NEW FRENCH QUARTER, PORTARLINGTON
The site comprises of approximately 1.6 acres, locate beside Market Square in Portarlington, Co.Laois. The town is flanked by the meandering River Barrow, whilst the older and dominant street pattern runs north-south and east-west.
A map of 1678 in the National Library shows a small fort with four streets radiating from the current Market Square,
Historically, the town itself is significant for it’s French Huguenot influence , traces of which can be seen in the form of some of the street names such as French Church Street and also in the form of houses on Patrick Street where the rear gardens tend to be predominantly south-facing.
The proposed development site is located within this historically rich context; a large element of the property is directly accessible from French Church Street, and immediately opposite the “French Church” to the South. To the North of the site is the River Barrow, and to the East is the original Market Square.
The proposal considers the social, economic and physical re-development of this strategically located town-centre site. The proposed layout is derived along similar principals to the existing street pattern-along a north-south axis.
This new urban quarter, creates an opportunity to create a new street with the existing town centre, along with a central piazza and other secondary terraces and courtyards. Importantly, there is a significant new presence to French Church Street in the form of a new Hotel, which has a street side terrace along the street, as well as an remodelled and extended addition to the existing Protected Structure. Importantly, there are proposed works to the eastern face of this building, where we have created a new public terrace and landscaping works to the existing car-parking area, which inspires a more urban setting to the immediate area. The proposal indicates the necessary intensity of overlapping urban forms, through the proximity of each individual building to the next. This is important, in so far as any successful urban area must have a certain scale and density to allow them to be cohesive in urban design terms and have enough variation to make them flexible to make them economically successful.
Design: Jason O’Shaughnessy