This project has achieved a balanced environmental and architectural statement through committed engagement by all stakeholders in the building design process. The client�s utilization of a �build design contract� is underpinned by a focused briefing and assessment process. The building design and execution is holistic and measured, achieving controlled energy conservation and user comfort. The confidence expressed by the client and contractor in the initial design proposals have been justified by the completed project.
Designed by ABK Architects, accessibility and the principles of universal design were evidently well considered. A diligent philosophy not to differentiate and separate all users has been employed throughout in addressing issues of external approach, reception, way finding and the overall internal environment. Bright �white� finishes of most surfaces create a calm environment but may impede differentiation. This minor comment, however, is not to take away from a building that is a fine example of what is truly meant by an accessible environment.
The three facades of the existing City Hall provide independent access to a variety of civic functions: a concert hall accessed through the north fa�ade facing the River Lee, a Lecture Hall accessed from the east, and the Council Chamber entered from the west. Architects proposal was to �reveal� the fourth, �back-stage� elevation as the new administrative entrance to the civic complex.
The project is structured around two dramatic spaces: a narrow Stair Hall, formed between the exposed �fourth fa�ade� of the City Hall and the new building, and a top-lit Civic Hall.
The Civic Hall, conceived as a public room for Cork City, and generated from an existing diagonal public route across the site, is of a scale commensurate with the existing Concert Hall and St. Finbarr�s Cathedral.
The Stair Hall, separated from the public atrium at ground floor by an enfilade of glazed meeting rooms, contains the principle vertical circulation. This hall acts as the principle orientating space for staff.
The solid, �masonry� element is conceived of as a carved volume, eroded in response to the adjacent City Hall and city edge condition. It fulfils the function of a �service block�, containing the principal support for both the existing City Hall and the glass volume.