Rather than starting my thesis with a preconceived building or typology in mind, I began instead by looking at the large areas of low-density residential housing, occurring on the outskirts of Wexford town.  With little or no public amenities or services.  I wanted to better understand what the community and area needed prior to settling on a proposal.

I proceeded to focus in on the area of Coolcotts because of its density combined with the lack of facilities, high rate of early school leaving and unemployment.  Coolcotts had a population of almost 2500 people with a serious scarcity of community facilities – “Coolcotts has become a village without the necessary services and infrastructure to support the population”.

Through community engagement, surveys, interviews with residents, and local Community Groups, it became clear that one building was not enough.

My final proposal involved the insertion of a series of public buildings along an external path that incorporated additional activities and social spaces (squares, gardens, playgrounds etc.).  Establishing a more connected and accessible relationship with the existing built fabric.

My concept was based on three components:
1.    Path
2.    Activity
3.    Building
The path functioning as the organising axis for the elements by which it is accompanied.  A form of ‘social acupuncture’.  In the practice of acupuncture, a traditional Chinese form of medicine, the human body can be healed by the insertion of small needles at particular pressure points.

The task was to locate the ‘pressure points’ in the suburban fabric, and then through the careful insertion of community buildings, services and spaces, stitching it together to form a cohesive whole.

‘Architecture alone cannot create communities, no matter how well considered or practiced.  Architecture must provide the conditions for communities to exist and grow in a healthy, diverse and inclusive way.’ 

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.