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architecture of cork city

This topic contains 129 replies, has 37 voices, and was last updated by  njcork 2 years, 6 months ago.

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    The city possessed a fine collection of Georgian and Victorian architectural styles. Much of this is documented in the paintings of the Crawford Gallery at Emmet Place (Cork) which details a city rich in architectural belnds. Many buildings possessed a heavy Dutch and Spanish influence – as a result of maritime trading links. It is highly unfortunate that little of this exists today. However, some exceptionally stupid planning decisions didn’t help things along either.

    Some surviving examples of these styles may be seen at Emmet Place (Marble & Lemon House, Insurances House, the Crawford Gallery, Meadows & Byrne), Pope’s Quay (Cultural & Heritage/Cork 2005 House) and along Patrick’s Street and the South Mall.



    Was in Cork last week – good buzz around the place. Some pics:

    I like this group of Georgians on Bachelors Quay :) (left). Cork Georgian is completely different to Dublin. Charming staggered building line (right), with sash windows in the sides…except for the few PVCs that have got in :(


    Cork has an extraordinary architectural heritage, unlike anywhere else in the country – it never ceases to amaze me that it is not discussed on the Cork threads…
    This building on Grand Parade is described in the An Taisce Buildings at Risk list as “one of the most sophisticated urban terraced elevations in Ireland” – – but look at it now…a gaunt windowless shell acting as a car park entrance….says a lot about our attitude to our built heritage…


    I like these.….the green ‘50s shopfronts, that is :) – there’s 2 left on Oliver Plunkett Street; this and another one at the Prince’s Street junction.


    The new bridge – it’s nice.
    It’s one of those bridges that, now that it’s there, you wonder how there was never a bridge here. It’s in the right place.

    But 2 negative points:
    1. It’s got this silly green glass screen at the edge of the pavement on the south side, so that when you approach from Cornmarket, you think there’s a green gauze across the mouth of it and work is still going on…
    2. It doesn’t emerge from the stone quay wall as seamlessly as it ought.


    In Cork you still get that sense of a clean break between the city and its surrounding countryside, which has been hopelessly lost in Dublin. But the amount of traffic roaring around the city centre – it’s almost as bad as Dublin – lets you know that there must be bad sprawl and one-off housing, and huge numbers commuting in and out of the city by car.



    Was hugely impressed by Patrick Street. It is a very sophisticated repaving scheme.


    Small shops – a lot still survive in Cork. The place hasn’t been riddled with Spars ‘n Centras like Dublin.


    You still see things in Cork that you’d never see in Dublin now :) .


    This new building (right) makes a nice adjunct to the 18th century houses on Camden Quay – but the houses desperately need sash windows reinstated in them.

    While this is a good modern development, respecting the scale and character of the historic city centre, there’s some dreadful new development in Cork. Just across the river from this, on Lavitt’s Quay, a bland monstrosity has been built since last time I was there. It rudely oversails the surrounding building heights by at least 100% – a typical example of a developer going for as much as they could possibly get.


    Essential Cork townscape – the view of the terraces set into the hill above the Lower Glanmire Road as seen from the docks area. I understand the whole of the docks area is up for redevelopment, so this view will likely be lost or altered.

    There are some interesting older buildings in the docks area – warehouses in the beautiful local silvery limestone, and other structures. I hope there is a proper audit of the existing buildings and features in the docks area – if you don’t know what you have, good stuff can be lost…..and developers will try to get rid of stuff.



    Great post Devin. I too am amazed at the lack of attention the existing fabric of Cork gets on the ‘look at the state of Cork like’ thread, or on any other thread for that matter. there are some really interesting buildings throughout the city. St. Augustines church for example is remarkable in the way it just seems to appear within the streetscape.

    I can’t believe that building on Grand Parade is an entrance to a car park, and is seeming to be allowed to simply fall apart. (I hope it is not a case like the Adelphi in Dublin, where the facade is simply retained above the entrance to Arnotts car park!)

    That Buckley’s shopfront is very nice indeed. Have you ever seen Hicks Shopfront in Dun Laoghaire? I think it is a gem. Great pity to see many of these types of frontages disappear



    Thanks Phil. I don’t know St. Augustine’s but I will check it out next time I’m there – it’s unusal.
    And on French Church St., you’re walking along the narrow street with shops and suddenly the back of a huge church appears….the place has a more continental feel than other cities in Ireland.

    I saw that Hicks shopfront when I was in DL a while ago – good to see it’s still there.



    Yeah, Cork has that sort of feeling of places described by Gordon Cullen. I love the way suprises just pop up out of the urban landscape like they do there.



    Some great pics there Devin. The film? they were taken with lends them something of an 80s feel which is rather strange :)

    I must admit to the shameful crime of never having been to Cork – made it to all surrounding counties and cities, but never to the depths of Cork :(
    It’s difficult to grasp a perspective and feel for the city on the Cork thread, as isolated developments tend not to join up as it were on screen, but the pictures of streetscapes like above make it so much easier.
    Of course there’s often two sides to every urban space, and the WATSOCL thread tackles new development very well, but there’s also room for content like this.

    Aren’t the slate-hung Georgians just fantastic?! Did you manage to get any more of these on your visit Devin? The one next to the ‘Citi’ :rolleyes: car park looks wonderful next to the neighbouring red brick.
    So many regional towns & cities have that unusual type of brick arching on main facades, and on mews buildings etc – such a shame to see this example in such poor condition.

    The extent of paving on Patrick St looks very impressive; seems to be a very pedestrian friendly place.
    See what people meant on the Cork Bridges thread about the Shandon Bridge – looks a bit clunky all right!



    a nice selection of images. Scanned photos?


    Paul Clerkin

    @Devin wrote:

    Cork has an extraordinary architectural heritage, unlike anywhere else in the country – it never ceases to amaze me that it is not discussed on the Cork threads….

    because THAT THREAD is full of developer rubbish



    I know. The lack of objectivity towards new development is quite staggering at times. They* want every development to be granted exactly as it is applied for (!) and act like it’s the end of the world if a scheme is refused or goes to appeal.

    The images are scans.

    * or some of them



    Devin, isn’t that a little harsh? You’re lauding the “unique” architecture in Cork, yet to many people alot of the more unique unchanged aspects are depressingly derelict. That shop front on Castle St has it charms, but the shop itself is not great. Give me a well appointed and stocked clean Centra please.
    I think when people get excited about development in these areas they see it as a chance to change some of the downward spiral that Cork seemed to be on despite the economic upturn. That said I do agree that there’s an element that champions anything that is proposed in some of the threads which is wrong. For every bit of preserved heritage there’s lots that ain’t so great. The challenge is to recognise the distinction.



    No one’s saying Cork should remain in a time capsule. But those who want to see development happen quickly should maybe take it easy – look what happened in Dublin in the 1990s when there was a rush of inner city redevelopment ( :( ). You can already see the strains of a boom in Cork with some poor quality (and some good) development.

    I don’t really find any of Cork depressing or derilect. Actually I get the impression that it utilizes its older building stock very well and that the city connects with its people in a way that other places don’t. It would be a shame if these qualities were lost or diminished in a rush for redevelopment.


    Are the buildings in your first image not on South Mall? Like the Grand Parade building, it’s sad what can happen to beautiful historic buildings.



    @Devin wrote:

    Are the buildings in your first image not on South Mall? Like the Grand Parade building, it’s sad what can happen to beautiful historic buildings.

    No these are on Parnell Place. I saw them the other day. I agree that this form of ‘urban taxidermy’ is very unfortunate.



    @Paul Clerkin wrote:

    because THAT THREAD is full of developer rubbish

    first off, great pics devin – some nice visuals there (including the girls in pic 2!!! :D – what an eye!) but i think that comment up above isnt quite unfair. besides the fact that the thread has become a valuable resource to some in the city and dont see why der cant be 2 sides to the coin. if the look at…cork thread is developerish so be it. this seems like a nice oul thread to start talkin about the other side of things so why not go for it??? live and let live. its up 2 da people involved i say to make it work and if it doesnt theres noone to blame but themselves. also i think the look at cork thread has be very good at gettin people for all areas of the field of new buildings interestd in not only this website but also corks architecture and progress and history and stuff. i used to read this website since early 2002 (many a year before i delurked) and cork didnt get half the mention it does now which was a shame cos the whole country has so much to offer not just dublin.

    i see the popularity of the look at cork thread as a very positive thing and should be proud that its has such a success on its hands. just look at the google rating for mention of the topics in it, its brillient!

    it also seems to have got people really interested in wats goin on in cork and if ders bias here and there well every1 has an = opportunity to voice their opinion and tackle an issue. i dont agree with everything on it either but tis great to see the vast info there. and also i think it gets people excited to see opportunities to embrace modern architecture in a city that never enjoyed the same movement as places like dublin. so relax – let that thread do its thing and lets give this thread a nice shot at the otherside of things!!!!!

    (i never had me one for diplomacy! think i see a pig flyin passed me window!) :D



    I don’t remember starting this thread – the first post is a reply to one of Boyler’s posts.

    Anyhow, I think some of the sentiment expressed in this thread so far is not a good place to be in. I am most disappointed by one particular comment, as I hold a high opinion of the poster. I entirely accept the heavy developer content of the LADSOCL thread and I’m afraid I don’t accept the logic used to dispute against it. The thread is open to all and to all opinions. For example, snoopdog recently argued against the opinions of those expressed on the thread regarding a development, and I was delighted to see the contrast. Of course I’ll argue my position, but that’s good debate. As far as I’m concerned, and I have consistently expressed this, development must be

    a.) sustainable
    b.) aesthetically complimentary
    c.) progressive

    I have ALWAYS expressed the need for good design, and often, we don’t get it – but when we do, it should be recognised. Architecture is the language that defines urban spaces – good and/or bad. Development is the vessel which speaks this language. Like any language, sometimes it is ill-spoken, other times its is graceful. My support for certain developments is incorporated into a bigger picture for an area or plot. Critiques against say, as Devin pointed out, 21 Lavitts Quay, cannot be made with considering the following:

    a.) what stood there before?
    b.) how does it fit into the strategic vision of the area?
    c.) what is the bigger picture/strategic vision?
    d.) what is being lost/gained?

    If those 4 questions can be answered by its critics, I accept.

    Oddly, much of what was crtiqued before or at proposal (City Quarter for example) is now praised by its once critics – note the website’s comments on CQ – then contrast those comments of the CSD members at the time of proposal.

    The thread (noe I) also does/do NOT endorse EVERY development – please review its posts. On many occassions conditions of grant or refusal has been praised (i.e. Grangefield’s Arbutus Lodge development; Mark Kelleher’s conditioning re: resident objection on balconies; the original Mannix proposal; BrideView’s LakeView development; Ruden Homes’ Lenagh More development; SHUL’s Tellenganna Lodge development etc etc). It’s not all pro pro pro. But it does stress that developments as well as objections must be scrutinised/well-informed before submitted. It can’t all be one-sided. Besides my odd banter, more and more (I from my stance) have tried to reduced ‘opinion’ and keep it more of a sort of ‘reporting’ style posts – simply to inform. But opinion is opinion and as has been expressed here by many, each individual is entitled to it.

    Furthermore, the thread, is always open to input – if one element is less successful over another – that is the responsibility of those involved – not the collective. I have, for example, attempted to set up other threads such as ‘Interesting Lesser Knowns’ to balance and embrace the existing nature and designs of buildings throughout Cork (from all walks of life) and, with Thomond Park, a thread on the Footbridges of Cork to assess that side of architecture. This was to show input into these fields and perhaps provide balance to the LADSOCL thread.

    However, I am glad that this thread has been appointed, because the opportunity should now be utilised to continue embracing this aspect of architecture in the city. There is a rich mix and it should be recognised. I’m glad Devin has provided such a great post and I would hope, from my perspective, others (myself included) could continue this quality standard. LADSOCL is not the ONLY Cork-thread, so I suppose it should not be referred to as, ‘the Cork thread’. Many others have provided wonderful threads around various aspects of the city and county and this should be recognised. I don’t see why both sides of the coin (as pier39 above puts it, cannot be embraced. As I said, both sides affect the architecture and nature of the city – and both need to be addressed.

    I should hope that this thread doesn’t become a spat ground and we can continue to move with the good foundations laid by it already.

    And as by way of interest, the Buckley Bros. facade is be remodelled by proprietor Edward Moriarty, which is a great shame. I had been hoping it would rather be refurbished.

    As for the facades on Parnell Place, both are protected but have been inexcusablly allowed to decay by both the site owners and by Cork City Council. Plans are in planning to refurbished these facades to their former glory as a front for a very tasteful hotel, as the site behind them is nothing more than vacant space and any further delays may see the facades lost for good.



    It’s very disappointing to learn that the Buckley’s shopfront is to be remodelled. It’s very distinctive and a lot more interesting than the twee reproduction shopfronts that are being encouraged by the corporation.

    My own view on development in Cork is that there should be a line drawn through the city centre at Parnell Place. There are few old buildings of merit east of that line – perhaps the harbour commissioners offices and a few warehouses. It can support larger developments along the lines of Lapp’s Quay. West of it is a more sensitive area that should be reserved for refurbishments and infills with the exception of a few sites that are suitable for development – Guys, anything that hides the North Main St multi-storey.

    Looking at the pictures of the houses on Grenville Place (Bachelor’s Quay) could make you fearful for the future. The houses are definitely in need of some TLC, and it would be tragic to see them becoming derelict and knocked for development. As well as their architectural merit, they also have significance because one of them was George Boole’s house.



    A few words:
    The redbrick has been a carpark entrance for years, and seems to be surviving against the odds. Which isn’t to say it will remain forever. It gets a little worse every time I visit. :(
    Graham- the slate-hung bow fronted building is one of three (I think)- one of my favourite groups in the whole country. Kinsale has even more (though not bow-fronted).
    What I’ve always liked about Cork is that it feels like a city that people actually live in. Not that it doesn’t have large suburbs, but there’s a vibrancy about the city centre that’s lacking from so much of Dublin. And hilly areas such as Sunday’s Well give the city so much of its character- some of the best city walks in Ireland are to be had in Cork.
    However, I don’t think much of Patrick Street (are only locals allowed to call it Pana?)- too fussy and too many material contrasts, though obviously an improvement on whatwent before.
    Devin- you say you hope a ‘proper audit’ of the docks buildings is done. The NIAH (where I used to work) carried out a full survey of the city centre in the late 1990s, but with characteristic Government dynamism I don’t think it was ever published. It did, however, get into the hands of the City council, so perhaps all is not lost?

    Also, on the subject of the churches, when I was recording for that Cork survey I ducked into the French Church for a look at the interior, where I met a homeless guy who was feeling very down, so much so that he asked me to write his suicide note as he couldn’t write. At first I refused, but he said that if I didn’t then he’d kill himself and nobody would know why (the reason, sadly but perhaps not surprisingly, was institutional abuse as a child), so I consented. I don’t think he went through with it (I got the feeling he really just wanted someone to listen) but it has stayed with me to this day.
    It made architectural recording seem very insignificant.



    Good Lord ctesiphon – well you’ve halted this thread in its tracks…
    What a difficult situation to be confronted with.
    Good on you for staying with him, most people would run a mile – though maybe not those in a church.

    For what it’s worth, it’s a beautiful building.



    Aye- sorry if I bummed anyone out, but I find it hard to think of a place without thinking of the stories that the place has generated. And I do really think he just wanted to talk, so we sat a while.

    To get the thread back on track (as maybe only the derailer can), are those green shopfronts the same as the black ones still seen in some towns? Vitrolite, I think they are, with the chrome trim. Another little-appreciated feature of the Irish town- too modern for the dyed-in-the-wool heritage-conservationist, too tatty and reminiscent of a poorer period of Irish history for the progressives.


    Paul Clerkin

    took the opportunity to split the virotlits comments into their own thread – think it could be a good discussion

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