Resilience in Architecture. Active Landscapes & New Island Communities

This thesis considers our relationship with land. It is an architectural proposal that stems from a collection of historical, theoretical, and analytical studies of our past inhabitation in the West of Ireland. It celebrates a past connection to place, material, and one another. It outlines the resilient nature of the early Western settlers in terms of placemaking, despite the aggressions of the wild winter swells, sterile soils, and sharp south-westerly winds. Ultimately, it is a study of an environmentally-sensitive architecture, unaccompanied by architects, in the hope of alleviating the customary destruction of cultural landscapes and stimulating an argument for how we live, where we live, and
what we build with.

The chosen site is in the rural village of an Cheathrú Rua ‘Carraroe’, county Galway. It lies in the heart of a peninsula in a Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) region of Connemara. As a result of the climate crisis and rising sea levels, the peninsula will become an island and the village of Carraroe will become a coastal town by 2090.

The project hopes to propose a new prototype for building in these vulnerable landscapes. This prototype aims to reactivate the existing windswept nodes of human inhabitation speckled along the west coast of Ireland, with a refreshed sensitvity to cultural landscapes. The design endeavours to allow spaces for biodiversity, island culture, and community to flourish while negotiating the subsequent changing terrain over time, as the village welcomes a new tide.

Re-Imagining Community: establishing a public space in small town Ireland

My thesis interest lies in the design and thought behind public spaces in Irish towns and how it impacts the identity and well-being of individuals in a community. Through a study of urban spaces that engage with the success and failures of specific conditions used, I attempt to understand how we as architects can provide a true, successful public realm for communities.

My chosen locus is the small town of Baltinglass in County Wicklow. With a population of 2,760, it’s located west of the Wicklow mountains. Baltinglass is a commuter town to Dublin and has a valuable history with multiple protected buildings. From once a rich community orientated town to now a vehicle and money ran town, Baltinglass lacks the inclusion of a public realm and gathering point outside the fixed confines of the pub and sport culture.

My chosen site is located on the corner of Chapel Hill and Weavers Square, situated adjacent to a community hall and handball alley. My design of a community hub intends to listen to the people’s urgent needs and act as a ‘safe space’ away from work and home. I will propose a new design of Weaver’s Square to re-introduce a sense of community and a purpose-built area for the residents of Baltinglass.

The programme is a pedestrianised town centre with a community centre and private garden. The project aims to acknowledge the lack of pedestrian and community space within the town and develop the town centre into a focal point for activity and living.

Through a design of a playful timber structure and the use of cork oak materiality, the centre will inspire creativity and positive engagement featuring flexible studio/ performing spaces, quiet rooms, a range of exterior and interior seating and gathering points, 24-hour accessible areas and surrounding cork -oak forested walkways. Access to the building will be free, publicly accessible, and open to encourage a diversity in terms of inhabitants as well as the development of cross-cutting networks and relationships. A public space accessible to everyone.

A focal point in the heart of Baltinglass.

Amelioration, Information and Architecture

This thesis investigates how consequential buildings such as data centres are an aftereffect of our overuse of energy and dependence on information storage. 

I would like to question our intense interactions with the land, our production of data, our remaining balance of energy and our obsession with growth. We live among anti-human structures that are an invisible extension of our modern lifestyle; an integral infrastructure of the present-day future. Steel-clad objects are a by-product of our interdependence on information, data and the cloud. 

Our dependence on data centres has created an over-reliance on energy and water for the upkeep of these organisms’ vitals. As autonomous structures; their use of resources as commodities are verging on becoming a privilege. The buildings are that of storage, a space without windows, a place without feeling, a room without inhabitants. Four walls partition all information about us; yet this space is not for you or me. Can our understanding of data centres be rearranged and dismantled as easily as they could be taken apart? 

The data centre can be a place for the people; as an educational space that ensures understanding of our future. We can urge for degrowth and retain our architectural esteem through delicate interaction with the land and form buildings for people, with care and consideration for the present. An energy monastery.

The locus of this thesis is the basin of the River Shannon, but not confined to its floodplains. The river holds more influence than just what it touches currently. Using this body of water almost as a metaphor for the development of the systems which are now essential to us. The river Shannon is ever-present but human interaction is forever re-arranging around her, from ecclesiastic settlements to Bord na Móna power stations.

Sometimes it is a slight reconfiguration which leads to the biggest impacts on the system to which we plug-in to.

Extracting Purpose: Nurturing our inland waterways

My thesis is an investigation into the future of Irelands inland waterways. It looks specifically at the reuse of both materials and the sites of past industry that lie along the paths of our canals. In the past, Irelands canals served an industrial purpose connecting the towns linked by this network to Dublin. This thesis looks at the possibility of expanding the services and facilities available for people living on house boats to bring back the vibrancy and life that was once seen on the canals, back when workers were travelling the countryside by barge. By creating a new sustainable network supported by production on the banks of the waterways.

This thesis focuses on building with timber in an Irish environment as well as the reuse of industrial materials and warehouses along the canal banks to transform these places into vibrant functioning spaces once again. This would be made possible by using the waterways as streets of life and transport in the future.

The project was focused on the Grand canal, the canal was thought of as a redeveloped industrial corridor. However, this thesis can also be applied to any struggling post-industrial waterway whose banks show signs of dereliction.

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

Curated Decay: Interventions to Stabilize Derelict Structures

The thesis project is centered around the illustrious Iveagh Markets located in the Liberties. The owners of this remarkable site have long held a deep reverence for its structure, perhaps even to the point of being overly cautious about making any alterations. However, the project aims to strike a balance between preservation and revitalization by exploring the concept of “stabilizing” derelict structures. We delve into the realm of architectural interventions that not only introduce new materials and spatial elements but also pay homage to the layers of time and the previous inhabitants who have left their mark on this cherished space. Our approach can be likened to that of a skilled gardener tending to a garden, infused with meticulous care and thoughtful consideration. 

At the heart of our project lies the fundamental goal of rejuvenating derelict structures by envisioning alternative methods to “stabilize” them. The excavation of the ground floor slab of the market exposed ruins from 17th-century Dublin but also compromised the structural integrity of the columns holding up the balcony and roof structure. Over the next 23 years, rain pours down through the ceiling, and plants grow wild reaching out towards the sun. The scaffolding structure proposed integrates itself to provide structural support and also a spatial function. It rethinks how the former dry market hall can be used as a “Chameleon” Space which changes its function based on how platforms can be installed on the scaffolding structures and bamboo blinds can control access and light.

Remaining faithful to this guiding principle, we carefully select materials that are both easy to install and maintain. By doing so, we ensure the longevity of our interventions while harmoniously integrating them within the existing fabric of the building. Our comprehensive study encompasses various aspects such as structure and function, allowing us to propose interventions that enhance the site’s overall integrity. Through this project, we aspire to honor the essence of the Iveagh Markets while breathing new life into its dormant spaces.

HAMMOND LANE | Cultural Disassembly

The ongoing draining of spirit, life and culture of the markets area while often acknowledged, its material demolition continues covertly. Considering economic constraints, context, climate and the direction of the area, this thesis refers to cultural disassembly as both an ongoing situation and as an act of protest. 

mining, borrowing, salvaging,

repairing, transforming, storing,

re-using and reimagining.

a celebration of material, process and the spirit of the city’s very fabric.

This thesis critiques the Dublin 7 markets area under the theme of Cultural Disassembly.

Dissecting this as two readings, |1| in reference to the current situation whereby the embodied cultural significance of the markets as a wholesale, almost industrial area is waning, |2| accepting this reality and striving to bring light on the process of its material demolition, deconstruction or rather disassembly, as a cultural practice.

The vehicle to investigate this further lies in the site of HAMMOND LANE, a site historically linked to manufacture and contemporarily to vacancy and decay. Reimagining a baron, publicly owned void as a machine of process, repair and maintenance in the interest of material reuse.

Here, the relationship of manufacture and civic necessity is interrogated as

foundry, workshop, school, library, market.’

The fabric of the building itself attempts to limit addition, only through the re-use of three nearby warehouses. Various dimensions of  re-use are questioned from re-purposing of demolition rubble, to the reprocessing of steel structure and building components.

Drawing and modelling largely focus on these specific additions, and the process behind each. Secondly, on the relationship of the civic and the industrial through a reimagination of place feeding from the surrounding local historical culture as a market and trading area and the industrial heritage of the site itself.’

The Hermits Retreat

This thesis aimed to explore the use of narrative design in the region of Lecale in Co. Down. Off the coast of Ballyhornan lies a tidal piece of land, Guns Island, draped in history and mythology. I used the hermit of Guns Island as a design tool to explore the importance of narrative within architecture.

Using a story to communicate ideas presents a clear and rational method of individual experiences and how we understand our conditions. Framing design proposals as a narrative shows a perspective to clients and the public, as we all understand the importance of storytelling and its value. People may not understand design concepts, but they do understand stories. Rebecca Solnit professed that “Stories are compasses and architecture, we navigate by them, we build our sanctuaries and our prisons out of them, and to be without a story is to be lost in the vastness of a world”. Storytelling adds meaning where design cannot. Though drawings and a finished design show what can be done in the real world, narrative design shows process and progress, giving design structure.

The hermit’s story on Guns Island helped solidify the potential for new users to inhabit the island. The hermit’s philosophy is integral to his character. The folklore of his life on the island gives the island character that needs to be respected.

Through a narrative design lens, we can create suitable accommodation on an island, respecting the history and philosophy of the hermit’s way of living. The narrative helps influence the design’s form, technology and spatial qualities.

The Potential of the Void

The study looked at the making of civic spaces through the imagination of figurative architectural objects within an empty site facing the Liffey, in Usher’s Island. An amphitheater, a library, and a communal kitchen are placed on the lot and a pedestrian route is reimagined, drawing people within the site and away from the trafficked Bridgefoot Street. The use of figurative and platonic forms of architecture allowed me to not dwell on the typology of the new but rather to focus on how the new buildings acted upon the ground and to imagine how civic life would materialize around them.

Through the process, a hypothesis was formed: an attention to the design of the void space, not merely as the negative of self-referential buildings, but as a building matter that alternates with the built form creating relations and plots, can actively connect the new architecture to the urban tissue that contains it, and prepare it for the unforeseeable metamorphosis that it holds. In this sense, the design of the in-between spaces can become a tool for active open-endedness, and allow the city to be expandable within itself. To be a careful designer of new architectural objects is essential, but to be aware of what they do to the forever-changing city around them is imperative.

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.