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Lower Barrack Street

Award Winner in the Southern Region Category (over £100,000) of the Irish Architecture RIAI Regional Awards 2000.

Citation:

"Using infill at its creative best. This is masterful planning, maximising a restricted, steep-sloping and difficult site to form six well-crafted terraced houses with integral car park, which satisfies at all levels, that is, when disregarding the vulnerability of unprotected pavement entrances. The visual separation from adjoining properties and the projection of zinc-clad bays straddling recessed porches punctuated by curvilinear dormers set against plain stuccoed walls creates a dynamic rhythm to this refreshingly modernist stepped block, admirably reflecting the scale and character of perhaps Cork city's oldest quarter. Corporation housing comes of age." (Irish Architectural Review: Volume 2, 2000).

Architects Account

Barrack Street 3This terrace of seven local authority housing units has been developed in the context of Cork City Historic Action Plan. This overall redevelopment strategy for the medieval area of the city includes the restoration of key buildings as well as fostering a sensitive approach towards new development within this area. Barrack Street formed the south approach to the medieval walled city of Cork. The site in question lies at the city end of the street, adjacent to the River Lee, which marked the extent of the medieval city.

A terrace of 19th century houses that previously occupied the site was demolished in the 1970's to make way for a road-widening scheme. This change in scale, relative to the surrounding streets, makes what was a narrow street seem more akin to a public space pulled back from the river.

Barrack Street 1As the focal point of a number of vistas the design seeks to capitalise on the increased visibility to and from the site. With the original building line erased the form of the new buildings are manipulated in response to the altered site conditions. The central terrace of four houses is stepped back from the street in an address to the space it overlooks. This move opens oblique views to the river and city beyond from the first floor oriel windows. The curved roofs refer to the gabled frontage that was predominant in the medieval city. These roof elements form a third elevation viewed from Elizabeth Fort, whose ramparts overlook the site to the rear. The two 'bookend' units at either end of the central terrace articulate the junction with the existing fabric and are irregular in plan. The uppermost house sits hard on the street edge and surveys the approach from Evergreen Street. The lower 'bookend' is comprised of a ground floor apartment adapted for wheel chair access with a maisonette on top facing the narrower Cobh Street.

The building materials used for the exterior are predominantly of an indigenous nature and are used relative to their proximity with the street. Limestone and in-situ concrete form a tough street edge at low level. Harled lime plaster gives a robust finish to the two 'bookend' units. The central terrace is finished in smooth floated lime plaster and the uppermost elements are wrapped in titanium zinc.

Barrack Street 2

Project Team

Architect: Cork City Council City Architect's Office.
Project Architects: Neil Hegarty,
Ernest Burns,
Chris Ralphs.
Architectural Technician: David Ivers
Project Engineer: John Dromey
Consultant Engineer: Ray Keane & Associates.
Consultant Quantity Surveyor: Manuel O'Brien & Associates.
Main Contractor: John F. Supple Ltd.
Photography: Kevin Dwyer.