Innovative urban design process unveiled for Diageo site in Kilkenny

KILKENNY is leading the way in urban design in Ireland with a ground-breaking new approach to the development of a prime 12-acre site in the centre of the city.

KILKENNY is leading the way in urban design in Ireland with a ground-breaking new approach to the development of a prime 12-acre site in the centre of the city.

The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland, (RIAI) and Kilkenny County &Borough Council’s have joined in pioneering an innovative urban design process for theDiageo/Smithwick’s Brewery site which will become vacant later this year. The historic site, at St Francis Abbey, offers one of the most attractive development opportunities in the country.

Supported by the Departments of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht under the Government’s Policy on Architecture 2009-2015, the process involves eleven of Irelands leading architects, along with planning, engineering and property advisors. They have come up with a number of visionary design and development plans for the site which will be unveiled in Kilkenny Castle today, (Thursday May 2th).The report and the presentations will be considered by local elected representatives in the coming months as part of the preparation of the new Development Plan for Kilkenny City & County.

Architects involved in the process and presenting at Kilkenny Castle today include:

Seán Harrington, principal of Seán Harrington Architects.Tony Reddy, Chairman of international design firm Reddy Architecture & Urbanism.Martin Colreavy, principal advisor for built heritage and architectural policy at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, with responsibility for the new Government Policy on Architecture 2009- 2015.ames Pike, Director O’Mahony Pike Architects.Shelley McNamara, co-founder of Grafton Architects.

Under the internationally recognised approach, adopted for the first time in Ireland, the architects looked at the development potential of the site taking into consideration the city in its totality, including its economy, history and demographics, to ensure that the development of the site delivers the best design solutions.

The experts conducted a site visit in December 2012, and came up with different design approaches and philosophies which have been compiled into a comprehensive report.

The Smithwick’s brewery has operated at the site for over 300 years. Diageo plans toclose the facility later this year to centralise its beer production at new facilities in St James’s Gate, Dublin.

Speaking at the launch of the development plans in Kilkenny today RIAI President, Michelle Fagan, said the new process is very exciting and a first in Ireland.

“This new process, which is internationally recognised, ensures that the development of the site delivers the maximum return for the city, not just in economic terms but as a long term sustainable addition to the city for generations to come. The objective is to look at a city quarter or town in its totality – by examining the historic development of the city and understanding the current challenges, economic and demographic in order to put forward high level usage.” she said. Martin Colreavy, Principal Advisor at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaelteacht, noted that one of the key aims of the Government Policy in Architecture is toencourage innovative approaches to high quality urban design.

“Kilkenny is a special place and the Diageo/Smithwick’s site is of special importance. The new design enabling process piloted in Kilkenny will be of interest and value for the design of important sites across the country”.

Joe Crockett, Kilkenny County and City Manager, said the site represents a greatdevelopment opportunity.

“The highest design principles are appropriate for what is the perfect development site with some 12 acres in total at the centre of one of Ireland’s best cities. We are very excited about this new design approach and are confident that this site will attract high level business and development to Kilkenny.

He added: “Kilkenny is a place where world-class business thrives and is one of the most attractive cities in Ireland in which to do business due to its connectivity, quality of life and high calibre workforce. It is only just over an hour from Dublin Airport and home to Ireland’s closest deepwater port to Europe. Under the Invest Kilkenny project we have been promoting the city as a great place to do business.”

Kilkenny Mayor, Seán Ó hArgáin, said: “Smithwick’s has been part of Kilkenny for generations and this new process will help us to get great design solutions which will be right for generations to come”.

Public Consultation:

The RIAI report and presentations of the architects will be available online for publicconsultation and comment here
The report and the presentations will be considered by local elected representatives as part of the preparation of the new Development Plan for Kilkenny City & County.