My research thesis focused on the issue of non-place, in particular in and around infrastructural networks. In scouring the countryside for places that had been diluted or destroyed by infrastructural expansion, I discovered the Corbally canal, a truncated spur of the Grand Canal intended to run from Naas to Hacketstown, until financing ran out 5 miles south of Naas, resulting in a harbour and harbour master’s house in a middle of a field in Kildare and a useless stretch of canal, all separated from the roaring M7 motorway by a thin sliver of land. The canal had been culverted in the 1940s and wasn’t navigable. As a result it has become a sealed and undisturbed ecosystem, home to rare plant and insect life due to its unique condition, in effect a linear nature reserve. Moved by the strangeness of this anomaly, the due diligence rabbit-hole lead to the discovery that planning applications in the vicinity were being rejected due to the presence of a JPZ (Junction Protection Zone) This area was earmarked for a connecting intersection for the Leinster Orbital Route, a new gyratory outside the M50 connecting Naas to Drogheda. Another layer of speed and movement was looming, to further dilute the character of strange abandoned 18th century harbour and the isolated spur of canal. The project aims to intervene here, to engage with the new spaghetti junction and offer an off-ramp to the linear nature reserve below and additionally a place to study its unique condition. It presents two very different facades to very different speed of passers-by, some at 120km/h, others at 5km/h.

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.


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.’ 

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.