National architecture awards turn spotlight on Cork

Eve Kelliher looks at the world of art, architecture and interiors.

National architecture awards turn spotlight on Cork

Eve Kelliher looks at the world of art, architecture and interiors.

A STROLL through Cork city centre will show you how its streetscape has been transformed utterly — and largely for the better — over the past couple of decades or so.

Now it’s looking like architects based in the city might just be in a position to pave those same streets in gold medals and paper the walls of Cork buildings in certificates of excellence.

Cork’s flair for snazzy and sustainable design propelled it centre stage last weekend, as it took home no fewer than five of the coveted top awards at the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) Architectural Awards on Friday.

Now marking the 30th year of its prestigious awards, the RIAI announced 22 winners across 14 categories. A record number of entries were received this year, according to Carole Pollard, chair of the jury.

The shortlist was made up of exceptional projects, including residential homes, commercial spaces, schools, healthcare facilities, heritage locations and public spaces. All projects on the shortlist were designed by RIAI-registered architects and were completed in 2018.

Cork architects won gongs for innovation, practical living considerations and even wellbeing. So what’s the secret to their success? Award winner Gareth Sullivan of Simply Architecture credited “fantastic clients and local contractors” for helping turn architects’ designs into reality.

“Having started our practice at the most challenging of times in the recession we have always remained true to our values of good well-considered design and this makes the award even more special,” he said.

Sunday’s Well Houses: Designed by O’Donnell + Tuomey.
Sunday’s Well Houses: Designed by O’Donnell + Tuomey.

The five Cork winners’ projects — Sunday’s Well Houses; Cork Criminal Courthouse; Cavanagh Bridge, UCC; Bon Secours Care Village; and Simply Architecture — are described in detail below and you can also see the full list of winners on this page.

Sunday’s Well Houses

Designed by O’Donnell + Tuomey, Sunday’s Well Houses scooped the award for Living. These two houses are located on a south-facing steeply sloping site. The dramatically different levels of the site, between the tight city grain at street level and the wide-open character of the Lee valley, provide a variety of contrasting urban and landscape conditions.

Cork Criminal Courthouse

Cork Criminal Courthouse took home the award for Innovation. The courthouse was designed by OPW Architects, Wilson Architects and Bluett O’Donoghue. Criminal court sittings were moved to this new facility from the existing 19th-century building.

“The decision to move criminal court functions to a new building constructed in the former playground to the rear of the 19th-century model school has meant a significant improvement in court administration and it has also brought life to this area of the city centre,” said the RIAI judges.

Award winner: Cork Criminal Courthouse.
Award winner: Cork Criminal Courthouse.

Cavanagh Bridge, UCC

Cavanagh Bridge, UCC, won the Public Space category. The bridge was designed by O’Donnell + Tuomey architects. The Cavanagh pedestrian bridge and riverside walk acts as a crucial link in the chain of connection between the UCC campus core and the Western Road.

It opens up a new entrance to the university from the north city area. It makes the green space, known as Perrott’s Inch, along the river available for use by the campus community and members of the public. “The bridge is designed to be a long-lasting structure, elegant in its outline, crafted in its detail and integrated with its landscape setting,” said the judges.

Bon Secours Care Village

The expansion at Bon Secours Care Village took home the award for Wellbeing. The Expansion was designed by O’Connell Mahon Architects. Expanding an existing building of outstanding quality on a steeply sloped site presented a unique challenge, requiring careful consideration of complex geometries.

“The primary design driver was the creation of residential accommodation that is compassionate to the needs of residents, as well as providing communal spaces to encourage the best possible quality of life,” according to the jury.

Simply Architecture

The Future Award (Best new emerging practice) went to Simply Architecture, founded by Gareth Sullivan. The progressive architect practice based in Cork City specialises in well-crafted bespoke projects. Simply Architecture enjoyed double celebrations over the past week as it also scooped two Isover awards the previous day, being named overall Isover winner and Isover Designer of the Year 2019.


Workplace and Fit-Out New Build Workplace

Winner: 13-18 City Quay, Grant Thornton HQ, Dublin

Architects: Henry J Lyons Architects

Client: Target Investment Opportunities Ltd

New Build Workplace

Winner: Gardens International – The Hanging Gardens, Limerick

Architects: Carr Cotter Naessens and Denis Byrne

Client: Limerick 2030

Workplace Fit-Out

Winner: PI (restaurant), Dublin

Architects: Luca Architecture

Client: John Savage

Adaptation and Reuse

Winner: Goethe-Institut Irland, Dublin; Extension and Refurbishment of 37 Merrion Square

Architects: Henchion Reuter Architects with Shaffrey Architects

Client: Bundesamt für Bauwesen und Raumordnung


Winner: City Assembly House

Architects: Consarc Design Group Ltd.

Client: Irish Georgian Society


Winner: Killyon Church, Enfield, Co Meath

Architects: PG Architects

Client: Fr Michael Kilmartin, PP

Cultural/Public Buildings

Winner: Pálás, Galway

Architects: de Paor Architects

Clients: Solas/Element Pictures Ltd

Learning Environments

Winner: Confucius Institute for Ireland, Dublin

Architects: Robin Lee Architecture and Arthur Gibney & Partners

Client: University College Dublin, Confucius Institute

Winner: Small Works, Belvedere College, Dublin

Architects: TAKA Architects

Client: Belvedere College SJ


Winner: Expansion at Bon Secours Care Village, Cork

Architects: O’Connell Mahon Architects

Client: Bon Secours Health System

Living – One-off Houses

Winner: Sunday’s Well Houses, Cork

Architects: O’Donnell + Tuomey

Client: Trish Kearney, Tom Murphy and Siun and Peter Kearney

Winner: Ash House, Co Dublin

Architects: Sketch Architects

Client: Private

Living – Extension/Refurbishment

Winner: Vavasour Square, Dublin

Architects: GKMP Architects

Client: Nicky and Darren Cran

Winner: Addition and Renovation to a Victorian Family House, Dublin

Architects: Clancy Moore Architects

Client: Private Dublin

Living – Housing Schemes

Winner: George’s Place, Dún Laoghaire

Architects: DLR Architects and A2 Architects

Client: Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council


Winner: Mapleton Crescent, London

Architects: Metropolitan Workshop LLP

Client: Pocket Living

Public Space

Winner: Cavanagh Bridge, UCC

Architects: O’Donnell + Tuomey

Client: University College Cork


Winner: The Living Light

Architect: Noreile Breen

The Future Award

Winner: Simply Architecture, Cork


Winner: Cork Criminal Courthouse

Architects: DLR Architects, OPW Architects, Wilson Architecture, Bluett O’Donoghue

Client: Courts Service

Building for All – Universal Design

Winner: Brickworks, London

Architects: Brady Mallalieu Architects

Clients: Islington Council


Winner: George’s Place, Dún Laoghaire

Architects: DLR Architects and A2 Architects

Client: Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council

Public Choice Award: An Ríocht Scoil Chríost Rí, Boys National School, Caherdavin

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