GKMP Architects: The 13th Century Castle, dominates the mediaeval city, standing on a strategic height commanding the crossing of the River Nore. The Parade connects the Castle to High Street and is the most significant urban space in the city. It rises towards the Castle entrance and is bordered by Georgian facades and mature trees. The Canal Walk connects along the river connects the Castle grounds to Canal Square.
The symbolic importance of these urban spaces was no longer matched by their physical reality. The project seeks to understand these underused public spaces, unify them as a continuous condition in which old and new elements and materials meet to accommodate the scale of the individual experience and the life of the town. The approach gives precedence both to the strength of the historical context and to the public use of these spaces; offering specific areas to walk, sit, gather and assemble, it restores their potential to be the civic meeting places for the city.
The Parade is cleared of car parking and unified by a continuous stone floor where geometry derives from the built context. A wide strip of coloured marble delineates the separation between the pedestrian area and the narrowed roadway. The pedestrian area is paved in large granite slabs and is traversed by alternating lines of drainage channels and strips of light. A series of large benches adapt themselves to the slope. The roadway is paved in smaller granite pavers to slow the traffic. This enables the space to be closed off and used for a single purpose on special occasions. The Gravel Walk, inside the trees on the Parade, is restored using a silvered compacted gravel with a pathway of granite The 1960s toilet block is removed to reinstate the view along the 17th century Rose Garden wall. A new kiosk building accommodates a vending area, warden’s office, public toilets and tourist information. Canal Square is pedestrianized in granite and an existing substation is surrounded by a new precast concrete fence. The surface of the Canal Walk is replaced with polished concrete with granite cross strips. A very light stainless steel railing to open up views of the Nore.
Project: Common Ground | Landscaping of The Parade, Canal Walk and Canal Square, Kilkenny
Architects: GKMP Architects
Location: Waterford Viking Triangle, Waterford City, Ireland Design year: 1999-2009
Year of construction: 2008-2009
Image credits: photography by Alice Clancy, drawings by GKMP Architects