Degrees of Repurposing Architecture

The thesis explores whether material can be reused within its local context to enhance the essence of place. In particular by exploring the ways in which materials could be recycled, the author searches for grounded sense of place for the surrounding community.

Given a fading sense of community in the town centre of Drogheda, the chosen programme was inspired by the urgency of the needs and values of the community. A need for safer spaces for the present community and for future generations is identified.

Repurposing the Abbey ruins of St. Mary d’Orso, which historically embodied a culture for caring in the community, the proposal brings it back to the forefront once more to tackle the issues of the present day, working through its materiality to establish an essence of place.

Social Architecture and its Impact on Mental Wellbeing

Architecture has the power to influence our lives in a profound and impactful way. Conscious and considered design has the ability to alter the way we think and behave, therefore affecting the way we feel. Design has proven its ability to assist in recovery or prolong the suffering of people dealing with mental health issues. Our growing understanding and awareness of mental illness and its complexity has helped destigmatize many mental disorders. The aim of my thesis is to research and implement architectural techniques and designs that promote positive mental health in urban areas.

The overarching aim of my thesis is to create a community within an existing area that promotes interaction between individuals. A driving force behind my thesis is the prevalence of loneliness and the feeling of isolation in many communities today. This is a growing issue that is incredibly hard to properly identify and has only been pushed to the forefront of the public consciousness in recent years. Intense loneliness has been proven to lead to depression and anxiety as well as many other mental illnesses, which I will explore further throughout my thesis. Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is a relatively new practice which involves mindful and meditative techniques. Studies over the last thirty years have shown the positive impact MBCT has on patients suffering from various mental illnesses. By using similar techniques within architecture, I intend to explore how we can design spaces that benefit mental health on a community level.

The site I have chosen to work with is an existing carpark on Ellen Street in Limerick City centre. The space has an interesting and dynamic history in terms of use. St. Michael’s church and a derelict 1800s corn store sit to the west of my site while retail bookmarks the space to the east and west. The parallels between my research and the existing church create an interesting dynamic which I will explore further throughout my thesis.

My intention is to create a space within the city that can cater for a variety of demographics, promoting social interaction, mindfulness, communication and cultural/spiritual growth. For this reason, I have chosen a sculpture gallery as the focal point of my project. This will also include community rooms, a meditative garden, a food hall and a small number of rental workspaces.

Living, In-between

My thesis investigates an alternative to the profit-driven development that currently shapes the housing market in Dublin City. I am proposing a new housing typology and development model to provide a collective and affordable way of living. The site chosen for this investigation currently sits vacant in the North Inner City.

The scheme consists of 16 dwellings over four floors with shared functions and a communal garden at street level. The dwellings vary in size from 69 m2 to 155 m2 in order to invite a mixture of household sizes and profiles. The dwellings are generous in size allowing the typology to sit somewhere in-between high-density city apartments and suburban housing.

The plan opposite shows two apartments and an external circulation core. Different coloured ceramic floor tiles spill out from each apartment into the shared circulation space creating different levels of threshold and ownership.

In both shared and private areas the design proposes generosity of space, encouraging freedom of use. The design aims to give people as much from the architecture as possible before they can appropriate it themselves.

The shared external circulation functions as a social meeting space for residents and allows for a gradual transition from city to dwelling. The design invites residents to take ownership of this space, occupy it and use it as an extension of the individual dwellings. The collage model below explores this concept.

Finding Value in the Invaluable

This thesis is an exploration into the sequence of spatial experiences which is afforded to the individual by their built environment. It is an investigation of the urban condition, ideas of procession and promenade, and adaptation in an endeavour to curate a responsive architectural attitude to designing within our urban fabric.

My area of study is Limerick city centre. I investigate the character of the city realm and the experience of the everyday. This is a place plagued by urban decay and vacancy; however, it is also rich in its history and design. The Georgian grid is a renowned example of urban planning and is considered a special area of conservation. This thesis examines building heritage, conservation, and dereliction in Limerick city.

The chosen site forms part of a Georgian block in Limerick city. It contains the derelict buildings of nos. 34-41 Catherine Street, and their associated brown-field site in the block interior. The site borders Glenworth lane to the northeast, Catherine street to the south east, the Mallow Street terraces to the south west, and a laneway from Malow Street to the northwest. The block in which it sits faces onto O’Connell Street, a primary thoroughfare in Limerick, and its location is an area of transition between primarily commercial and residential parts of the city.

The proposal of this thesis aims to create a piece of urban fabric which enables a richness of interface between the human and their build environment. The intervention strives to enhance the spatial experiences of the city-goer as they move through the city and provide public spaces within for city and community happenings to take place.

Tradisiún a Chaomhnú – an teanga, an cultúr agus na healaíona

This thesis investigates the role that architecture has or can have in preserving cultural ideas that strengthen our expression and sense of identity. When thinking about our féiniúlacht, who we are, we often think of our mother-tongue and the heritage of ceol, scéalaíocht, filíocht, and béaloideas. It is our language that evokes a sense of place, Béal Bán, the white mouth, Cloichear, a place of stones or An Daingean, the fort.

My area of interest lies on the Dingle Peninsula, Corca Dhuibhne, the Gaeltacht where I grew up. This place where my identity is rooted. A place that has provided me with a connection and moulded my understanding of what the essence of Irish people is and has been for generations. In Dingle town, there’s a building which provoked an interest within me. An art deco façade amongst the patchwork of coloured townhouses in the fishing town. The Phoenix Cinema, one of the last old Irish cinemas of its kind which was, until recently, a space for people to gather and experience an interpretation of culture from around the world.

I will be taking the typology of the Old Irish Cinema as an existing infrastructure that lies empty within many towns scattered across our island and look to repurpose these spaces that once acted as cultural hearths within our communities. Initially, these were places of film, of dance, of music and of interaction. We must reignite these spaces to allow them to be places of cultural importance once again. A place where language, song, dance, and lore can thrive, where culture can flourish once more. 

A place to house Irish Identity

A Landscape Infrastructure for Cork Harbour

The contemporary picturesque, as presented in this thesis, is a of landscape that is both cultural and industrial nature. Industrial, in that the landscape is a working, productive entity; adapting to changing uses over time, while paced to the tempo of natural and ecological processes. Cultural, in the sense of an empathetic engagement with it’s human collective.

A Landscape Infrastructure for Cork Harbour.
The sea’s potential to transform our contemporary world inspired our research group, to develop an idea for a ‘landscape infrastructure’ in Cork Harbour.

A research archipelago was designed to support the aspirations of the Irish Maritime Energy Resource Cluster IMERC’s, the needs of the Irish Navy and National Maritime College and the environment of Cork Harbour. With the absence of an immediate community of inhabitants, it therefore, tests the ideas of an imagined place developing over time. A landscape of islands is reclaimed, the industrial slagheap is remediated and a tidal wall for wave energy production is created. A network of waterways, walls, wetlands and transport routes, supports the setting for maritime research, testing and training. The tapestry is enriched with a programme of accommodation, public spaces, trading buildings and reprogrammed industrial warehouses.

To evoke the atmosphere of this uniquely imagined seascape, a set of individual research projects were set on this invisible territory.

This study repossesses unprogrammed ground to connect the archipelago in a landscape of public space. Taking cues from topography and history, it carves connections between the existing naval base, remnants of industry, new island additions and natural landscape for new and existing communities to share. The social agenda of the proposal, is a burial ground and public garden for permanent and visiting communities of the islands. It attempts to balance the local identity of Cork Harbour, global influences and the needs of the natural environment. The design moderates private and public thresholds to create spaces for people to meet, share and enjoy in a number of ways. At the same time, it is a geographically sensitive seascape and natural habitat and a place to reflect on time and ecology.

CIANOBAIR: The Architecture of Remote Work in Donegal

The thesis explores the emerging role of remote working infrastructure in the revitalization of Irish towns.

Often interpreted as an isolating activity, the thesis proposes the reinterpretation of remote work as a collective endeavour: one with the capacity to challenge, reconfigure, and ultimately reform notions of how we live today. Situated at a critical juncture with regards to how we might move forward, the thesis asserts the question:
What is the architecture of remote work going to be?

In response to recent government policy acknowledging the ‘remote working hub’ as infrastructure, the thesis consciously interrogates and reframes the role of these infrastructures to shed light on how they could adopt a broader role in addressing the emerging needs of Irish Towns.

This is explored through a situated case study in the town of Ramelton, Co. Donegal that reconceptualizes the infrastructure as a responsive civic amenity: one where social, cultural and community programs have been integrated alongside co-working spaces in a critique of the infrastructure’s homogenous commercial role. This amenity is spatialized through the adaptive re-use of former warehouses at The Quay in Ramelton. The infrastructure has been translated through an approach that enables flexible appropriation of the existing fabric and emphasizes the social role of work in the life of Irish towns.

The thesis aims to construct a dialogue with regards to the role of public infrastructure; aligning broader social and environmental ambitions with specific architectural considerations through policy, and the evolving role of what it means to live and work in Irish towns. This dialogue advocates for a responsive approach to the implementation of these infrastructures where they deeply engage with the affordances of their status as public infrastructure.

Living with Machines

Approximately one third of the Irish population live in towns, another third in surrounding rural areas. Yet these rural settlements are in a state of crisis fueled by vacancy and inefficacious public spaces; their identities are in urgent need of repair.

Situated in the small town of Tullow, Ireland, this thesis is grounded in the deep-rooted interdependence between this community and its agriculture, addressing the issues of public space, identity and festivity in the contemporary Irish town. Rejecting a romanticisation of the bygone days, and instead focusing on making explicit the inherent identities and existing cultural fabric of local communities. The architecture becomes an honest portrait, driven by a celebration of the everyday.

The project celebrates the ambivalence of contemporary rural living in its many dualities, combining the town’s seasonal grain drying industry with a town hall and public space. Reimagining the role of the town square in contemporary communities, the existing market square and the new Grain Square are conceived as a pair of unidentical twins. They serve distinct and complementary roles for the town, threading together a sequence of pedestrianized rooms connecting the town’s heart to its hinterland. The Grain Square acts as the interface between the everyday routines of townlife and the workaday rituals of modern farming. Unfolding against the backdrop of the evolving tones, forms and textures of a local agrarian calendar, they serve to mend the fractured identity of this contemporary town.

The Foyer, An Investigation of Social and Economic Barriers to Health

The focus of my project is to explore a way to reduce health inequalities that exist in our society today. This includes people who are socially excluded within the city. It attempts to create a healthier city by integrating communities, placing value upon our public realm and forming an attitude towards the need for civic interaction while creating the best kind of internal and external environment – one that honours the needs and well-being of those who will use it.

The proposal sets out to create a Foyer for the city which reflects a new public house. It will include multi-use facilities including a reception foyer, a community café, G.P suites, counselling rooms, a branch public library, community rooms and an accommodation block. It addresses a shortcoming in civic institutions and civic places that allows for the welcoming of these people who may need short-term to medium-term support.

The chosen site for this exploration is a vacant plot adjacent to Colbert Station in Limerick City, Ireland. It is situated along Parnell Street, a site where I have observed a very evident explicit result of impoverishment. I have recognised that there is an abundance of people within this part of the city in dire circumstances that we have become so anaesthetized to. Thus, I have located the building in an area of the city where it is most needed.

The constriction of the proposal is made up of a red brick double-stacked open stretcher bond, it is a self-supporting façade intermittently tied back to a glulam column and beam superstructure to allow differential movement. Its colour echoes that of the surrounding Georgian buildings to add some unity to the streetscape. The double stacked and open bond of brickwork states the envelope is not load bearing but a screen enveloping the whole building creating different types of environments of light and ventilation conditions through various treatments of the perforated brick.

The Castle Centre: Shining a Spotlight on Architectural Form

The Castle Centre, situated on an inflexion between the seafront and the commercial heart of Ballycastle, provided an opportunity for an exciting performance and social hub, something wholly unique for the North Coast of Ireland. The design takes shape around five key concepts: a break in the street, a beacon for ‘the island’, the potential for two facades, using the agricultural barn as a structural module and ‘place making’. It is the very crux of the project that it must not only serve the local community and heritage, but also be a mirror of it. The elements include a central hall, individual study spaces, flexible meeting facilities, a outdoor seating facility and a purpose-built stage facing the square, with the tower being a physical representation of an attitude taken to the community which the building intends to serve: can this hub not only facilitate Ballycastle, but also the population of Rathlin Island, who are so dependent on the mainland. Through a physical beacon, which calls to the lighthouse typology so ingrained within the coastal environment, the net which the project’s cast is widened.

The long-standing ritual of barn raising became a key player in the narrative of the project. It provided the basis from which the structural module was created, and thus the project takes its form from the module. The material pallet is selected as to create independent experiences on the exterior and interior: The exterior is detailed through concrete at a human scale which is separated from the constant pitched roof by glazing. The interior is distinguished through a timber ply finish and glulam structure, creating an instant separation between inside and outside. This structural identity is dictated so that certain spatial moves can result in special places being experienced. This manifests itself predominantly in the meeting points between elements; roof and glazing, floor and wall, wall and ceiling.