From a family to a parish to an entire town, there will be triple celebrations in Cork this weekend as three designs in the Rebel County have come out tops at the prestigious Irish Architecture Awards.
A purpose-built office at the end of a garden, the Honan Chapel at University College Cork and the entire town of Cobh were winners at the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) awards.
The prizes, presented annually, acknowledge achievements in architecture and celebrate the quality of work carried out by RIAI members and the contribution registered architects make to the built environment.
The RIAI announced 18 winners across 13 categories, in a ceremony at the Museum of Literature Ireland on Thursday evening.
The Honan Chapel conservation project, by FMP Architects, took gold in the adaptation and re-use category.
It also won the top award in the climate change category, with the jury deeming the project a “testament to the wealth of exceptional craftsmanship and conservation skills that can be found in Ireland today”.
“Once again, the awards showcased architects’ commitment to climate change as seen by the strong competition within the competitive adaptation and reuse of our existing buildings award,” said Charlotte Sheridan, RIAI president.
Cobh’s “people first” collaborative approach to urban design ensured it won its place on the podium in the Urban Design and Master Planning category for projects in by Cork County Council, Capital Projects Department.
The other winner in this category was the Ramelton, Co Donegal, project by Dedalus Architecture.
The plans drawn up by Cork County Council to enhance the design of Cobh town centre also won second prize in the prestigious RIAI Public Choice Awards.
Cobh's design aims to make the town centre more pedestrian-friendly and inclusive, introducing greener streets with more than 80 new trees, a new park, rainwater garden and sustainable urban drainage to bolster biodiversity.
The urban plan frees up space for outdoor events, and includes 50% more seating as well as spaces for more than 200 bicycles.
Cork County Council worked closely with the local community to design what it describes as "a holistic vision for Cobh that promotes compact growth within the town centre".
The RIAI hailed the design for Cobh as an “exemplar” in creating sustainable communities.
It added that the project highlights the important role that architects in local authorities play in the creation of desirable and attractive town centres.
The mayor of the county of Cork, Cllr Danny Collins, said, “These are wonderful awards for the town of Cobh. In particular, it is an honour to be chosen by the public as one of the top two architectural projects in the country.
“The award-winning design is a result of huge collaboration between the different departments within Cork County Council, elected members, external stakeholders, specialist consultants and most importantly, the local community. These exciting plans for the town centre are about breathing additional life into Cobh and creating a more attractive place to live, work, visit and invest.”
The chief executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey, added, “It is a considerable achievement to win both a judges’ award and to be rated so highly by the public in a national competition."
Simply Architecture in Douglas, Cork, owned by Gareth Sullivan, won a Workplace and Fit-Out award.
It had illustrious companions in the category, the other two winners being Bottleworks by Henry J Lyons, in Dublin, and Le Cheile Education Centre by Taka Architects.
The jury deemed the Douglas garden room office, created by Mr Sullivan during pandemic lockdowns, to be “inspiring”.
“This project tackled head-on the challenge of working from home doing so in a restrained and appealing way. The design blends workplace and home in a seamless manner,” said the RIAI.
A fourth shortlisted Cork project, Horgan’s Quay, phase one, by O'Mahony Pike Architects, received a commended award.
In the Sustainability category, the award was given to The Marshall Building, London School of Economics and Political Science by Grafton Architects and to The Willows, a house by Peter Nickels Architects.
The winner of the Public Choice award was 10-12 Hanover Quay, Dublin Docklands, by O'Mahony Pike Architects and Mola Architecture.
Shortlisted entrants were located in Cork, Carlow, Donegal, Dublin, Wicklow, Kilkenny, Meath and Westmeath, as well as internationally in London and Liverpool, UK, and Chicago, USA.
Ms Sheridan added: “The quality of the entrants was of the highest standard with the projects delivered across all categories exemplary in their areas. Irish architects are amongst the best in the world, helping to solve complex societal problems such as climate change and transforming our public spaces into wonderful places to work and live."
This year’s awards also recognised Annesley Gardens by Metropolitan Workshop and Middleton Park Gate Lodge by Taka Architects in the highly competitive Living category. Le Fanu Skate-BMX and Play Park in Ballyfermot by Enriqueta Llabres Valls took home the award for Public Space in recognition of an exemplary project which strongly demonstrates active public space for all ages.
The award for Wellbeing was given to the National Forensic Mental Health Service in Portrane by Scott Tallon Walker Architects in association with Medical Architecture.
The award for Universal Design — supported by the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design — went to India Buildings in Liverpool by Falconer Chester Hall.
The Castletymon Library by Henchion + Reuter Architects won the Cultural/Public Buildings; the International Award — supported by Enterprise Ireland — went to The Marshall Building, London School of Economics and Political Science by Grafton Architects; the Ratoath College Extension by McGarry Ní Éanaigh Architects won the top award for Learning Environments. In the Research category, Restorative Practice by Denise Murray in association with CoLab was crowned overall winner.
For full award details see www.riai.ie