Of Brick and Stone

This project is based in Limerick City within the Georgian-era gridded city centre. The city has had an ongoing vacancy and dereliction issue, which has affected the historic centre and these 18th Century constructions. The scheme looks at activating the central space of the block, and connecting to existing terrace buildings along their garden plots. It is a rare occurrence in Limerick to see the inside of these city blocks, so I proposed a common surface area, accessible by the public. The scheme invites the public to pass through the middle of block, encountering a series of circular public spaces as they move from one main street to another. I chose a work-live Artists Studio typology for the scheme, to draw on Limerick’s large artist population. The idea was to have multi-use workshop spaces on the basement and ground floor, with a mix of living units above this. It was important to me that this central space be publicly accessible, as I was trying to encourage a visual dialogue between the processes of craft and the city’s inhabitants. The idea of brick-vaulted spaces on the sub level is a reference to the extensive network of brick sub- structures beneath Limerick’s Georgian terraces and streets.

Pub on Halston Street

The project takes on a back land site south of Dorset Street, Dublin 7, with entrances on to Anne’s Street North, Ball’s Lane and Halston Street. The programme is a meeting house or town hall that conceals its size from the surrounding streets. From Anne St North you enter a small bar and from there move through a series of rooms; lounge, dining room, garden, etc., until you reach the Hall. From Ball’s Lane you come through a narrow lane into a courtyard garden and on through the sequence of rooms. From Halston Street, a doorway in an almost blank façade leads in to the garden and on. The sequence culminates in a window that looks back out over the city.
Each room has a fireplace, alcoves and recesses making more nested spaces.
The range and dimension of rooms was influenced by a survey of Dublin pubs and cafes and a wider study of international precedent projects that provide a place to gather at different scales.
The aspiration of the project was to take on the role of the pub in civic life and to expand upon it without losing a sense of seclusion and intimacy. To make space for solitude and celebration in public life.

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.