Dermot Foley Landscape Architects design a new landscape setting for the famous Irish County Hall
The new public square is part of the second phase of a redevelopment of the site of the famous Cork County Hall. The County Hall (1968) is arguably the most important modernist building in Ireland and is now a protected structure. The new square has given the building a designed context for the first time in its history and links it to the new County Library, which was designed by Shay Cleary Architects.
The square has been designed to fit seamlessly at the base of the tower and, at the same time, ‘complete’ the architecture of the new library. The landscape at ground level is, in fact, the roof of the the lower-ground floor of the library. In addition, two sunken courtyards are carved out of the lower-ground floor to allow sunlight into the building and break-out space for staff. The courtyards are paved with aluminium decks and planted with large trees, the roots of which are housed under shallow pools of reflecting water. The main square at ground floor level is populated with bespoke, bead-blasted, stainless steel benches, planters and ventilation grills, all arranged on a precise grid derived from the dimensions of the granite paving.
Technical constraints faced by the landscape architects included the provision of fire tender access, mobile library access, ventilation from lower-ground floor, very tight construction tolerenaces, flood alleviation and the requirement to tie the project in with an earlier phase of development. The landscape architects’ aspiration, from the start of the design process, was to achieve an abstract, sculptural quality for the space which would compliment the style of the County Hall and help integrate the new Library.