Design Competition: Morrison’s Island, Cork City

Registered architects, landscape architects and engineers are invited to take part in a design competition to propose innovative and considered solutions for the renewal of Cork city’s quayside landscape. Participants are encouraged to collaborate with other professional disciplines, historians, craftspeople and artists. The competition aims to explore the authentic spatial and material quality of the city that has been lost in recent times and engage with the remaining historic fabric.

For the competition participants are asked to:

  1. Re-imagine and renew the public space at Fr. Mathew and Morrison’s Quay in Cork City, Ireland
  2. Design a new pedestrian bridge to replace the existing Trinity Bridge at Morrison’s Quay
  3. Reveal the historic beauty and material quality of the Historic Quays: Fr. Mathew Quay and Morrison’s Quay
  4. Enhance and develop the city’s relationship with the river Lee in order promote and encourage and reference river activities such as trade, tourism, community activity, sport and leisure

The impetus for the competition is a response to the “Lower Lee (Cork City) Flood Relief Scheme” proposed for Cork city. This scheme is based on a defensive approach to flood relief include building new walls (mostly reinforced concrete) along the quays and making significant footpath, bridge and drainage modifications. Access points to the river are proposed to be blocked off. Antique stone walls and railings, and many mature trees are proposed to be discarded and replaced with inferior materials and planting. River views could be reduced or lost entirely and the impact on Architectural Conservation Areas, protected structures and historic artefacts along the quays under the proposals would be highly significant. Further information on the Office of Public Works, “Lower Lee (Cork City) Flood Relief Scheme” may be found at: Public consultation for the proposed Lower Lee (Cork City) Flood Relief Scheme has recently been completed and submissions are under review.

An alternative solution to flood relief has been identified that focuses on upstream river and dam management allied with a tidal barrier that would provide a long term solution to fluvial and tidal flooding and remove the burden of defense from the quays and river banks. This enables a renewal of the relationship of the city to the river and enables new relationships to be created. The repair and reuse of the quayside landscape can increase amenity, encourage city life and tourism and reinforce the city as a place to live, visit and invest. There is significant evidence that the authentic repair of the historic areas of cities can lead to substantial economic gain through tourism, increased trade and increased investment. This may be combined with design intervention that may adapt and repurpose or reinforce landscapes and architecture and create new use.

Proposals for flood relief works in Cork offer a new opportunity to implement a strategic design review of the banks of the river Lee. An integrated design process can realise creative solutions that work in terms of urban space, historic fabric and hydrology. Design thinking is not necessarily looking for a costlier solution, but a more effective one that optimizes resources in the long term.

It is hoped that future quayside developments in Cork city can be enhanced, informed and inspired by the competition proposals, and that collaborative practice will develop holistic solutions for improving the city beyond our current expectations. In particular, we hope that what makes Cork a specific and antique place may be clarified, maintained and reinforced for future generations.

Further information on the competition and how to register may be found from the competition website: