Morrison’s Island, Cork

This proposal seeks to unlock opportunity and potential, advance knowledge, and develop collaborative expertise across architecture, engineering and landscape design through an integrated design solution that is specific to Cork City. The proposal makes informed reference to the past (the working of historic space in Cork and its material quality), combined with due consideration of the needs of the future (climate change, social and economic development).

The proposal sets out a number of key strategic moves from the outset in order to define and establish the distinctive character of Morrison’s Island as a porous piece of city in the context of re-ordering movement of pedestrians, vehicles and boats as well as careful management of surface water and flood mitigation:

A cross-network of shared surface paths and routes are reinstated throughout the island to make it more permeable and enjoyable to those traversing the island. A series of surprising courtyards and gardens within the island are thereby awakened. Existing two-way vehicle traffic along the full length of Father Matthew Quay is reduced to one-way in order to calm movement of vehicles and to introduce a river quayside on par with those found along the River Seine in Paris city centre.

A series of low pools and bio-swales of a moderate gradient is introduced throughout the streets and lanes of the island in order to enhance stormwater infiltration and reduce surface water run-off.

Carefully selected trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses are introduced into the quaysides, lanes and streets of the island. The interstitial spaces between buildings are to be vegetated and graded to assist in stormwater mitigation. The introduced landscaping is also a reminder of the island’s original history as wetland and marsh.

A distinctive shared surface of permeable end-grain Chestnut woodblock replaces all existing concrete and asphalt pavements and road surfaces. Cork quaysides in the past such as Coal Quay and Kyrl’s Quay were originally paved with chestnut and hemlock end-grain woodblock. The immediate advantage of end-grain woodblock over an impermeable surface is that the resulting shared surface is both durable and permeable when properly constructed, and much quieter. The grain and direction of the woodblock paving are taken from the main axis of Fr. Matthew Memorial Church and Friary thereby charging the island’s paving pattern with a unique geometry.

A new universally-accessible pedestrian bridge allows for boats to pass beneath while connecting pedestrians who wish to cross the River Lee from many directions. The new weathered steel bridge is placed on the original quayside. Its welded russet-cloured construction has a folded sculptural quality that purposefully contrasts with the magnificent stereotomic stone quays beneath. A section of Union Quay where the new bridge alights to the south is proposed to be closed to vehicular traffic to form a pedestrian plaza.

A micro-network of public drinking fountains are introduced at key street and lane corners in order to enhance the quality and enjoyment of the island’s public realm spaces for Cork citizens and visitors alike.