilings, by Nathaniel Grogan which were unique in Ireland, were 60

lost in the flames. The destruction of Vernon Mount follows a pattern not unfamiliar in Cork city in recent years, where unoccupied houses, disused hospitals and religious buildings have been destroyed by fire. Apart from a day or two of handwringing and regrets expressed at the loss of these examples of heritage architecture, there is an air of indifference, at almost all levels of society. There is a sense too, that with such cumbersome and expensive buildings out of the way, the sites can be developed in a modern and efficient way, for commercial use and housing. Hopefully this anomaly in Cork’s heritage management will not continue indefinitely. The recent opening of Bryce House and the anticipated opening of Doneraile House, and the acquisition of Annes Grove, may herald the belated arrival of what in most other developed countries is considered a norm, where great houses and gardens are taken into care and opened to the public and where the value of such visitor attractions to both local communities and the development of tourism is appreciated. The OPW seems more alert to this than local authorities in Cork, who are fearful of engaging, even in a limited way, with the private owners of heritage houses. At present, the history of Cork with its complexities, overlapping agendas and competing interests, is told largely through the voices of those who suffered most and gained least, as wealth was generated in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, through agriculture and industry. But the occupants of Cork’s great houses were by no means all rogues and rascals. The industry and enterprise


of merchants such as Cooper Penrose made Cork a great trading city, with worldwide connections. Penrose’s house, Woodhill, was demolished in the 1980’s and the site used for several modern developments. Paintings saved from Woodhill can now be seen in the Crawford Art Gallery, the former Customs House for the Port of Cork, that now serves as an art museum. Apart from the Penrose Rooms in the Crawford Gallery, there is no other space

in the city where the story of Cork’s merchant princes is told, alongside the story of those who made Penrose’s success an achievable dream. Those two sides of Cork society, so often bound together in voluntary and involuntary cooperation, or in conflict, or in friendship through troubled times, make up the entire story of city and county, and this is a story that should be told, in its entirety.

Doneraile House

61 Cork photo: Pure


The Cork Papers

Growing Pains: Expanding Cork into a Competitive City By Frank Mc Donald

Brendan Behan, the notorious Dublin playwright, explained the large number of Cork people who migrated to Ireland's capital by saying that every young fellow who left Cork was given a stone to put in his suitcase, instructed to throw it into the River Liffey as soon as he arrived at Kingsbridge (now Heuston) Station, and "if it floats, you're to come home".

to flooding, however. After several inundations in recent years, the Office of Public Works is pursuing a plan to raise the height of quay walls to protect the city centre. This is being vigorously opposed by Save Cork City, an ad hoc group that wants the money spent instead on a tidal barrier, which will be needed in the future anyway.

It was also commonly believed in Dublin that every Corkman had a "chip on his shoulder" about the historically unequal relationship between the two cities, derived from resentment at the overwhelming dominance of Dublin, compared to the relatively Lilliputian scale of Cork and the Republic's other "second-tier" cities - Limerick, Galway and Waterford.

The city centre has so many memorable landmarks in its compact layout — St Anne's Church, home of the famous Bells of Shandon; St Fin Barre's Cathedral, the last great Anglican foundation in Ireland; St Patrick' Hill, as steep as any in San Francisco; Cork City Hall, a plain man's version of the Custom House in Dublin; and of course, the Elysian Tower, tallest building in Ireland.

Having grown up in Dublin, I didn't expect to like Cork when I visited it for the first time as a UCD arts student. But it was so charming, laid out along and also in between two channels of the River Lee, that I was utterly captivated by the city. Cork Harbour, with Cobh (pronounced Cove) as its old transatlantic liner port, was quite as impressive as Dublin Bay. Cork's low-lying position makes it vulnerable 62

The latter, indeed, provides further evidence of what I have called Cork's "Chicago Syndrome" an irresistible urge by Corkonians to put one over on Dublin by building towers that trump those in the capital, even by a metre or two. That was true of Cork County Hall in the late 1960’s, just as it was of the Elysian, a swaggering monument to the 'Celtic Tiger' era. Certainly, estate agents’ hyperbole on the Elysian website


Frank McDonald

CIT photo:63 Peter Cook F22 Photography


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64 F22 Photography

photo: F22 Photography


Frank McDonald reflected the vaulting ambition of developers O’Flynn Construction to make a big statement ‘reflecting the aspiration of Cork City to compete with other world cities, its scale giving it a landmark character implying an in-built public significance as a building and location.’ Never before had I seen Cork referred to as a ‘world city’, even by implication. Rising to 17 storeys, with an overall height of 81 metres, the Elysian was intended to trump Dublin’s tallest building (Monte Vetro, Google’s European headquarters), in the same way that Chicago — birthplace of the 'skyscraper'- built the Sears Tower to beat New York City’s illfated Twin Towers, not long after they were completed in 1972. But the Elysian concept was far too "metropolitan" for the size of Cork, sadly. In the 2016 Census, Cork city - admittedly within its constrained boundaries - recorded a population of 125,657, well short of the EU's definition of cities as urban areas inhabited by 200,000 or more people. It has yet to achieve the critical mass to be a truly successful European city, and needed a much clearer preference for development in Project Ireland 2040, the new National Planning Framework. The good news is that the city's boundaries are to be significantly extended to incorporate most, if not all, of the urban area, boosting its population by 100,000 to more than 225,000. This makes a lot more sense than earlier highly-contentious proposals that the city should be "merged" with the county, in the way that Limerick and Waterford were in recent years - absorbed, in effect, by their rural hinterlands.

What Cork needs is more people, with good jobs and money to spend. Otherwise, there is not much chance of developing the city's redundant docklands or brownfield sites such as Horgan’s Quay, with its blank stone wall nearly a kilometre long, in the heart of the city, right beside Kent Station - terminus for mainline and suburban services -which urgently needs to be broken up by new streets and squares. Way back in 1968, a Governmentcommissioned report on regional development - prepared by town planner Colin Buchanan proposed designating both Cork and Limerick/ Shannon as ‘national growth centres,’ to counterbalance the development of Dublin. But a ferocious backlash from rural Ireland prompted ministers to adopt a laissez faire approach that unwittingly put most of the eggs in Dublin's basket. In its cowardly decision on the Buchanan report, taken in 1972, the Government allowed that the capital would continue on growing with no real limits. The Taoiseach at the time was Jack Lynch, who grew up on the north side of Cork city and played Gaelic hurling for the county, yet he went along with this political climbdown; the short road tunnel under the River Lee, opened in 1999, was named after him. Apart from the development of pharmaceutical plants around Cork Harbour - including Pfizer, which manufactures Viagra there - no real preference was shown for Cork by successive governments. Certainly, the 2002 National Spatial Strategy did no favours for the city by designating it as merely one of nine development "gateways", with a further nine "hubs" - there was to be something for everyone, in effect. 65


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But the NSS was also a failure: Dublin continued to grow, at the expense of everywhere else, including Cork. Although the city has been earmarked under the new National Planning Framework as a major growth centre, there are underlying fears within government that any serious effort to give it critical mass could damage Dublin, undoubtedly Ireland's strongest player for inward investment. Yet Dublin exhibits serious problems of congestion due to the concentration of economic activity there. Setting a goal of doubling Cork's population, backed up by tax incentives and other inducements to promote its development, would not only be good for the city itself, but would also help to relieve the overwhelming pressure on Dublin as a result of previous failures to chart a more balanced growth pathway. Cork’s own submission on the NPF, made jointly by its city and county councils, optimistically projected that the metropolitan area could have a population “in excess of 500,000” by midcentury. To achieve this ambitious goal, it sought to have Cork designated as a “complementary location” to Dublin and the “primary driver” of economic and population growth in the Southern Region. Much of its focus is on redeveloping extensive brownfield areas in Cork Docks and Tivoli and other sites along a higher density east-west public transport corridor that would be served 66

by bus rapid transit (BRT) or a Luas-type light rail line, as in the Danish city of Aarhus or in Scotland’s capital Edinburgh - against which Cork has “benchmarked” itself, as both of them were seen as useful “comparators”. In 2017, the Port of Cork engaged the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland to undertake a design review of the Tivoli area, where more than 62 hectares of industrial land at a pivotal location on the River Lee “offers a truly exciting opportunity to re-imagine it as a first-class 21st century living and working quarter and amenity for Cork,” capitalising on Tivoli’s south-facing waterfront close to the city centre. “This was a great idea to look at the huge Tivoli site and come up with a strategy of how they can have a new urban quarter with 3,000 new homes and tourist/local facilities as part of the city,” said London-based architect Angela Brady, who was one of the participants. “What it shows is that if you get a good bunch of creative people together they can re-imagine areas. I’d get them doing the whole city!” All cities are engines of economic development for their regions, not the other way around. If Cork comes anywhere near achieving the goal of having half-a-million people living, working or studying in its metropolitan area, the Elysian tower might then become the symbol of a reenergised city, rather than a monument to the folly of a construction-driven property boom that left Ireland with a mountain of debt.


photo: Pure 67 Cork


The Cork Papers

Tivoli A New Perspective – A Vision for 21st Century Living By Dr Sandra O’Connell

Imagine strolling along a south-facing waterfront promenade with stunning views across to Cork’s historic Blackrock Castle, passing bustling restaurants and cafés – all within an easy distance of Cork city centre. Vibrant cultural venues have become a destination for the people of Cork and further afield. Well designed homes, offices, shops and educational spaces are arranged in a series of urban villages surrounded by an attractive landscape. The community of 3,000 residents – from young people to families and senior citizens – have a choice of accommodation, ranging from public to private and from threestorey townhouses to apartment buildings; all with great views over green spaces or new water canals. Sustainability is central to the overall design, including the use of renewable energy and onsite waste recycling. Car use is kept to a minimum, giving pedestrian and cycling priority. A tall crane serves as a reminder of the location’s past, as a busy port where once commercial ships offloaded their cargo from around the world. Tivoli could be Cork’s new urban quarter. Currently in light industrial use, the 62-hectare site has been re-imagined by six architects – Angela Brady, Michelle Fagan, David Flannery, Andrew Griffin, John McLaughlin and John O’Mahony – through an RIAI Design Review 68

for the Port of Cork Company. Their common vision is for a vibrant 21st Century living and working quarter and as an amenity space for the people of Cork. Tivoli occupies a special geographical position between city and countryside. Nestled below the scenic Montenotte ridge, it is located just 4kms from Cork city centre and within easy reach of the Docklands. Its south facing waterfront setting in Cork harbour offers huge potential for marine related leisure activities. Tivoli can easily be connected to Cork city and county by road, rail, cycle and walking. Future residents might even be able to avail of a river bus, connecting Tivoli with the Cork Docklands. Design Review Objectives As a champion for quality and sustainability in the built environment, the RIAI has run architectural competitions for over 20 years for both public and private clients. In more recent years and with support from the Government Policy in Architecture, the RIAI developed the Design Review methodology to assist clients in the formulation of a vision for sites of special regional and national importance. Design Reviews to date have included the Diageo site in Kilkenny city, the former military barracks in Castlebar and the urban realm in Phibsborough, Dublin.


Sandra O’Connell

Proposals by Andrew Griffin

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Proposals by O’Mahony Pike 70


Sandra O’Connell

The objective of the Design Reviews is to provide expert impartial advice to clients on the development potential of a site. The primary benefit of this process is that it is independent and non-directional. None of the architects who participate on a RIAI Design Review panel have a commercial interest in the site and the resultant advice and development ambitions for the project are open and far-reaching. The Port of Cork Company (POCC) is a commercial semi-state company with responsibility for providing high quality, competitively priced port infrastructure and services. The POCC’s planned relocation of port operations from Tivoli and the Cork City Docks to alternative port locations in the Lower Cork Harbour provides a unique opportunity to create a new living and working quarter at Tivoli and a destination for the people of Cork city and county. At the outset, POCC and the RIAI identified four key objectives for the Design Review, to;• inform both local and national Planning Policy in order to achieve coherence and complement the development of the city centre and docklands expansion. • raise and maintain the profile of the Tivoli site among key stakeholders and identify key advantages of the site with stakeholders. • identify local and national need – such as housing infrastructure to meet demand from demographics and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). • identify influencing factors, ‘game changers’ and dependencies in terms of capacity and constraints and the need for funding support.

The Design Review Process To deliver on these objectives, the RIAI and Port of Cork invited an expert Design Review panel of architects who provided fresh thinking, strategic recommendations and national and international best-practice models for waterfront redevelopment. The contributing MRIAI architects were; Angela Brady OBE, Director in Brady Mallalieu Architects; Michelle Fagan, Director in FKL Architects; David Flannery, Director in Scott Tallon Walker Architects; Andrew Griffin, Director Urban Agency Architects; John McLaughlin, Director John McLaughlin Architects; and John O’Mahony, Director OMP Architects. The process also benefitted from a highly experienced and knowledgeable Chair, John Martin, previously Principle Planning Adviser in the former Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. The Rapporteur was Ciaran Brady an architectural graduate from the Cork Centre for Architectural Education (CCAE). The Design Review process was delivered over three stages and over a time period of three to four months, including a final report. Findings were presented to a stakeholder group including the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF). Stage 1 involved a full day briefing session of the Design Review Panel architects by the POCC and stakeholders, as well as a site visit of Tivoli by boat and coach to experience the site from sea and land. Stakeholders included representatives from Cork City and Cork County Council, the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), the IDA as well as planning and property experts. 71


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Proposals by Brady Mallalieu Architects

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In Stage 2, following a Design Review Panel workshop to discuss their individual proposals for the Tivoli site, the six architects presented their findings to the POCC and stakeholder group, who also included Transport Infrastructure Ireland in Stage 2. For Stage 3 the RIAI produced a final report Tivoli – A New Perspective, incorporating feedback from the POCC and stakeholders on the individual presentations. The report is accompanied by a large Appendix, which features in full all six presentations by the architects. Tivoli – A New Perspective The RIAI Design Review produced a holistic vision statement for Tivoli, which was drawn from individual architectural expertise in areas such as public and private housing, sustainable development, docklands and waterside redevelopment, and the creation of cultural and educational infrastructure and public amenity space. The process demonstrates the importance of engaging architects at the outset of a project to understand a sites full development potential. The Design Review Panel concluded that the Tivoli site could accommodate a minimum of 3,000 new homes overlooking the River Lee and green space, providing homes for young

workers, families and retirees. The scale of the site will also accommodate a variety of other compatible uses – including employment, education, social and cultural. Sustainability will be central to the overall design, including the use of renewable energy, waste recycling, flood protection and urban drainage. Particular quality will be taken to maintain water quality of the River Lee and to protect the natural habitat to the east of the site. The River Lee will also provide a great opportunity for marine related sport and leisure activities. One of Tivoli’s key attributes is its location in an area of natural beauty and its great connectivity to the Cork city and the wider Cork area. Tivoli is an exceptional site and of strategic planning important at national, metropolitan and city levels. The creation of Tivoli as a world class living quarter forms part of Cork 2050, a joint submission by Cork County Council and Cork City Council to the National Planning Framework and of the Cork City Development Plan 2015-2021. The project will be delivered in a phased development. The new urban quarter Tivoli will contribute significantly to Cork’s growth over the next 20-30 years. www.portofcork.ie

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Proposals by FKL Architects

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Tivoli Docklands – Cork –Masterplan Strategy

Proposals by Scott Tallon Walker Architects

Proposals by John McLaughlin Architects

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The Cork Papers

Life After Design: Predicting and Prompting the Social Life of Spaces By Andrew Carr

‘It was a moment of tremendous anxiety as the oiler en route rattled, swayed, tipped, and bounced into the sea, half submerged, to then raise and lift itself and find its balance… The ship went through a transformation from an enormous obdurate weight to a buoyant structure, free, afloat and adrift.’ This childhood recollection of artist Richard Serra describes the launch of a newly made ship into the sea. Following the energy and attention of designers, constructors and commissioners, beyond the makers yard the ship must float unaccompanied. A similar moment occurs at the handover of a project which brings an end to years of thinking, predicting, designing, amending, visualising, documenting, approving, procuring, ordering, fabricating, constructing and snagging. Only then, once scaffolds and protection have been removed, can the building, masterplan or space ‘find its balance’ and accommodate the life it was intended to serve. Architecture and urban design is a slow art. It can take years to realise a project and test its success. Unlike other, so-called, ‘arts of time’ such as poetry and music, which can be tested and refined as they are composed and performed, architecture relies upon anticipation 76

and cannot easily be corrected. Whilst the poet and musician control what happens within the timespan of a recital, the architect has no such control, handing over a project to an uncertain future. How can an architect or urban designer respond to this uncertainty? Perhaps the simplest design approach to this problem is to attempt to predict the future of a space and design to meet this prediction. If the prediction proves correct then it is likely that the project will be successful. But if the imposed prediction proves to be incorrect, perhaps uses envisaged do not materialise, standards shift or people respond in unexpected ways, then the success and life of the place is in jeopardy. What interests us as architects is how to engage people with places, such that they develop a life of their own, beyond prediction. Jan Gehl’s Life Between Buildings was published in Danish in 1971 (and in English in 1987) and in Gehl’s words was a response to the ‘shortcomings of the functionalist architecture and city planning that dominated the period’. His approach places emphasis on how people might positively use space and the spatial properties of the environment they occupy which encourage and support them in doing so. He defines three types of activity that might take place outside:


Andrew Carr

Flood defences designed with people in mind

necessary activities (functional, compulsory tasks), optional activities (choosing to go for a walk or sitting somewhere) and social activities which he cites as often arising from the first two categories: ‘Social activities are all activities that depend on the presence of others in public spaces. Social activities include children at play, greetings and conversations, communal activities of various kinds, and finally - as the most widespread social activity - passive contacts, that is, simply seeing and hearing other people.’ By designing into a project the potential for social connections and activities the inhabitation of a project starts to generate its own life, beyond prediction. Casual social contact and activity is encouraged through more open, less specific, structures that are capable of reinterpretation in order to serve changing needs and unknown future narratives. At the same time known uses might be specifically designed into the proposals to meet predicted needs, balancing what is open and closed. At Brady Mallalieu Architects we have developed this thinking in a series of inhabited lobby projects such as the Brickworks community centre in London. As well as providing circulation space the central lobby space is designed to have an identity

in its own right and host both casual use and organised events. A perimeter structure of openings, balconies and staircases create spatial and visual connections to the surrounding programmed spaces. The potential for several known scenarios that are likely to occur has been designed into these relationships to help activate the space. It has the qualities of a public space, but undercover and primed to nurture a social life amongst its occupants. At a larger scale our entry for the international Morrison’s Island competition in Cork transformed engineering infrastructure, to protect against flooding, into a ‘cultured infrastructure’ to help foster social engagement with the quayside. Such an approach would help safeguard the historic fabric of the existing quayside and contribute to the cultural richness of the city. A varied edge structure combined engineering requirements, to prevent flooding, with spatial devices that have the potential to host and prompt use and inhabitation; a low, wide wall becomes a place to sit; a portal marks an overlooked alleyway encouraging footfall; a wide platform becomes a stage for a busker; a high platform a market stall or a table for a picnic; a wall encourages exhibition space and play and misuse is encouraged! 77


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VIEW SHOWING EVENT BRIDGE Brady Mallalieu’s

bridge design of ‘Cultural Infrastructure’ as part of Morrison’s Island Competition

Infrastructure, Morrison’s Island Competition, Cork. Ireland.

cinema

exhibition

performance

market

festival venue

route

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s

Andrew Carr

This thinking, combining immediate and obvious needs with more open social prompts, was also used to inform the design of a new active footbridge. Rather than simply handling this as the quickest route from A to B, it was widened to become a space in its own right, capable of being used and reinterpreted in a variety of ways; as a gathering place; an exhibition space; a market; a cinema; a music and festival venue; a place for public performance by the students of the nearby School of Music; a place to buy coffee from the back of a tricycle or a deregulated busking zone for street theatre and impromptu happenings. A great venue for the sociable festive city of Cork. Deployed at a still larger scale our RIAI Design Review speculative proposals for Tivoli Docks combine the specific with the open, attempting to meet both our present and future design needs, allowing individuals and communities to foster the social life of the area. The dock area is organised into six neighbourhoods facing the water that are defined by landscape bunds. The bunds act as buffers to noise and pollution from the nearby road and railway line, conceal car parking and gather together the environmental infrastructure of the project including water management, energy distribution and waste and recycling facilities. Development within each bunded area shifts from an urban, dense structure to more dispersed and informal patterns of development that intertwine with nature, tides and habitats.

This gradation from dense to loose grain provides a starting point for the new life of the docks which will undoubtedly change as new needs emerge and a group of individuals and communities inhabit this former industrial land. As needs change the grain provides an indeterminate gradient within which new uses and improvisations can be located, reassuringly framed by the continuity of the more permanent pattern of bunded neighbourhoods. At a more detailed level the more intimate considerations of the Brickworks and Morrison’s Quay projects would be applied to Tivoli’s streets, squares and façades to imbue prompts and the potential for social connections into built fabric of the area. We hope that this combination of urban structures to meet evolving economic needs and environmental infrastructure to support a circular metabolism will help to deliver a holistic approach to sustainability which also engages with the social. In all of these examples anticipated needs are accommodated but potential is also designed into each project to foster social life. This approach is relevant to all sites and scales of projects, whether a city, square, street, building or item of furniture. Designing positive social connections into each threshold, edge, window, door and room will ensure that the new places of Cork are ‘buoyant structures, free, afloat and adrift…’ developing a healthy, self sustaining, life of their own. 79


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Coastal Flood Resilience Delivering thriving waterfront cities By Walter Menteth

Resilient design is now needed for coastal cities and settlements under threat from inundation by climate change induced rises in sea levels. Overall up to 216 million people globally live on land at risk of being submerged, or at regular flood levels by the end of this century, but the figure may be as large as 650 million and many live within cities. In Europe the risk of inundation to exposed coastal cities is particularly high around the North Sea, the English Channel and the Atlantic, with the Netherlands and UK particularly exposed. To address sea level rises caused by climate change, effective commissioning, more design innovation and collaboration with greater public engagement is needed to ensure solutions deliver valued and affordable quality, for robust long term resilience. From scientific observations, coastal defence design is developed from researched scenarios that then extend to inform policy and the resources allocated to them. From the predicted climate change scenarios, the risks, impacts and cost benefits are being calculated, but historically the predicted risks have proven to be conservative in the face of accelerating 80

climate change and many future impacts remain uncertain. Design research, capacity and processes for tackling these issues also appear lagging. In urbanised areas solutions need to address specific social, environmental, economic, historic cultural and contextual influences. More specific responses are also particularly needed on city waterfronts due for example, to population density, the intensity of built form, scale and massing, transportation and amenities. Coastal resilience design also needs to be robust, flexible, sustainable and affordable over a long term. Coastal management solutions are most often based on policy, knowledge and engineering precedents that predate climate change impacts. For centuries its been common to manage natural coastal dynamics by ‘hard engineering’, adopting an approach known as ‘holding the line’. As a result because development has been favoured in areas which would otherwise be flood prone, large numbers of people now live in areas becoming increasingly perilous. Yet traditional hard engineering designs, as epitomised by masonry sea walls, are still being frequently implemented.


Walter Menteth

Portsmouth from the south showing in context the approximate extent of the Southsea frontage area outlined in yellow.

Other strategies can allow coasts to evolve more flexibly and dynamically, and deliver better outcomes overall. These include managed realignment, which is the planned realignment of coastal defences. This includes setting back defences, retreating, or shortening the line of the defence and thus reducing the exposure of the length of coast to be maintained. These are frequently constructed using ‘soft engineering’ techniques that work with natural processes. Soft engineering also covers beach nourishment and dune replenishment. There is now growing popular support for managed re-alignment. Where designs are being promoted by public authorities that hold the line, a shift in attitudes can be found where the public have become engaged because of significant environmental, economic and cultural concerns.

The cities of Cork and Portsmouth are two recent examples. Portsmouth has a population of 205,000 and is an island city located in the Solent archipelago on England’s south coast. Although essentially a design strategy, ‘holding the line’ was adopted by the city council in 2012 as strategic policy for implementing coastal defences. Strategic area policy was further embedded in a masterplan for the city’s historic 4.5km long Southsea frontage that is backed by an extensive common. The common is up to 0.5km wide and extends back from the sea front along most of the frontage and is interspersed with monuments and amenities. The masterplan illustrated hard sea walls holding the line and prioritised vehicles over potential amenity, providing further constraints prior to consideration of the sea defences. 81


The Cork Papers

Proposals for Southsea frontage that are ‘hard engineered’ to ‘hold the line’, or alternatively uses ‘managed coastal re-alignment’ with ‘soft engineering’. (Walter Menteth & Alex Paul)

In 2014 proposals for the sea defence designs went out to public consultation, but these offered only limited choice for holding the line, with three similar hard engineering variants. From this 378 mixed questionnaire responses were received. In 2016 subsequent designs were then exhibited with images cut, copied and pasted from the recently completed coastal defences at Cleveley - on the UK’s North West coast, undertaken by the same contractor also appointed that year to lead Portsmouth’s design team. The hard engineering proposal consisted of stepped concrete revetments built on the city beaches with sheer walls on their land side rising up to 3.8m high, with stair access to an elevated 82

promenade. With roughly 12% of the city economy derived from tourism, this separation of the city from its waterfront with the loss of access and amenity was a major concern. A design research programme - the Portsmouth Elephant Cage, was instigated in 2016 following public concerns with the city authorities’ strategy. This brought together by open competition seventeen young British and Dutch experts in architecture, landscape, engineering and planning to work collaboratively in three teams on design research to investigate the Southsea frontage. These teams were mentored by seven eminent international cross disciplinary practitioners and supported by Masters students from Portsmouth School


Walter Menteth

Alternative landscape strategy. Parking is underground backing the new dyke. (Walter Menteth)

of Architecture. The programme aimed to investigate the city’s sea defences and more widely advance design knowledge, build capacity and cross disciplinary expertise. Three polemical designs were developed, then publicly presented and the findings published. Subsequently an alternative design strategy was produced. In response to context this comprised a mix of soft and hard engineering, with managed realignment. Level access to the beach is maintained, with leisure, recreation and commercial opportunities increased. Parking on the common is removed and integrated underground within the defence structure and potential is provided for phasing development. Future potential elevation of the flood

protection level is accounted for along with a fluvial flood strategy for adjacent inland areas. In 2017 this alternative proposal was published, exhibited, videoed and presented at various public meetings. The result of this public consultation means that now a large well organised local group the ‘Southsea Seafront Campaign’ is now seeking that the authorities’ reconsider soft engineering options. They have attracted 3,936 supporting petitioners and have, at least, temporarily forestalled the authorities’ scheme. Cork has also been in dispute with the OPW’s proposals for roughly 8km of concrete sea defence walls. The proposed alternative for managed realignment saves the historic city 83


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Montage of the authorities proposed new sea wall showing its impact along Southsea’s Clarence Esplanade, looking east. (Southsea Seafront Campaign)

centre by shortening the defence line with a barrage. The full impacts on the urban environment and economy of such walls, which in Portsmouth’s case rise to 3.8m high along the sea front, do not appear to be fully recognised by the authorities. What is apparent is there are major deficiencies constraining delivery of best socio-economic, environmental and cultural values which can only be achieved by appropriately well considered policy, process and contextual design. 84

Where remits, processes and programmes become closed, constrained or captured, design choices become limited and opportunity is lost. Lack of foresight, bureaucratic momentum and inability to engage iteratively through processes and procedures all impact on the best outcome. Many of these underlying issues are also emerging elsewhere. Yet to address rising sea levels there is a need to make the best of the enormous investment required and ensure we respond with sufficient foresight, maximising the opportunity as well as minimising the risks.


Walter Menteth

Alternative proposal identifies opportunities along the frontage including a lido. 85


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Cork – A Place By Valerie Mulvin

I have always loved working in Cork, to build there is to build in a magical place. Cork has the most beautiful relationship between geography and urbanity in the world- it is formed around water, and exists because of it and in spite of it. The city map itself is a contract with the sea, running from the Mardyke (meerdyke or sea dyke), to the city- its whole complex plan of streets, bridges and spaces made up of small grids on pre-existing channels and low islands, then on to the Harbour and the wider world. In Cork, the city extends well beyond the centre, it is about the river downstream and its small towns and villages, the river widening and narrowing until it explodes out into the majestic harbour with its big-boned modern facilities guarded by remarkable 18th and 19th century fortifications and stone beacons - a mix of entirely technological and completely ancient things, both protection and memorial. Much of the changing beauty and tension of the river is precisely about the battle between land and water, centuries of land being pushed out, with sections lined and infilled against constant erosion, the rubbing away, falling in and inundation that constantly changes the landscape.   The river Lee and the erosive action of water, were core to the ideas in the design of the Beaufort Maritime and Energy Research Laboratory. In Ireland we do not play on or 86

think enough or ask questions about the most extraordinary things around us, so making a facility for this purpose in a Cork setting on the river, made this an essential part of the exploration. This is also about the relationship between architecture and geography and in particular the very specific geography of Cork. The building, a national centre for maritime and wave energy research, was first a building about exploring sustainable issues made by a University dedicated to providing a lead in sustainable thinking. The Beaufort is located in Ringaskiddy on a mixture of newly formed land and original foreshore, a tall research block stacked to the sea and a large tank hall with testing facilities behind it, its plan form driven by the size and relationship of the four tanks, used alternately still or agitated, with paddle mechanisms and profiled floorplates to simulate wave action, coastal erosion, ocean floor modelling. This is a space beside wild water containing still water artificially manipulated by human action. The researchers sit in the ‘head’ of the building emerging from the landscape, high up in single and double-height rooms balanced between the natural sea and the artificial one. Ringaskiddy is built like a stone outcrop subject to the action of water, like a rock by the river,


map courtesy of Samuel Thornton

87 photos: Christian Richters


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its position adjacent to the harbour mouth makes it like a cliff wall on the waters edge, a monument to departing shipping and a form marked by the constant action of wind. The tank hall roof is geometrically resolved as a series of mathematically generated planes triangulated into different slopes, reflecting the Z-shaped swing of the trusses over the tanks, mapped onto the fixed points of the workshops. They present a frozen version of the artificial waves beneath. The overall form and surface are deeply indented, surface volumes of the research tower are eroded on north and east façades, analogous to the action of wind and water on driftwood, generating a series of indented planes on the elevation to the sea for windows and balconies. Apart from its essential function in exploring alternative energy sources, the building incorporates sustainable principles in construction and orientation, stacked shallow breathable plans in the research tower are countered by the large volume unheated tank hall, exposed concrete soffits provide thermal mass to assist passive cooling of laboratories and high performance glazing ensures generous levels of natural light. The large roof surface acts as a perfect rain water harvesting surface. These are embedded principles. On the wider level these Cork Papers are intended is to create a discussion on the future sustainability of our cities and Cork is the perfect focus. This city has character in 88

a way that other Irish cities have lost. It has memorable views and dense urban quarters, mixed typologies, interesting public buildings. It feels lived–in, big enough to get lost in, to have places to find, for specialisation to develop, yet small enough for sustainable initiatives about personal transport or pooling resources to make sense. Everywhere, its architecture and public space relate to the river and the hills. In all of the 21st century conversations about sustainability and new ideas about combating waste, maybe not enough attention is paid to one core aspect, the maintenance and use of a city’s particular fabric. In Cork, this varied tissue of old walls, materials, people, means of occupation, habits, internal and external rooms gives the city its identity, its specific gravity. It encodes its special history, its relationship to geography, its sense of place. As elsewhere in Ireland and Europe, this fabric and use is under stress, there are economic pressures and increasingly, the weight of unmediated regulation excluding options for integrated urban lives. In Ireland much time is expended trying to define new answers to problems, skating brightly over the surface because the old issues are too difficult to solve. Core sustainability should include more support for those working to find integrated ways of conserving and finding appropriate uses for the full extent of the historic fabric, eg; networks of city quarters - not selected Protected Structures, as well as ways to make the great new architecture that such vigorous communities would require, appropriately, with judgement and sanity, looking after the ordinary as well as the special.


Valerie Mulvin

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Cork – The Rebel City By Marie C Donnelly

Cork city is the second city in Ireland, although almost ten times smaller than Dublin. It is a university city with a total student population in excess of 25,000, with a number of world class research centres for example IERC, IMERC, Tyndal and NIMBUS. Cork has an international airport and a thriving port - soon to be further developed. Cork and its people A snapshot from the 2016 census shows the average age in Cork city is 39.1 years compared to 37.9 in Dublin. There are 48,000 households in the city, with on average 2.4 people per household. Overall, detached houses are the most common dwellings 44.5% of all households, although terraced houses are typical in the city 37.1%. The development of Cork city since the last city boundary change in 1965 is a perfect characterisation of the phenomenon of suburban sprawl, with population growth happening away from the central urban area in low density, monofunctional and nearly always car dependent suburban communities. The population of the city has remained stagnant whilst the population in the county has followed the national trend and doubled, but most of this population growth has been in the nearby suburbs such as, Glanmire, Bishopstown, Ballincollig and Rochestown. 90

Looking to the future Recent developments however open up an exciting prospect for the growth and development of Cork city. The recently launched ‘Project Ireland 2040: National Planning Framework’ and the National Development Plan supports Cork in a number of ways;• the targeting of Cork as one of five cities for high population growth; • statutorily backed Metropolitan Area Strategic Plan for Cork; • nationally 30,000 to 35,000 new homes per annum up to 2027, with 15,000 new homes in Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford by 2020, most of which are to be built in the existing urban areas. • improving sustainability in terms of energy, waste management and efficiency use of resources such as district heating and water conservation.


Marie C Donnelly

• a shift from predominantly fossil fuels to predominantly renewable energy sources. Increasing efficiency and upgrades to appliances, buildings and systems. Deployment of new technologies relating to areas such as wind, smartgrids, electric vehicles, buildings, ocean energy and bio energy. A combination of Project Ireland 2040 and the extension of the Cork city boundary, mean that Cork now has the potential to become the fastest growing city in Ireland with the population of the city potentially trebling to two or three times the national rate by 2040. Housing this growing population could involve building upwards, so the skyline of Cork may change dramatically over the next 20 years with buildings such as the 17-storey Elysian Tower becoming commonplace. This will need to be achieved by utilising the existing urban areas by building on brownfield sites to achieve compact growth and greater population density. The challenges remain high - revitalising the city centre as a desirable residential location, reducing high levels of car use, location of employment centres and from the energy perspective, the reduction of energy demand and increasing the sustainability of the residual energy used, need to be tackled in a holistic way.

increased by only 33%, compared to 100% in the county. In excess of 50,000 homes will be needed to accommodate the projected increase in population. Secondly, to effectively address the challenge of a growing population, Cork needs to build inwards and upwards, rather than outwards. This means that apartments must become a more ‘normal’ form of housing. Ireland and especially Cork lags behind EU with apartments currently making up 12% of all occupied households in Ireland and 35% of occupied households in the Dublin City Council area, compared to 40%-60% of households living in apartments in many European countries. Cork is particularly well placed to respond to this development challenge through the opportunities offered by the redevelopment of its Docklands, a 220-hectare brownfield development in the north and south docks. This has the potential to provide 10,000 homes. Most of the housing in the City Docks will need to be high density apartments that make efficient use of land and support a mass transit system. The Tivoli Docks is 62 hectares with 3km

Home sweet home Delivering new homes within the city will require a reversal of the historic trend: The first change required is a significant investment in new homes within the city. Since 1991 the number of new homes in the city has 91


The Cork Papers

of river frontage, including the Port of Cork Millennium 2000 Park. Thirdly, Cork needs to reduce its carbon footprint, especially in relation to transport and housing. Although the city is well served with a gas grid, the county is very dependent on heating oil, with consequent emissions. It is not however only about providing new homes. The existing housing stock follows the national trend with more than 60% of homes built before 2000. As a consequence, the energy performance of these units is below par and an extensive retrofit is required for these properties. The challenge here is to mobilise private owners as well as social housing managers - who own 20% of homes- to adopt an ambitious energy saving renovation objective - say 4% of homes per year. This will require the mobilisation of communities, NGO’s, businesses as well as local authorities in order to transform Cork into a low carbon, energy efficient and resilient city. Sustainable energy Energy is the largest contributor to emissions globally and cities already account for 75% of energy consumption worldwide and 70% of CO2 emissions. As we progress in the energy transition, most smart green cities will evolve from those that already exist. Their transformation requires a stepped approach in the built environment and societal structures that already exist. 92

Cork’s energy resources include proven near exhausted supply of natural gas (the Kinsale field is almost depleted), hydroelectric (Carrigadrohid and Inniscarra), onshore wind, biomass, geothermal and solar energy. In addition, exploitable resources of waves, tidal and off shore wind energy are available in the region. As an intrinsic part of its development, Cork needs to set out its own goal for emission reduction and sustainable energy. The question is –how will it compare to other cities such as;• San Francisco:100% renewable electricity by 2020 • Munich: 100% renewable electricity by 2025 • Copenhagen: Carbon neutral by 2025 • Cork? Conclusion The future could be bright for a dynamic growing city. Building on its natural attributes, Cork can now embark on the journey to become a smart green and sustainable city and a place where everybody wants to live.


5 Marie C Donnelly

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New city boundaries 2018. Courtesy of Cork City Co

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The Power of the Sea By Claire Lambe

Atlantic Marine Energy Test Site (AMETS) off the coast of Belmullet. images: ŠArup

Cork has a breathtaking, rugged coastline that stretches over 470km dotted with numerous beautiful harbour towns. Cork has always had a strong connection with the sea and is steeped in a rich maritime history. The first Vikings arrived in their longboats and settled in Cork Harbour, European traders brought prosperity to Cork through trading wine and spices in exchange for Cork’s specialities of textiles, butter and whiskey, the history of the wartime sinking of the Lusitania off the Cork coast and the last stop of the Titanic at Cobh before its tragic sinking. Many fishermen, sailors, boat builders and traders have long made a living out of the 94

Atlantic coastline and still do today. The Atlantic has provided food, trade routes, leisure and sport. But, there is a resource we have yet to harness from this ocean which could bring with it economic growth, employment, abundant energy supply and a cleaner environment. This resource is the power of the sea. The evolving energy industry We are not yet exploiting the ocean and seas to meet our energy needs. Just 50kms from the beautiful Cork coast lies the Kinsale natural gas fields. This non-renewable resource has been exploited for nearly 40 years and has just a


95 photo: Arup


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few years of natural gas remaining. The sea also provides ample cooling to a number of power stations and industries around Cork Harbour. In the harbour you will find Whitegate and Aghada power stations providing electricity through their gas fired turbines. Whitegate is also the location of Ireland’s only oil refinery producing 40% of the country’s transport and heating oil. Yet, for a number of reasons, the energy industry in Cork is likely to see big changes. The market in which we trade power will be fully integrated into the EU power market in 2018. Now, our fossil power plants will have to compete with cheaper renewable energy generators with the ability to generate at zero cost. These changes in the industry are already becoming apparent in Cork. The ESB recently announced part closure of one of its less efficient power plants in Aghada after being out bid in the latest capacity auction. The Cork Marina power plant will also look to close in the coming years, unable to compete against more efficient and cheaper energy producers. Ervia are investigating the possibility of the using the retired Kinsale gas fields for the storage of the unwanted carbon from the gas fired power stations in Cork harbour. Furthermore, with the push from EU and industry to electrify our heating and transport sectors, the requirement for the oil refinery in Whitegate may come into question in the future. The energy market is evolving, yet with planning and foresight Cork is well positioned to ride the wave of the 21st century energy revolution. The power available in the ocean and seas surrounding Ireland has massive potential to 96

meet the energy needs of Ireland and beyond. Ireland’s sea area is ten times greater than the land area of the island. In addition consider the location of this island. We have uninterrupted natural forces the length of the Atlantic Ocean landing on our shores. This energy comes in three forms: offshore wind, waves and tides. Each of these has a part to play in our energy mix if we are to harness the full potential of marine energy. The power is available, free and clean. The next step is to harness it. There are a number of challenges to overcome, but none are insurmountable and progress is being made. Technical challenges The first challenge to overcome is to build the technology to withstand the harsh conditions off the Irish coastline. The energy converter, be it wind, wave or tidal, will need to survive the constant bombardment of waves and high winds, including storm waves of over 10 metres high. These energy converters will need to be secured or anchored to the seabed and connected to power cables which will run to the shore. They will most likely have both mechanical and electrical parts operating in saline conditions, known not to be the most harmonious of partnerships. Finally, they must have a long life span and low maintenance as any need for repair works would be costly. Although this may seem like an extremely difficult task, when we look at the depths and conditions in which we have drilled for gas and oil, there are few challenges engineering cannot overcome if the will and resources are available or when the reward for success is great. These technical challenges have not deterred the many innovators and engineers currently developing


OpenHyrdro 16m Tidal Turbine for deployment in Paimpol-BrÊhat, France. (Š OpenHydro Tidal Technology)

marine renewable energy converters, with a number of Cork based developers;- Ocean Energy and DP Energy to name two. Public support The second challenge of marine energy involves ensuring stakeholder engagement and attaining public support. One of the biggest barriers to onshore wind energy in Ireland over the last two decades has been public objection to wind turbines being installed near communities and disrupting the landscape. Of course, any infrastructure as large as a wind turbine, whether onshore or offshore, needs to be sensitive to its surroundings and environment. Yet, with better engagement and involvement of communities in the development of renewable energy infrastructure, the support for such infrastructure will increase. Marine technology won’t be as invasive of the landscape as onshore

wind but it will incur other planning hurdles. There will be implications for port infrastructure and grid connections. They will incur challenges in location, so as not to disrupt shipping lanes, fishing or marine sport and leisure activities. In some cases, marine renewables will be visible from the shore line. All stakeholders and community representatives need to be involved in the decision making process when we move to deploy them as marine renewable energy will need support from the Irish public. Furthermore, the public need to better understand the relationship of power used in our own homes and the power plant or wind turbine generating that power. Communities will need to feel a sense of pride and even ownership of our marine renewable energy industry, moving away from being just passive consumers of energy to active citizens, ensuring our energy comes from clean sources. 97


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photo: Christian Richters

Supporting infrastructure The final challenge for the marine renewable industry is to provide the supporting infrastructure. Cork is already making strides in this area and has developed a maritime energy and research cluster in the harbour location of Ringaskiddy. In 2015, Marine and Renewable Energy Ireland (MaREI), with support from EU funding, SEAI and Science Foundation Ireland, opened a state of the art marine research facility, the Beaufort Centre, in Ringaskiddy. The centre is home to the MaREI headquarters and Lir National Ocean Test Facility and is located next door to the National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI), making Cork a world-class hub of marine renewables and offshore research and training. The Lir National Ocean Test Facility includes four large scale testing tanks, electrical and mechanical workshops and testing rigs. Along with this indoor test facility, Ireland has developed sea-based testing facilities. 98

The Smart Test Bed in Galway Bay provides relatively calm conditions for the testing of devices at one quarter scale. Furthermore, plans are in place to build a full scale test site 16km out from Belmullet, Co. Mayo. The AMETS Atlantic Marine Energy Test Site is ready for construction, having completed all stages of planning and design. If given the go ahead for construction, AMETS will provide some of the most challenging conditions for testing in the world. Although few devices are currently ready for such challenging testing conditions, there will be a long lead in time for construction of the site. It is anticipated that by the time the test site is built, the demand from developers for such a testing facility will be there. This same logic needs to be applied to large infrastructure projects required for the development of the marine energy sector.


photo: Pure Cork

A recent study by engineering firm Gavin and Doherty Geosolutions investigated the infrastructure gap analysis for the marine energy industry. The report highlights the challenges faced in deploying large scale renewable energy such as offshore wind from Irish Ports and identifies Belfast as the most suitable location for renewable energy deployment, considering the constraints with respect to land area, high loading capacity and depth of water. Port of Cork has the potential to be a suitable site for marine energy deployment yet the Port needs to be developed now with the foresight for marine energy industry of the future. Along with the required infrastructure a strong supply chain for the industry needs to be incentivised. This supply chain can be supported by the existing expertise of Cork’s oil and gas, fishing and shipping industries, as engineering boating and mooring expertise will be required for the installation and maintenance of the marine energy devices.

Ireland needs to develop the infrastructure to be ready at the same time as the technology. If we are to have any chance of meeting our renewable energy targets, a complete step change will be required in the energy mix. With the long lead in times, this infrastructure needs to be developed now, as we won’t be able to meet our targets with land based renewables alone. We need to move into marine energy and start to use this vast resource. The Port of Cork could act as our doorway to this ocean resource. It will need public support as well as financial investment. This can be achieved if we engage all stakeholders, remain sensitive to our environment and recognise the urgency in which we need to develop our marine energy industry.

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Self-Help and Self-Building as Innovation in Housing By Jose Ospina

Housing is one of society’s most important resources, so it follows it should be a repository of our best and most insightful design, our most sustainable construction and our most empowering management structures. However, housing is more often perceived as one of society’s major problems, as failure of current policies and as a constant example of the shortcomings of modern technology. The reasons for this are evident in many sectors. Homelessness There are nearly 10,000 people registered as homeless in Ireland with a growing number of families living rough or in hotels and emergency accommodation, this figure includes nearly 4,000 children. In 2016 Cork’s Simon Community provided services to 737 homeless people and the numbers have continued to rise. Growing housing lists In 2017 85,799 households were on housing lists. In an effort to stem the growth of homelessness Councils, Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) and private property owners provided an additional 5,292 social homes in 2016, still not enough to reduce the overall numbers waiting for housing. 100

Growing long-term mortgage arrears In 2018, 70,488 households in Ireland were in mortgage arrears of over 2 months, with 52,866 in arrears for over 2 years. Although in 2011 courts began making it difficult for banks to secure eviction notices unless all other remedies had been tried, there are fears that this moratorium cannot go on indefinitely. The Central Bank has estimated that around 30,000 households are dependent on welfare payments and will not be able to restructure mortgages. They will very likely have to surrender or sell their property. The only option for this group that can prevent homelessness is the Mortgages to Rent initiative (MtR) where the property is sold to an AHB and the resident is able to remain in occupation as a social housing tenant, paying a council-equivalent rent. Although a potential game-changer, progressing the initiative has proved slow and cumbersome for those trying to implement it. Since it was set up in 2012 participating AHB’s, (including Carbery Housing Association, a small community-based housing association based in West Cork), have only managed to purchase 282 homes.


photos: Jose Ospina

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The delay is mainly due to the complexity of the conveyancing negotiations that are required for each property but it is clear that banks are looking for quicker alternatives to get defaulting properties off their books, such as selling properties to vulture funds. The search for innovative solutions A range of solutions, usually involving more public funding, more private sector investment or more rapid construction methods have been proposed and some are being piloted. However, one solution that we hear little about is the potential of organising households to help themselves, that is to be supported in providing their own housing. This model of community self-help has been successful in helping find solutions during housing crises in other countries notably in the UK. There, during the 70’s and 80’s, households in need were helped in forming housing associations and co-ops, social enterprises that would repair and develop housing for their members. This required the 102


Jose Ospina

setting up of a support framework, providing them with guidance and start-up resources, and facilitating access to empty properties to lease or purchase or repair and to build their homes. This body or movement proved a valuable ally to local authorities in maximizing the housing available and providing new homes. They also helped to empower residents and communities, giving them a sense of ownership of their homes, and they often developed complementary community facilities, training and employment initiatives. Self-Help Groups and Homelessness Beginning in north London in the 1970’s, a number of self-help housing associations were formed to use empty properties to house homeless people. They brought together homeless families to occupy empty homes awaiting redevelopment. Repairs were carried out by the residents themselves or by contractors. The properties were allocated and rented out to participating families at low rents.

The properties were managed and maintained and they used this rental income. In this way, they secured the use of hundreds of empty homes, and set an example for many other groups around the country. By the 1980’s self-help housing associations and Co-Ops were reported to be managing around 50,000 homes that would otherwise have been empty throughout the UK. Self-Build Association and Co-ops In pre-industrial times, most people built their own homes. With the development of capital based development models, contracting and purchase became the norm. Self-build has continued to have a role, particularly in less industrialised societies, where it remains the main source of housing. Walter Segal the pioneering architect of self-build talked about “the joy of building.”

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In the UK in the 1980’s there were three models for community self-build in operation: A. Self-Build for Ownership This aimed at individual ownership of homes. Groups of families under the guidance of a professional, formed a terminating self-build association. They secured loans using their joint incomes, and purchased land. They then designed and built with each family working on their own home. Building could take from one to two years. When the homes were completed the families would buy them using a private or Council mortgage at cost price. By doing this, a family would save around 40% on the commercial value of their home. B. Self-Build Shared Ownership A Registered Housing Association (AHB) would purchase the land and facilitate the selected families to design their future homes. Development would be funded in part by a housing grant of up to 75% of the cost. The land would be bought from the local council or on the open market. Once the homes were designed, the families would undertake the bulk of the construction work, contracting out works that they were not equipped to carry out. No further financial input was required. When the building was completed, the families were issued with 104

tenancy agreements for the homes, and paid a rent on the “unsold equity”, that is the part of the home owned by the AHB. They would also be issued a leasehold for value of the “sold equity”, which was calculated as the difference between the value of the property and the cost of building. This was usually around 25% of the total value of the property. This leasehold could be sold on to future residents if the family decided to leave or they could buy the entire freehold from the Housing Association at market value. C. Self-Build for Rent This model was aimed at providing high quality rented housing for families and single people on Council housing waiting lists. A registered secondary housing co-operative would host the project. The selected beneficiaries would be helped to form a self-build co-op. The


Jose Ospina

secondary would work with the group in acquiring land and selecting architects. The Co-op would enter into a works contract with the secondary, where the co-op agreed to build their homes for a fixed contract sum. They were then paid an advance on this contract to allow them to employ a professional contract manager. When completed, the homes would be handed back to the secondary, who allocate them to self-builders, issuing tenancy agreements with a reduced rent, taking into account the self-build contribution. Each self-builder would also be issued with an index-linked loan stock for the estimated value of their labour (around 25% of the contract sum). They could cash in this loan stock if they decided to leave the property. A management agreement would also be entered into with the co-op to manage and maintain the properties,

receiving a proportion of the rents for this purpose. Can these principles be applied in Cork? These are only a few examples of how beneficiary self-help and social enterprise has been successfully applied to helping meet housing needs. These approaches can be useful in helping tackle the housing problems of today, and new models can be developed based on similar principles, tested and replicated. There is generally a lack of such initiatives in Ireland, but as the need for innovative solutions increases, such initiatives are becoming more relevant. Cork city, as a centre for sustainable innovation, is in an ideal position to be one of the first to pioneer this approach. 105


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Long-Term Strategies for Energy Renovation of Buildings By Adrain Joyce

The European Union seems to many Irish people to be an interfering supra-state that brings only austerity and hardship. To me, it is the most advanced multi-state cooperation that has ever been seen and it has brought massive benefits to all of us through its policies and legislation. We complacently take for granted more than 70 years of inter-nation peace that has reigned across Europe (with the notable exceptions of the wars that followed the break-up of Yugoslavia and the more recent incursions into Ukraine by Russia) and the simplicity of transEuropean travel with barely any border controls and largely the same money. These are just a few of the great achievements that have arisen from the intense, all-party negotiations that the 28 Member States engage in through well-structured, transparent, lengthy processes in Brussels. The processes mean that all points of view can be aired, and all opinions taken into account. The objective in every case is to improve European society, the quality of life of citizens and conditions for doing business across the Union. Another feature of the European Union has been its capacity to change and evolve over 106

time and to cope with increased numbers of Member States and still move forward on the path to ensuring and safe guarding the leading role of the Union in the world. We are on the edge of seeing another evolution in the way that the European Union is structured as faith in the old systems of ruling elites collapses across our continent and across the world. But why do I start my article on Cork by talking of such matters? It’s because in December 2017 an agreement was made between the Member States and the European Parliament, on revising a very important Directive that will directly affect the quality of the buildings that make up every city, town, village and rural community across the European Union, including Cork. There are several revisions that have been agreed, but I will focus on just one – the strengthening of requirements for Member States to prepare long-term renovation strategies for the building stock of both public and private buildings across their entire territory. We in the EU spend, on average, 90% of our time indoors. We all live, work and play in buildings of varying quality and our homes


Adrian Joyce

represent the biggest and most important financial investment that we make in our lifetimes. In addition, our occupation of buildings means that they consume over 40% of all primary energy generated in the EU and emit nearly 40% of energy-related greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This is largely because our buildings are not energy efficient. It is a well-documented fact that more than 75% of all existing buildings in the EU were built before there were any energy-related building regulations in force. EU-wide research in 2017 indicated that only 3% of buildings are certified as being in the best class of energy efficiency under the various energy performance certification schemes currently in force. So, any measures that are targeted to improve the energy efficiency of buildings will, once the resulting works are carried out in a professional, holistic and high-quality way, lead to big

In Ireland 58% of all residential buildings were built before the introduction of building regulations, even though Ireland has one of the youngest residential building stocks in all of Europe improvements in our quality of life. Numerous studies have shown that properly executed energy renovation works bring multiple benefits to owners and occupiers, benefits that go well beyond the energy savings and reduced energy bill costs that are the most talked about benefit. The individual benefits that arise range from the increased household income due to lower bills to greater comfort and cosiness and from improved health and well-being to higher productivity and sense of worth. Many of these individual 107


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photos: Pure Cork

benefits cannot be directly measured in numeric terms, but we can feel them in our daily lives. Societal benefits that arise range from reduced air pollution, due to less combustion of fuels for heating and less energy poverty, to increased public budgets arising from job creation in the construction sector. Public budgets increase due to a reduction in healthcare costs, reduction in social welfare payments, reduction in fuel allowance payments, increased tax income from higher employment and purchases of products and materials used in energy renovation projects. Political benefits can also arise as citizens feel the benefits of good policies in their personal lives, they are more likely to give credit to the politicians that introduced those measures and to the institutions that initiated the laws and 108

regulations behind the measures. In the case of ambitious energy renovation programmes, this political credit must currently go to the European Institutions behind the revisions of the Buildings Directive. In the near future, there will be a golden opportunity for local politicians to step in and begin to take credit too. As the European Directive must be translated into national laws, there will be a time-lag before Ireland puts its long-term renovation strategy in place and when in place, there will be a strong reliance on regions and cities to put planned measures into force. Cork is no different to other Irish cities in that its buildings are heterogeneous in their typology, their year of construction and in their energy performance. A first step to know what can be done for Corkonians is to survey the existing


Adrian Joyce

building stock to get an accurate, detailed picture of the current state of affairs and to estimate the potential for energy savings and other improvements that is inevitably tied up in them. Following on from this, the preparation and implementation of renovation programmes, possibly starting with the worst performing segment or public buildings such as schools, must be undertaken in an ambitious timeframe. It is well known that with current technologies, materials and equipment it is possible to improve the energy performance of our buildings by a factor of four i.e. a reduction of 80% in energy use. Given that the building sector uses about 40% of all energy, this represents a reduction in overall energy use of about 32% - a huge amount. For Ireland and all of its cities, a huge boost to energy supply security and significant economic savings can be reaped as fuels do not have to be purchased. Looking to some examples from inside the EU where innovative approaches to the roll-out of energy renovation programmes are underway, we observe that in Scotland, a neighbourhood approach has been adopted whereby the part of a city or town that contains the highest proportion of worst performing buildings is renovated first. By taking this area-by-area

In the Netherlands, an industrialised approach to energy renovation of whole streets has been implemented whereby disruption to the buildings under renovation lasts for just one week and the buildings end up with zero energy bills approach, it is not just the buildings that were tackled, but also the public spaces in between the buildings and the mobility infrastructure. Whole communities then benefit, even if some in the community do not have their individual home or building renovated under the programme. To reap the benefits outlined here, it will be up to Corkonians, from the highest placed politicians and business people to the dynamic, hardworking population and community workers to get engaged in the transformation of the physical elements of the City, through energy renovation programmes that are in tune with the overall national strategy. It is a challenge, but it will be well worth the effort. 109


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Re-Inhabiting The Streets The crisis of the Irish Market Town. Loss of purpose and sense of place. By Giulia Vallone By Giulia Vallone A typical Irish market town consisted of a main road with two to three storey buildings, some pubs, churches, a post office and shops with retail on the ground floor and living accommodation over the shop and a town square where the animal market fair took place once per month. The town was the vibrant gathering centre of its economic hinterland. Since the advent of the car, the market function of main streets and squares has been eroded. Furthermore, national and regional road design priorities have been imposed on urban environments. This, together with the consequences of out of scale housing projects during the ‘Celtic Tiger’ era (1998-2008), have further eroded the identity of the traditional Irish Town. As a result, people no longer feel comfortable inhabiting the the townscapes. townscape. Local town centres are replaced by out of town retail shopping centres, with petrol station forecourts becoming the new gathering places, providing fast food and convenience retail. Towns today have become the triumph of road engineering design standards - over urban design principles. The associated clutter of car parking, road markings, signs, traffic lights, street lights, onerous lux levels and road signage, all destroy what was once a coherent streetscape. The result is a hollowing out of the town centre with first and second floors 110

National Gallery, Dublin

National Gallery, Dublin Bantry Square, West Cork, before and after the motor caradvent. motorcar advent.

becoming derelict, with empty dark windows, streets void of people and now surveyed by police CCTV cctv cameras. cameras. The The depopulation depopulation is accelerated by the recent economic recession, and the competitive employment opportunities of cities. The recent decision by our national government to abolish local Town Councils, as a national cost saving and political reform exercise, has exacerbated the problem.


photo: Giulia Valone Vallone

There used to be a tradition of meeting and “dancing at the crossroads” on New Year’s Eve and religious processions marched along the main street. Today the Mart Day animal fair in the main square is replaced with a single function public space - as a surface car park. How do Italians use public space? Multifunctional use of public space. In Italy the Town Square has the role of a multifunctional stage for the local community. Social activities such as religious events, food, sports and music take place in the streets making them vibrant places. In my home town in Sicily, ice cream stands and even octogenarians have been traditionally established as successful ‘traffic calmers’. Elderly people are integrated into public life in town centres, enabling inclusiveness and healthy communities.

Learning from Clonakilty. Reclaiming the streets. The Italian public space principle can be successfully applied to Irish towns and villages, like in the market town of Clonakilty, West Cork where an urban design masterplan based on community engagement has been applied and the car priority reversed into a ‘people come first policy’. Clonakilty 400 Masterplan was initiated in May 2013 by the former Town Council to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Clonakilty town charter. The aim of this project was to reestablish the public realm in Clonakilty. The objective was to make the local community aware of the heritage value of its townscape, including traditional shop front preservation, and by re-establishing social activities on the design planplan was was street. AAheritage heritageledledurban urban design 111


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photo: Dermot Sullivan

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formulated which focused on providing new ‘living rooms’ for civic and social events. The brief was to redevelop the town's historical public space, which had previously been dominated by car parking, empty buildings and blighted by antisocial behaviour. A contemporary public realm design layer was proposed for Asna and Emmet Squares, connected by an urban streetscape, as phase two of the masterplan. At Asna Square, a paved ellipse binds the environment with a strong geometric statement reminiscent of Neolithic ring forts and stone circles found in West Cork. This geometric pattern, omitting road marking and signage, establishes a shared surface to accommodate passing cars, café seating and informal gatherings around a new pocket park that ensures pedestrian priority. Further up the street, alterations to Emmet Square create a re-landscaped park, a new water feature, a newly commissioned bronze sculpture and the new Michael Collins House Museum. The design is based on the reduction of street clutter and the provision of ‘mini squares’ at strategic locations, improving the legibility of the street and providing public terraces furnished with street chairs and coffee tables, inviting people to stop and use the street in many creative ways. The initial challenge of loss of car parking from the main street resulted in a positive opportunity, also shared by the retailers, to properly address universal design, street furniture for the elderly and tree landscapes.

Safety, inclusiveness and place-making were crucial points to further establish pedestrian priority over the motor car and to give a sense of place. Night time passive surveillance and attractiveness was a particular concern and this objective became an important theme, resulting in a lighting solution that attracts a variety of patrons of the town to gather there in the evenings, thus discouraging antisocial gatherings. A concerted effort was made to engage the community throughout the design process and residents were consulted at each stage from the formulation of the brief to addressing concerns with the final design. Public engagement The development of a bottom up public participation led approach to the urban planning design process for public spaces, justifies the role of the Town Architect as a ‘community problem solver’. The Town Architect is uniquely placed to engage, harness and promote civic input, as well as to act as the standard bearer for the town’s built environment. This role allows us to preserve local architectural character through quality design, public participation in place making, promotion of visual awareness and by creating a stronger sense of ownership with positive outcomes of civic stewardship and economic development. There were a number of stages required to engage the public in their project. Firstly the aim was to identify and empower the expert citizen by gathering local knowledge and empowering the local community. 113


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photo: Giulia Vallone


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Then working together to form a brief of priorities from multiple sources and across various scales. Community leaders and expert citizens came forward to engage in the process and they became project champions. Next step was to develop a design analysis that generated an agreed vision, inspiring the town team and applying a new layer of quality contemporary design and spaces for public life, focusing on inclusive space. It was important to identify roles within the community for project ambassadors such as; the town manager, the politician, the tidy towns committee, the chambers of commerce and heritage groups, with the town foreman becoming the town custodian. An holistic design approach was then applied which drew on both national and local policies and their associated funding budgets, to deliver the one public space vision. It was also important to inspire people to care by creating and supporting the sharing economy, connecting stories of community collaboration to their places, honouring innovation and allowing space for experimentation which gives equal relevance to failure and success. The outcomes of the civic stewardship are free maintenance of the public space and inspiring tolerance and pride in the community. The success of public engagement from the early design stage is evident in the celebrations after

it was completed, which became an essential part of the design brief, including events like the Street Carnival, Christmas lights, Random Kind of Smile, Old Costumes Fair and much more. Monitoring the success If you walk down Pearse Street in Clonakilty, locals will stop you to tell you of their latest sporting team success, or their tidy town gold medals, inviting you to join them to sit on their new street furniture, which is designed for easy conversation. People you don’t know will greet you going down the new coloured main street with ‘mini squares’ and well preserved shop fronts, even if they have never met you before. Follow the music of hundreds of guitarists parading Main Street, as you are part of the International Guitar Festival; The Old Costumes fair, Random Act of Kindness and the Street Carnival. These are just a few of the many occasions when cars are temporarily banished from Main Street and the whole town centre becomes a place for public life and community enjoyment. Today the juxtaposition of the contemporary public realm layer and urban design with its surroundings is considered by all to be a successful intervention that is attracting new town patrons and private investment. Higher property prices confirm higher value and previously empty buildings are now occupied, delivering new urban vibrancy and a real sense of community. 115


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116 photo: Anna Croniecka


Giulia Vallone

photo: Dermot Sullivan Seating for conversation and relaxation

A design template for towns, villages and city neighbourhoods. Redevelopment of public realm in our town centres is a crucial tool to deliver liveable and vibrant places to attract people to work, live and visit. Reclaiming our streets for people instead of car domination is the secret of success in Clonakilty, based on smart use of public funding. It demonstrates that standard re-instatement works should never merely be an exact replacement of the existing, but rather an opportunity to rethink the street, to deliver better quality public realm for our towns and communities to reflect how we want to live today.

Clonakilty has been transformed from what began as a Civil Engineering road drainage replacement project that required extensive excavation along the main street, but instead it created an opportunity for renewed street scapes

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The Soil Under Our Feet Is Not Dirt, It Is Our Future By Rory O’Connell My life and work centres around food – the growing and production of food and teaching people how to cook that food. I have many other interests such as art, literature, music and sport, but it is the growing, cooking and eating of food that really makes me tick and sustains me physically and emotionally. I realise that my passion for, and obsession with, the food I eat may not be shared to the same extent by all, but it is a fact that regardless of our priorities in life, rural or urban, we all need to eat and the better the food we eat the healthier and happier we will all be. My day to day existence is a rural one in what some would say is in an idyllic location. 30 kilometres east of Cork city, my house looks out over fertile farmland, further on to bog land, wet land and then over Ballycotton Bay. My commute to my place of work near Shanagarry village is a 5 minute drive to a 100 acre organic farm and garden in which the Ballymaloe Cookery School is located. In this rural “idyll” I teach our students who come to us from all over the world how to cook. Given the brief introduction to my surrounds, how can anything I have to say have any relevance to urban living? How can my experience be relevant to creating more sustainable and beautiful environments for city and town dwellers who live remotely from where most of the food they eat comes from? 118

To teach our students how to cook properly, we begin, even before they go into the kitchen, by talking about the ingredients they are going to cook and how and where that food is produced. To that end, our student’s first experience of our food is not in the kitchen, but where it all begins in the gardens and on the farm at the Cookery School. In their first “cooking” class, we introduce them to our organic soil which is most carefully tended and they sow a seed, or plant a seedling. They will harvest and cook the fruit of this seed or seedling before they leave us 12 weeks later. The importance of this horticultural moment and exercise cannot be overstated – on a purely practical level we are presenting a simple introductory exercise in how to grow food. On an emotional level, we are silently demanding or at least suggesting that our students invest thoughtfully in the importance of the soil, and especially in our case just how clean and beautiful that soil is. We believe strongly that clean soil produces clean food. It is our responsibility as educators to teach our students as to how the food they are going to cook is grown and produced. For some, the simple act of putting hands into the soil (in many cases a first time experience), the silent energy of that soil, which many will only previously have seen as “dirt” and


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119 photos: Ballymaloe Cookery School


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the transference of the practical, scientific, emotional and physical messages therein, is a light bulb moment as to the reality of the how and the where of the good food they will be handling and learning to cook with. Personally, I am moved when I put my hands into the soil and the simple fact of knowing that a single handful of that soil contains more complex and fragile organisms than there are humans on the planet, makes me both tingle with excitement and feel a humility and responsibility to this “dirt” that we humans have taken for granted for so long. A belief in clean soil free of noxious chemicals is a belief in the continuance of life and with that belief comes a responsibility. Whether you live in town or country, we all have to take this responsibility seriously. No soil - no food. As society has become more urban based, more and more people are at a remove from where their food is grown. This distance from the day to day reality of growing and harvesting food has led to a society that takes the well stocked shelves of our shops for granted. We all know that guaranteed shelves of plenty are a dangerous assumption. The snow storm in Ireland that rather unusually hit Cork in the winter of early 2018 bears this out as supermarket shelves were almost bare after 3 days of transport lockdown. One wonders what

would have happened had the storm prevented the restocking of those shelves for a few more days. I would like to see the relationship between the growing of food and eventually buying it to take home and cook, placed in a much more prominent position in our towns and cities. The easiest and most effective way to do this is to have food growing for all to see. Can we fill our parks and green areas with organic vegetable and fruit plots rather than just flowers and shrubs? Can we have a cow, a few sheep, a well fenced in goat, a chicken run, a duck pond, as central to these public areas as swings, roses and roundabouts are. Can we have a raised box of organic soil for all to dip their hands into and feel the life in the soil that sustains us all? This notion may sound twee and indeed it would be just that if it were to manifest itself as a few token prettified area of growth. This notion needs scale, needs verve, needs to be believed and to be driven by a very real belief that apart from the aesthetic benefit to all, it more importantly sends out the message and delivers it all the year round, of the simplicity, complexity and beauty of growing food. In my experience teaching for 30 years, few moments in life are as precious or as important as the moment one realises the miracle of plant life and the moment one makes that hungry connection to one’s food and wellbeing. 121


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The more we know about the reality of growing food, the less we are likely to waste it. This is a crucial message for everyone in the world Of course we already have a few urban gardens and some groups are heroically reclaiming small corners of towns and cities to grow and harvest. Inevitably these hard fought for oases are on some grim piece of wasteland and run by volunteers on a shoestring budget which in itself sends a message of disrespect to the magnificence of how and what nature provides and to how fine a tightrope we walk on in terms of sustaining ourselves. This is not good enough. 122

We have disrespected our soul and our planet for too long. We disrespect our citizens by not placing the growing of our precious food right in front of their eyes in the most public places and on a scale previously unimagined. Cork could be a beautiful and bountiful garden but we have to plan for it. The greening and growing and beautifying of areas of the city should be the norm rather than the unusual. One would like to think that the food grown in these public places would be harvested and eaten. That of course would be dependent on clean soil, water and air quality – now if we could achieve that, what a glorious message we would be sending out to our citizens and our visitors. Then Cork could truly proclaim itself as a food capital or just a really lovely place to live.


photos: Ballymaloe Cookery School 123


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#MadAboutCork By Alan Hurley

Mad About Cork is a guerilla movement based in Cork city which focuses on urban renewal on a street level. Each week teams of volunteers take to the streets of Cork city to give value to run down areas and derelict sites by beautifying them with artwork, general clean up and guerilla gardens. The project began by a small group of volunteers who wanted to change our city for the better. To do this we began identifying the problems that we felt we could fix. We found 124

problems common in every city like graffitied businesses, vacant derelict sites, littered streets and uninspiring buildings painted in dull colours. With no experience, we began by simply picking up litter and removing graffiti tags from shops and in some cases painting over them. We would hear from some business owners that there was no point in removing the tags as they would only reappear soon after, but we found that if the tags were removed quickly enough then they wouldn't reappear until much later if at all. Traders


and locals are hugely supportive of our efforts. These early wins spurred us on to tackle more ambitious projects like painting over derelict walls to give them new life. Soon after that we added art to these walls as our confidence grew. At this stage we only had 3-5 people helping us with each project but to effect greater change in the community we needed the community to come together. Using our social media platforms we put a call out for volunteers to join us on our mission. Our first volunteer day had

an extra 15 volunteers who turned up to help us in transforming a derelict forgotten laneway, that was transformed into a colourful plant lined lane, that people suddenly would come to photograph for its DIY beauty. These volunteer days have continued ever since and we now do them twice a week. Hundreds of volunteers from all over the world have helped us in our aim to make our City that little bit more beautiful.

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Kyle Street Garden This site was previously an unused space and covered in rubble, has been transformed by our volunteers over the past year. The garden created here has become a type of hub for Mad About Cork. It’s here we have done most of the

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preparation work for other projects and it’s also where we have met many of our volunteers for the first time. If you are passing through Kyle St, be sure to stop and smell the flowers.

photos: Mad About Cork


Mad About Cork’s electrical box paintings honour a wide variety of Cork heroes and characters including Rory Gallagher, Cillian Murphy, Maggie Barry, Daniel Florence

O’Leary, Mary Agnes Clerke, Ashling Thompson, Mary Elmes, the O’Donovan Brothers, King Joffrey/Jack Gleeson, and the legendary Cork band The Frank and Walters.

With his music Rory travelled far and wide, always to return to his hometown, Cork “Goin’ To My Hometown” The day I left, You know the rain was pouring down. The day I left, You know the rain was pouring down. I'm going home again baby, I believe the sun's gonna come on out. Let's go home, boy, let's go home. Yes I'm going to my home town, You know baby I gotta go. Going to my home town, You know I just have to go. I really love you, woman, I'll see you in a year, maybe no, maybe yes. Going to my home town, I'm going to my home town, Going to my home town. 127


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Cork - A Creative City of Making- In the Making By Mary McCarthy

photos: Crawford Art Gallery

The National Sculpture Factory (NSF) in Cork was set up in 1989 by artists, Vivienne Roche, Maud Cotter, Eilis O’Connell and Danny McCarthy. Situated in a former tram depot, the NSF has since flourished to become a unique facility in Ireland and beyond. It is unique in the ways it supports artists working in a myriad of materials and scales and it encourages artists to innovate and control their own art making processes. The disused tramway depot, in the ownership of Cork City Council, is the ideal facility for a large open plan creative enterprise, with its reinforced concrete floors, high open metal frame trussed roof, gantries, large access doors and city centre location. The building’s red brick façade nods to Cork’s industrial past, with its former interconnected tramway systems 128

which connected the city to the outlying areas. With the ongoing support of Cork City Council, the Arts Council and government, the NSF has had two significant architectural interventions. In 1999 architect Tom dePaor was commissioned to create a ‘Mezz’, to facilitate a clean open space for meetings and clean work off the floor. In 2008, Robin Lee Architects created a significant new entrance of scale and contemporary signage. Both these architectural projects demonstrate a commitment to contemporary practice and materials. The NSF vision is one which supports artists, facilities ideas, initiates and strengthens supports networks for artists and acts as a material resource centre. The organisation is an integral part of the City, County and national


Mary McCarthy

photo: Red Power Media

cultural fabric and strongly advocates for the inclusion of the art sector in city place making strategies and initiatives. As a site of productivity, the NSF sits on the literal edge of a changing Cork. Located at a junction on Albert Road, it links the city with the re-emerging Docklands development . Organisations like the NSF have flourished because of the generous spirit of its founders and the spirit of collaboration that was entered into with the City Council and the Arts Council. The NSF founders as artists had fearless ambition and a belief that art making is important and vital to a dynamic city. Since its inception the key to NSF has been its relationships with others such as local authorities

and its principal funders the Arts Council, as well as establishing key relationships with experts in the region, namely Arup engineers, CIT Crawford School of Art, Cork Centre for Architecture Education, Crawford Art Gallery, Tyndall Institute, Glasgow Sculpture Studios, Firestation Studios Dublin, CREATE and others. These local and international partnerships foster dialogue and exchanges that are vital to a resource organisation. The NSF has a core role in supporting artists in residence in the city and in a mid sized European city this influx of artists from elsewhere has created opportunities for artists in Cork city to make new connections. As towns and cities go through seemingly rapid periods of growth, the psychology of place alters 129


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as dramatically as the physical topography. Places that were once familiar, skylines that were populated by silos and spires, concrete office blocks and abandoned sites, suddenly change or disappear. Rapid city changes while welcomed by many, can also be disconcerting for residents and visitors and lead to a sense of disorientation and separation, where literally the streets have no names. This affect is multiplied with new developments, both residential and infrastructural projects that alter the physical backbone and spirit of place. Artists and cultural organisations have a significant role to play in supporting us, in getting to know our city places and neighbourhoods better and enabling us to create new connections with unfamiliar places and people. Experience of place through cultural experience allows people to create powerful personal connections. Cork is home to many artists, festivals and cultural organisations. Organisations such as The Firkin Crane, Triskel Arts Centre, Everyman Palace Theatre, Cork Printmakers, Backwater Artists’ Studios and Crawford Art Gallery, are housed in reused or repurposed buildings such as Tramway depots, a Butter Market and a Custom House, while others like the Glucksman Gallery are situated in award winning new architectural buildings. The artists and organisations who produce work in the city have a powerful and active role in supporting Cork to explore its evolving identity. The presence of artists in cities bring vigour and fresh perspectives and as such have a vital and 130

often under recognised role in the city making processes. Vibrant culture is a matter of doing, creating and understanding. Cork has some extraordinary advantages, geographical, topographical as well as a creative approach with an entrepreneurial mind-set. My wish list for Cork’s future development could include;• a young Urbanist activist organisation to test local authority thinking that would advocate and champion new ideas and new networks. • a resourced policy and evidence based research Think Tank for Urban Cork with a focus on future equitable developments. • create continuous feedback between city policy makers and stakeholders to create trust. • a focus on economic development that would focus on growing the wealth, skills and assets of neighbourhoods and communities rather than that of individuals or corporations. Cork author Frank O’Connor speaking to the BBC in 1961 said “Towns and cities have a mental age of their own. The mental age limit defines the period after which a young man or woman of talent ought to pack his bags and get out. I don’t know exactly how you judge the mental age of a town, but one way is by its bookshops and libraries, art galleries, theatres and concerts.” Let us bear this in mind as Cork develops and advocates for the inclusion of equitable places of curiosity, experimentation and risk taking into our future developments.

Let’s keep checking on Cork’s mental age!


Mary McCarthy

photo: Neil Danton Alex Pentek and Maud Cotter in their studios in NSF

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History of the Creative Community By Alison Ospina

Since early 1960’s West Cork has developed a reputation for the production of high quality arts and crafts. The area has attracted creative minds from all over Ireland, Europe and further afield, inspired by the stunning landscapes, spectral quality of light and ancient history of the area. Craftspeople first began to arrive in West Cork in 1962, when German born Christa Reichel bought a small house just outside of Ballydehob in Gurteenakilla and started a business producing handmade pottery, for sale to locals and tourists alike. Having established Gurteenakilla Pottery, Christa proceeded to invite friends, artists, students and craftspeople to come and work there, helping out in the pottery. During the Summer months she could barely keep the shelves filled, as sales were so brisk. Word quickly spread that West Cork was a beautiful, creative place to live. Property was cheap and at that stage, although contemporary crafts were growing in popularity in Europe’s urban centres, there was no such movement in West Cork. The creative community continued to grow with young people arriving from Cork and Dublin as well as from the UK, Germany, France, Holland 132

and Scandinavia. Many of the new arrivals came with degrees and diplomas from art colleges back home, with the intention of setting up small studio businesses. The new arrivals introduced a variety of contemporary crafts as well as breathing new life into some of the more traditional techniques. The community that developed was unique in that it blended West Cork inspiration and tradition with new techniques and aesthetic influences from all over Europe. From the earliest days, the movement was nurtured and supported by the local population, who instinctively seemed to appreciate and understand it, despite being quite different from anything seen there before. During the early 1970’s, artists and crafts people began to organise and pool resources, looking for ways to promote and sell their products to a wider market. This led to the formation of The Cork Craftsmen’s Guild. In 1973, the Guild opened a small, co operatively run shop in Paul Street in Cork City. The shop was stocked mainly with products made in West Cork. It was a hugely important outlet for many producers, as it linked the arts and crafts of rural West Cork to a larger urban market.


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Top: Wooden carving by Kieran Higgins, ‘Best Vest’ copper craftwork by Paddy MacCormack Collection of face ceramic sculptures by Patrick Connor. All part of 7 HandsCrafts exhibition 134


Alison Ospina

The shop, which ran successfully for over a decade, received no state support and unfortunately did not survive the economic recession of the 1980’s. Recent Times: For decades, art collectors and visitors have been heading to West Cork during the Summer months, not only to enjoy its peaceful atmosphere and stunning landscapes but to take the opportunity to visit artists’ studios, attend exhibitions and participate in arts based activities such as courses and festivals. Today, for a large number of skilled craftspeople, teaching has become their primary income stream. Many teach part time in schools and colleges as well as running courses in their own studios. The learning of craft skills has undergone a renaissance in recent years and there is no shortage of enthusiastic students of all ages, wanting to spend their free time learning to make things by hand. These activities attract visitors to the region who also stay in hotels and B&B’s, eat in restaurants and buy in local shops, which benefits the wider community. Tourism is seen increasingly as an essential income stream for West Cork and the time is ripe for recognising the value and potential of the arts and craft sector and putting in place the necessary structures to support the makers and promote their work.

However West Cork continues to be promoted as a destination for artisan foods, restaurants, kayaking, golf and so on, with barely a mention of its arts and crafts tradition. Compare this with St. Ives in Cornwall UK, which is promoted as being “famous for its internationally acclaimed artists and galleries”. Despite the fact that many visitors come to West Cork for the culture, arts festivals and exhibitions, arts and crafts are barely referred to such as on the Discover Ireland website. Existing Supports: Cork County Council facilitated the development of Cork Craft and Design, the membership organisation responsible for August Craft Month, back in 2010. This is funded by several agencies and is an umbrella organisation, promoting craft based activities in the whole of Cork County and City during the month of August each year. The Cork County Arts Office annual grants also help to fund a variety of exhibitions and festivals. Future Projects: In 2006 a feasibility study was commissioned by West Cork Craft and Design Guild for the development of premises in Skibbereen. More than ten years later, these study’s findings still apply today. 135


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7 Hands Crafts London Exhibition


Alison Ospina

The plan was to develop a “crafted” building which would house;• a gallery dedicated to craft exhibitions as well as a small permanent collection on display. • two fitted out classrooms, for the teaching of pottery, woodwork and textiles. a small shop selling crafts of various price points, all locally produced. • a Café serving the best of West Cork’s craft food • a workshop space for Start-ups. Support for Start-up and expanding businesses, including development of innovation, enterprise and design capabilities These premises would be used year round for the teaching of arts and crafts. Making things with your hands is becoming increasingly important for people who are living in a digital world, courses are popular and people are willing to travel to do a course with a Master Craftsperson in a beautiful location. The Summer months would be additional visitors to Skibbereen encourage people to spend their West Cork as a destination with activities.

busy with and would holidays in arts based

The centre would; • Inspire appreciation, creativity and innovation through its exhibitions and education programmes. • Contribute to the ongoing development of West Cork craft and its critical success.

• Create opportunities for the public to meaningfully engage with craft in a way that develops audiences and markets. Young creative people are increasingly moving to West Cork, away from Cork city which is becoming too expensive to live in and lacks the supports and facilities that artists need. A whole new community is growing in West Cork and needs to be nurtured and supported. A digital app could also be designed to help visitors who have an interest in culture and the arts, to plan a journey from Kinsale to Mizen Head, stopping at open artists studios, galleries, exhibitions, and arts trails, using app map references for places which are difficult to find. For self employed artists and craftspeople to prosper, they need to be supported and valued by the decision makers and powers that be. Even though handmade craft has long been an important part of Irish history, contemporary craft has not been taken seriously by state agencies as something essentially Irish. West Cork has established a reputation for originality and high quality in its Arts and Crafts over the last 50 years. This needs to be embraced and promoted with support from State agencies at all levels, to showcase this great hidden talent of the local craftspeople.

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Silver brooch by Michael Duerden

Ceramic jug by Jim Turner and Etain Hickey

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Fused glass bowl by Angela Brady


Alison Ospina

Top clockwise: Greenwood rocking chair by Alison Ospina + quilted wall hanging by Mary Palmer, ceramic obelisk by Brian Lalor and Jim Turner, ceramic head by Ayelet Lalor, ceramic plates by Leda May 139


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Copenhagenize: Putting Back The Bike In Cities By Mikael Coville Anderson

Here we are, just over a decade into the next great bicycle boom and while the momentum continues unabated around the world, it is sometimes necessary to pause for reflection. The bicycle has been around for roughly 130 years - a flash in the pan if you consider that we have lived together in cities for seven thousand years, yet it remains the transport form most suited to the urban landscape. It was a moment of absolute brilliance in the history of human innovation when the design of the bicycle that we still know today was perfected. Never before has an invention transformed human society so quickly and so efficiently. If the readers of this chapter are representative of the population at large, some will have read the word “bicycle”, mumbled “bloody cyclists” and skipped to the next chapter. At the other end of the spectrum, a larger group are looking forward to reading more. In the middle there is a blurred line between sceptics and supporters of the bicycle as transport. In general, many misconceptions remain about urban cycling and it’s time to clean them up. Let’s step back for a moment. Seven thousand years. That’s about how long we have been living 140

together in cities. For most of that time, the streets of our cities were the most democratic spaces in the history of homo sapiens. We did everything in the streets that were, in effect, extensions of our homes. They were our living rooms, a space in which we transported ourselves, bought and sold our goods, flirted and gossiped and where our children played. Almost overnight, after we handed them to engineers, they became regarded instead as puzzles to be solved with mathematical equations. They became public utilities like sewers or the electricity and water supply. This was the greatest paradigm shift in the history of our cities. Despite the current trend to implement public transport and re-establish the bicycle on our streets, we are still paying the price for our folly. Bicycle traffic in most cities in the world peaked in the late 1940’s and what happened after that is well documented and equally depressing. They came out of America like a tsunami, washing over the cities of the world in a flash - American Traffic Engineering Standards. They were adopted absolutely everywhere and we spent the better part of the 1950’s and 1960’s reshuffling the urban landscape in a feverish


141 photos: Mikael Coville Anderson


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attempt to make space for the automobile tide. Since then, the collective ailment we all suffer from - what I call STUML, Short Term Urban Memory Loss - has accelerated. We tend to see what is right in front of us and gaze wistfully into the near future, but we tend to forget our urban past.

rub - make the bicycle the fastest A to B and you’re on your way. People don’t choose the bike because it is cheap, fun, healthy or good for the planet. Every homo sapien who has ever lived has wanted the same thing. The fastest route from A to B. Understanding the needs of homo sapiens and transport psychology is key.

This applies to so many aspects of our urban life but in particular to transport. It is fascinating to me how completely normal and ubiquitous the bicycle was in virtually every city in the world. Ireland was no exception. The Irish understood early on the rationality and pragmatism of urban cycling. The novel The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien best illustrates how the bicycle completely dominated the Irish psyche as much as it did in countries like Denmark and the Netherlands. Photos of impressive bicycle traffic in Irish cities as late as the 1960’s reveal that the automobile tsunami is a new and depressing development.

If it is all so simple then why is it is so hard for so many cities? Short answer?- Traffic engineers. They have no comprehension of anthropology, transport psychology, urban design or any of the things we need to place first in the hierarchy of needs for our cities. They stare at mathematical models - most of which originated in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Humans are not featured in their methods - only vehicles. And yet they occupy the pedestal we built for them. Still listening to their failed, outdated theories about traffic modelling and adding lanes to reduce congestion and spending obscene amounts of money on it all. Despite the fact that nowhere in the world over the past century has expanding a road or motorway led to less congestion. You read that right. If you make more space for cars you create induced demand and more motorists show up with their vehicles.

Luckily, cities on every continent are now furrowing their brow as they desperately seek to get the bikes back as transport. Danish and Dutch cities remain the benchmark, but rising stars include Seville, Paris, Buenos Aires, Vancouver and the list goes on. Living in the ‘City of Cyclists’, as Copenhagen is known, it is easy to see how to do it effectively. Sixty-one percent of the population of one of the richest cities in the world ride a bike to work, school or university in the city. Only 9% persist in using that last century transport form, the car. The primary reason is that the bicycle is the quickest way to get around the city. There’s the

There is Copenhagen, but there is also Aarhus, Denmark’s second city, as well as many smaller Danish towns. In Aarhus, despite the hills, 300,000 people have access to a comprehensive network of cycle tracks and facilities to promote and prioritise cycling. The city has a modal share of 19% for cycling. There are no limits for cities. Bicycles roll despite climate. Oulu, Finland, near the Arctic Circle 143


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has 14% modal share for bikes - in the winter. Seville, with temperatures over 40 degrees C in the Summer went from 0.2% on bikes to 7% in just four years. Topography? No problem. Aarhus, Tokyo, Oslo. To name just three cities with inclines as well as good cyclist rates.

won’t cycle here… ” it means that that individual won’t. But luckily they don’t speak for the population at large. That “people won’t cycle here” lark was mumbled in cities everywhere and was proven wrong almost immediately as infrastructure was put in.

The darling of the moment is located in the heart of the oil fields of Tatarstan, Russia. The city of Almetyevsk called me up two years ago and declared their intention to be the Copenhagen of Russia in two short years. My company designed the network for them and they built it. From virtually no cyclists in 2016 to 6% in 2018, with 85kms of Best Practice cycle tracks to serve the city’s 160,000 people.

It is getting embarrassing if your city hasn’t got its game face on for urban cycling yet. It is not a difficult task. Everything we need to design a city for bicycles as transport was invented at least one hundred years ago. Ignore the traffic engineers for now - they can help us build stuff later - and focus instead on urban design. Design well, using century old best practice and you will succeed. But if you start with substandard infrastructure that doesn’t connect up in a coherent, intelligent network and instead bank on bits and pieces of crappy bike lanes then you will fail.

Every city on the planet has at least 25% of the population ready to ride if we design our cities for them. If you hear someone say “people

This is the Age of Urbanism - a welcome reprieve from the Age of Engineering that has crushed our cities and our urban spirits. We are thinking about our cities very differently now than at any point in the past century. A new paradigm shift is underway and bicycles are at the forefront of our urban revolution. If you don’t see bicycles as part of the solution, then you are part of the problem and you had better get our of our way!

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CORKCITY Cork is Ireland’s Maritime Haven with a significant maritime history spanning over a thousand years... ...set in a beautiful soft coastal environment where the land, the people and their culture will allow you to discover a quirky way to stimulate all your senses. Cork is ideally situated for you to explore two of the best experiences in Ireland – the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East.

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map courtesy of Pure Cork 149


The Cork Papers are intended as a ‘primer’ for the future of Cork City. The collection is also in many ways, a primer for all cities as the issues of growth in a finite world, sustainability, conservation and quality of life are universal and equally apply, but of course all cities are unique in their own specific set of circumstances and each city must play the cards dealt to it by history, nature and circumstance. In this sense Cork has been blessed with the resources and potential to make it a city that is first amongst equals.These papers have wider messages for Cork city as a whole and the way that future projects could proceed best with widespread public support. All of these essays in their own way advocate the future development of Cork as a 21st century sustainable economy based on a full understanding of its particular spirit and character.

Published by Cork City Council

photo: Port of Cork

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