Additional reporting by Eoin English
A major design competition has been launched for the near €2m redevelopment of an historic park in the heart of Cork city.
The architectural and landscape design competition to reimagine Bishop Lucey Park between Grand Parade and South Main Street comes with a €30,000 prize fund.
It is being promoted by Cork City Council and is being organised by the Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland.
The council says the redevelopment of the park for the 21st century is a key element in the development of the city’s core.
They said they hope the competition will improve the park’s functionality and usability as a “soft space” while at the same time respecting its history and heritage. The park includes the exposed remains of the medieval city wall.
“The park also has a very well-connected relationship with adjoining and nearby streets and lanes, acting as a critical link between wider hierarchies of public routes,” the documents say.
“It serves the people working within the city, and an increasing number of tourists, as well as the development of the adjacent multi-use site on the former Beamish and Crawford site.”
Student apartments are being built on the site which is also earmarked for the near €90m 6,000-capacity events centre.
A separate tender process was announced just before Christmas seeking contractors to revamp the streets in and around that city zone - including South Main Street, Tuckey Street, Proby’s Quay and Crosses Green along with the construction of two new pedestrian bridges to the former brewery site.
Bishop Lucey Park is a former urban block which formed an historic link between the city’s medieval period and its urban expansion eastwards in the 18th century.
But by the early 1980s, the block was deemed partially derelict and it was designated as a city park space.
The 150m x 50m park was opened in 1985 and named after Bishop Cornelius Lucey, who served the diocese of Cork from 1945 to 1983.
It is bordered by a low wall and fencing but competition entrants have been asked to consider the interface between the site and the public realm on Tuckey Street, South Main Street and Grand Parade, including consideration of the potential relocation of the existing coffee pod.
They have also been asked to consider how the owners of buildings which surround the park and which have bars and cafes might have an opportunity to engage with the park, with seats and tables “creating more vibrancy”.
City Hall said the junction of the park with Tuckey Street and the Grand Parade, as the main entry point to the park, could be the focus of many events and activities including performances, fairs, temporary installations of public art and exhibitions.
An eight-person judging panel, including international assessor David Prichard of London’s Metropolitan Workshop, has been established and it is hoped that the winning design will be announced in April.