This project, submitted for planning in February 2022, creatively combines the dual brief of providing 12 social housing apartments with a ground floor cultural venue and café located in Galway’s historic city core. The northern face of the building addresses a prominent corner within the tight urban environment that reflects the historic medieval street pattern. A generous picture window, associated with the cafe and cultural venue, is proposed at this urban node framing the activity within and enlivening the pedestrian’s experience of the city.
The project is conceived as two urban blocks that meet at a subtle shift in the alignment of the existing street frontage, contributing to the rhythm of the street and the historical narrow plot width defined by existing terraced housing. A generous opening at the meeting point of these two urban blocks announces the public entrance to the cultural venue and café. The proportions of this gateway reference historic laneways in the city core and the open–air entrances to Pálás cinema further down the street. An external courtyard space is framed at ground floor with a simple roof providing shelter and clerestory light. On the floors above, this incision in the plan permits light into the apartments on this tight urban infill site.
The varied uses of building stone throughout Galway City display a variety of textures and fossils that reflect their geological origins and the importance of stone as a traditional and decorative building material. Acknowledging this tradition, the base of the building is clad in a hewn limestone, uniting the public functions of the café and cultural venue. A traditional napp finish is applied to the upper floors, a slight change in colour and texture demarcating the two urban blocks. The residential core registers within the fissure where the two blocks join, emerging as a metal–clad element at roof level that provides resident access to roof terraces.