• Thursday , 12 December 2019

Morrison’s Island International Design Competition

Registered architects, landscape architects and engineers were invited to participate in a design research competition to propose innovative and considered solutions for the renewal of Cork city’s quayside landscape. Participants were asked to engage with other professional disciplines, artists or art organisations, local community groups and citizens as part of their design process.

The purpose of this competition is to unlock opportunity and potential, advance knowledge, and develop collaborative expertise across architecture, engineering and landscape design through integrated design solutions that are specific to Cork city. It is hoped that the outputs of this process will contribute towards the city’s future strategy for the quays. Innovative solutions cannot be generated without 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).

For the competition participants were asked to:
– Re-imagine and renew the public space at  Fr. Mathew and Morrison’s Quay in Cork City, Ireland

– Design a new pedestrian bridge to replace the existing Trinity bridge at Morrison’s Quay

– Reveal the beauty of the Historic Quays: Fr. Mathew Quay and Morrison’s Quay

– Enhance and develop the city’s relationship with the river Lee in order promote and encourage riverine activities such as trade, tourism, sport and leisure.

Yvonne Farrell – Architect, Grafton  Architects  – Jury Chairperson
James Howley – Conservation Architect, Howley Hayes Architects
Siobhán Ní Éanaigh – Architect, McGarry Ní Éanaigh Architects
Tim Lucas – Structural Engineer, Pryce Myers Engineers, UK
Eilís O’ Connell – Artist & Sculptor
Eoin O’ Mahoney – Butcher, The English Market. Client Representative.


1st Place

HH+ and Francis Keane Architect

2nd Place

A2 Architects

3rd Place

GKMP Architects

There were 55 registered entries for the Morrison’s Island International Design Competition.  Registered entries were received from the US, Canada, UK, Finland, Norway, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, The United Arab Emirates, Greece and Ireland.

Project Statement from HH+ and Francis Keane Architect

Principally amongst our ambitions will be to create an exciting new waterfront. The method for doing so is understood as a series of clearly legible steps. Through these steps, as set out below, we would like to provide a catalyst for a wider attitude towards the Lee, and close the gap between Cork’s history and it’s aspirations for the future. We have looked for clues from the periods when Cork was most engaged with the river to help inform our approach. Our interventions will occur in the public realm and will belong to the city. In order to bring the quays back into the foreground, our interventions will not be loud and competitive, but binding and regenerative.

(A) Analyse the current situation at a city scale and anticipatefuture routes, amenities and developments.
(B) Reroute vehicular traffic and reduce parking, and thereby improve the environment for pedestrians and cyclists.
(C) Remove timber mooring uprights and salvage for reuse along a new landscaped promenade.
(D) Strip quays back to sound base, to reveal the full quality of the underlying stonework.
(E) Add two new wooden foot bridges to align with key routes.
(F) Celebrate the quay by introducing a new landscaped promenade.
(G) Activate the river and facilitate it’s usage with a new lightweight pavilion.
(H) Suggest opportunities for public art works and other forms of urban nourishment.

Jury Comments

The jury commended the skill of this submission to evaluate and incorporate specific local characteristics, making proposals which deal with the serious issue of flood risk while at the same time creating an attractive and interesting environment for the public to enjoy. This scheme was valued for its ability to respond to the urban conditions of this part of the city, focusing on the quayside as the principal asset, while recognising and noting that the limestone of the quayside is never in shadow. The proposal describes the quays as … “a threshold, fully engaged in a transition from sea to river, to land and city.” The proposal ‘peels away’ layers which have obscured the historic craft of the stonework of the quays, and by positioning retractable flood barriers set back from the existing quays, allows for the preservation and presentation of the historic river edges.

The existing pedestrian bridge, situated uncomfortably on the bend in the river, is replaced by two new timber pedestrian bridges. One of these is located close to Holy Trinity Church and Father Mathew Street, linking George’s Quay directly to the South Mall, while the other connects Morrison’s Quay to Union Quay. These two bridges provide new vantage points looking up and down each of their respective stretches ofthe river, at the same time providing a new web of connections which will enliven the areas around in new ways. By removing the existing pedestrian bridge, this submission proposes a new landscaped and seating area at the ‘prow’ of the quayside, providing a new, less congested area to be enjoyed by pedestrians, while enhancing the setting of the adjoining buildings. A new multi-purpose pontoon on the river along Morrison’s Quay provides the general public with public space located down close to the water. The intention of this intervention is to create an exciting new waterfront amenity. The historic crafted limestone of the quayside is revealed; bollards are placed on doweled steel plates so as to be raised above the original stone; while a resin-bound gravel pathway, bordered by cobblestones echoing original historic finishes, forms a new quayside promenade.

This proposal is a well-judged, finely detailed proposition for this important quayside location.


A major exhibition will take place in the city in the coming weeks to showcase the entries. As part of the exhibition a book will be launched on the competition. In addition, a Cork filmmaker will premier a short film which documents the history of Morrison’s Island and its significance in the city.

Related Posts