Re: Courts Services House, Emmet Place

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Insurances House/Court Services House – out and out, one of my favourite city centre buildings, perhaps because of its placement. The building is flanked by a mixed variety of structures, ranging from the pretty (Crawford Gallery, Meadows & Bynre, Marble & Lemon etc) to the not so pretty (J&P, Grand Circle, Luigi Malones etc) – and it is perhaps because of this company, the house looks so intriguing, out of place yet right at home. It is a clear memory of a history now past. Often commented as being ‘a doll-house’. Few remaining houses around Cork reflect the design and rigourously maintained quality of the building, now occupied by the Irish Court Services southern division and Southgate Associates. This is surely no masterpiece of architecture, nor is it a shining example of what is great – but this house, in its own quaint way stands out powerful from its nest along Emmet Place.

OCP will soon be lodging an application for a new 6-storey retail and residential development to the rear and sides of this house – however, the developers have assured that it will not detract negatively from this special little landmark along the street. Until then, here’s a little image of the place.

And from the old to the new, well, in fact so new that it’s still under construction – OSB Group’s Camden Court development designed by James Leahy & Associates. Phase 1 is nearing completion, just as the larger Phase 2 is about to begin. Now, before people undoubtedly start passing out and condemning that I would even think about recommending this as an interesting piece of architecture – bare with me (and keep in mind too that I’m not plainly talking about so-called ‘pretty’ architecture). Consider that the building is as yet, incomplete – furthermore, that it only forms part of a larger structure and also that these images fail to encapsulate the whole development. What I find interesting about the design is its unusual shape. The site is a narrow .7 hectare stretch, yet oddly, the economics of the project have undoubtedly forced the design to look elsewhere than bland verticals and flat windows. This, Phase 1, is provided with a jagged series of overhangs along both Carrolls Quay and Knapps Square frontages – a river (Kiln) borders the Carrolls Quay elevation between the building and pathway (unclear in images) and has allowed the building itself to jut out in an unusual overhang. The jagged nature clearly allows for increased spatial areas over ground to facilitate increased units numbers, more so than would be allowed by the natural confines. The building is extensively clad with local limestone and facing Camden Quay/Carrolls Quay, possesses a clever water feature in tribute to the river border (as yet incomplete). The copper roof however provides among the buildings most interesting aspects – it provides a series of exaggerated curves and loops that form part of a greater puzzle in Phase 2. The roof is not seen complete in the images below – which by its end will contain extensive amenity roof gardens and recreation areas for residents. I agree these pictures aren’t up to much, but I would ask you to reserve critique pre-completion of the entire project. I’ll provide fully, better images of the development when that time comes.

Construction grime is still very much evident and the project remains incomplete – finishings and overall structure, which will come in Phase 2 soon.

The exaggerated roof-lines, more is to be done – when complete it will connect with Phase 2 and provide extensive roof-top hanging gardens. (21 Lavitts Quay can be seen in the background).

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