A new landmark for Cork

The Trinity island proposal is an innovative spatial intervention that creates a new space full of opportunities. Regenerating the quays in order to reinvent this historic part of the city a bold and creative response is needed. The new ‘island bridge’ becomes a new urban public place, providing a new civic agora for reflection, interaction, commerce and recreation. The positioning of the bridge island articulates the existing circulation patterns and by doing so creates a central heart where the paths unite. Apart from linking Fr. Matthew and Morrison’s Quays, the bridge perfectly connects the existing pedestrian routes with South Terrace Street. This in turn provides continuous landscaped
riverside paths for both pedestrians and cyclists. By establishing comfortable pedestrian linkages and clear access, the new island square offers a stopping place, where one can rest and relax away from the vibrancy of the city. A new pavilion building offers refreshments for the public as they stop to contemplate to ebbs, flows and crossings of the river and the city’s landmarks and views.

The island bridge takes its geometry from the Christian doctrine of the Trinity which in turn reinforces the relationship with the existing Holy Trinity Church. A triangular shape that represents the 3 elements, hypostases (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit). From this simple conceptual
idea the triangular geometry provides the 3 pivotal points that the bridge connects: Fr. Matthew Quay, Morrison’s Quay and George’s Quay. In addition the three points of the new island bridge links the north and south quays with River Lee. The triangular motif is extruded into a 3 dimensional form as the three corners connect at high level. In elevation, the central white structural mast makes reference to the boats that used to sail the historic quays of Cork reinterpreting the old visual background to provide a new contemporary visual setting. The tall sculptural mast offers new urban public object that changes the vistas and skyline of the city and by doing so creates a new inspirational architectural landmark for Cork. During the night, the white mast will be backlit transforming the city at night.

The new island intervention is an architectural opportunity to celebrate and augment the original qualities of the quays. Along the Fr. Matthew and Morrison’s quays all the previous additions of concrete kerbs and metal guardrails will be removed and restored back to its original stone quay

The proposal partially pedestrianises the part of the quays adjacent to the bridge and relocates the existing car parking. It is intended that the new island will act as a place of social gathering and public activity ‐ a new public square and meeting area to reinvent the river crossing at this point in the city. Level access is provided from both sides of the river with an enlarged landing in the middle of the bridge where it links to the new square. On either side of the bridge, the proposed steps invite people to use them as seating, creating explicit opportunities for social interaction. The proposed finish level of the new bridge is at +3.75m which will assist the passing of the boats at high tide.
Following the raised level of the new bridge, the adjacent wharf presents opportunities for a new pier offering boat rides to residents and tourists. Furthermore, the restoration of the existing quay walls back to the original design will protect the residents and properties from flooding. A new
pavilion in the middle of the square provides a multiplicity of purpose: cafe, terrace seating, refreshments, exhibition spaces and a city information hub offering advice about events taking place throughout the city. A plinth located at the south corner of the bridge is proposed to be used to host a rolling programme of temporary artworks. It is intended that this will create opportunities for aspiring local and international artists to win and display a commission on the bridge and for the public to enjoy and be exposed to contemporary art throughout the year.

The frame for the bridge structure will be 100% recycled steel. Steel structures are significantly lighter than concrete equivalents and they require less extensive foundations which reduces the environmental impact of the build. The proposed flooring for the new bridge is smart paving slabs that convert energy from pedestrian’s footsteps into small amounts of electrical power. The
electricity generated will be able to cover the energy demands for the new bridge.

The proposed design is about simplicity in construction. A hollow steel frame deck is supported on each corner of the bridge by two new piers and the structural mast. The lightweight steel framed structure offers a fast and straightforward assembly on site that will limit the disruption to the river
during construction. This economical solution for the deck and substructure will allow the construction budget to be spent where it will be more beneficial to the residents: the quality of the materials.

Lighting: Night time aesthetic
The lighting design for the bridge will transform the look of the bridge at night, changing the view, reflectivity and luminance of the River Lee. The tall mast will be backlight resembling a beacon illuminating the new island. Additionally, the triangular shaped seating will also be backlit from one
side, aligned with a backlit triangular opening on the floor creating a three dimensional light installation.

As mentioned in the design brief, innovative solutions cannot be made without a truly rigorous interrogation of the past, the present and the future. The new Trinity island refers to all three: As an architectural object: the visual reference of the ship sails pays tributes to the glorious past of the quays. The geometry of the bridge acknowledges the present by perfectly integrating and enhancing
the existing urban fabric and strengthening the linkages of the existing circulation paths. The new space creates new commercial, civic and creative opportunities to reinforce the quality of the historic quays for future generations.