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Quayfront Restoration, Wexford

  • Architect:
    National Building Agency Ltd.
  • Award Type:
    Best Contribution to Urban Design 2003
  • Location: Leinster
Quayfront Restoration, Wexford

Citation

Eastern Over €3,000,000

The provision of a new linear seafront development is subtly divided and delineated to accommodated a rich variety of uses while also retaining it existing uses and features, a working dock for mussel boats, mainline railway track, a marina for leisure craft, a pedestrian boardwalk and a series of paved areas suitable for both active and passive recreational pursuits.

The delineations and divisions are simplistic even understated and appropriately scaled. The selective concentrations of materials used were simple and robust such as limestone & concrete cobbles, perforated sheet steel, timber and concrete.

This scheme provides a substantial civic open space to the town centre of Wexford, which is significant and exemplary, whilst retaining the narrow medieval streets that had been developed over centuries.

Architect's Comment
A new linear space with an area of 2.4 hectares (6 acres) has been created by the project, running 850 metres in length, parallel and adjacent to the main retail commercial core of the town. The materials used were limestone and concrete cobbles, perforated sheet steel, timber and concrete.

One of the major considerations was to replace the pleasant sound and tactile effect of walking on the old Woodenworks with a similar experience. Accordingly, 4,220 sq. metres of timber decking were used for walkways. The timber chosen was Ekki, a renewable hardwood. The principal pedestrian walkway runs parallel to the water from the bridge on the northern end to Paul Quay at the southern end. A number of connecting timber walkway routes connect back at right angles to the end of the existing streets leading to Main Street. The new quay is now used for all forms of pedestrian activities e.g. walking, jogging, social interaction and for large outdoor events.

A working dock area has been incorporated in to the design to facilitate the mussel boats.

Clients Comment
The old wooden quays, known as the "Woodenworks" had been constructed by the Fishguard and Rosslare Railways and Harbour Company Ltd. under the Railway Act of 1871, to enable it to run a railway line along the 18th century Georgian quays.

Understandably, in the early stages of consultation on the scheme the proposed removal of the wooden wharf generated a significant debate within the town. Wexford Borough Council decided to examine the project, not only from an engineering and infrastructural perspective, but also as a major opportunity to improve and enhance the sea front as an amenity space in addition to providing facilities for the harbour's expanding mussel boat industry.

At the design stage, there was significant pressure from business interests to maximise the newly created space for car parking in the town. This proposal was considered but rejected by the Local Authority with the exception of a number of spaces on the southern end of the quays which would be primarily used for the proposed marina activities and new tourist office scheduled for construction in 2003.