Waterford Viking Triangle

GKMP Architects: The project comprises the reconfiguration of the urban spaces in the Waterford Viking Triangle one of the oldest and most significant urban quarters in the country. Its public buildings and historical monuments give a strong physical and symbolic importance to these urban spaces. However, the poor quality of the public domain in terms of landscaping, street furniture, signage and services were all damaging and undermining the architectural, historical and civic identity. It had become a place for cars rather than for people.

The project seeks to understand the underused public spaces of the Triangle, unify them and to consolidate their public function as civic meeting places for the city. The project is a constructed landscape; it makes background rather than building-as-object, a continuous condition in which old and new elements and materials combine to underscore diverse individual and collective inhabitation. Though specific in context, place and materials, the project is characterised by a positive uncertainty with regard to use. Its emptiness assumes change, across a season or a century. It is a robust stage set for an unknown play.

There are four principal public spaces within the Triangle. The first is at Reginald’s Tower, where the demolition of the 1960s office building makes a new entrance space for the area. The existing granite treatment around the Tower is extended to make space for the Viking Longboat during the summer months. Moving up Bailey’s New Street, the next space is Friary Square where the removal of the parking and railings enables the making of a generous area for street activities and events. The area is paved in large granite slabs, making a light-coloured surface and one long granite bench against the walls of the Friary.

Cathedral Square forms the centre-piece of the Triangle. To this end the trees have been removed from along the Cathedral façade and a line of benches is made along the northern edge. This has the effect of giving a degree of protection to the buildings on the northern side and allowing activities to happen in the Square without having a detrimental effect on these residences. A new limestone platform is made to the Deanery frontage with a terrace, steps and access ramp. Bishop’s Palace Square is of particular importance as a gateway to the Viking Triangle from The Mall. A new limestone terrace is constructed at the eastern end of the Bishop’s Palace that acts as an animated space. This space is raised to the level of the Bishop’s Palace and has public seating as well as terrace space for the Museum Café.

Basic Data

Project: Waterford Viking Triangle
Architects: GKMP Architects
Location: Waterford Viking Triangle, Waterford City, Ireland
Design year: 2012-2013
Year of construction: 2013-2014
Area: 4,032 sq.m
Image credits: photography by Alice Clancy, drawings by GKMP Architects