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Market Square,Castlebar

  • Architect:
    Mitchell & Associates
  • Award Type:
    Regional Award 2003
  • Location: Connacht
Market Square,Castlebar


Western Between €300,000 and €3,000,000

The remodelling of the Market Square has brought the heart back into Castlebar.The design creates two distinct mini plans,one Civic and the other Social. The surface of the new Square is mainly granite paving with the minimum of intervention. A Colm Breen sculpture & well designed street furniture clearly define the two spaces.

Architect ’s Comment
The main challenge in the remaking of Market Square was the manipulation of traffic, including parking and loading facilities,to steal back significantly scaled space for pedestrians.The close proximity of two large surface car parks related to the original and expanded retail/commercial precincts respectively greatly facilitated the efficient removal of traffic.

The second factor,which could not be tackled as part of this initiative,was the desire to regenerate the surrounding townscape to create a higher quality of enclosure to the space,as part of an overall environmental makeover for the centre of Castlebar.

The completed design creates two distinct mini-plazas at the north and south ends of the Market Square.These pedestrian precincts are separated by a network of heavily-trafficked roads,connecting to the existing surface car parks and the Main Street.

The northern mini-plaza is designed as a setting for a sculpture piece by Colm Brennan,but also functions as a sunny sitting area for pedestrians.The southern plaza is designed for more civil functions.It contains facilities for performance,and is also intended to accommodate street traders.

All pedestrian areas are paved in granite,with heavy limestone kerbs defining the edges.Adjacent pathways are surfaced is precast concrete modular blocks.The lighting installation utilises high quality fittings for both standard street lighting and pedestrian – scaled lighting and all other street furniture seating,,bollards,litter bins etc are designed as a coordinated set of elements.Street tree planting is utilised to define edges and to partially screen facades,thereby visually ‘softening ’ the space..

Clients’ Comment
The Market Square in Castle bar functioned as the prime area of social commercial activity for the town in times past.Laterally this role has vanished and been replaced with highly utilitarian role as a connector between the various commercial sections of the town centre and its expanded areas.It was also dominated by car parking,bus drop-offs and delivery areas,making it an extremely inhospitable area for pedestrians.

There was a general visual degradation of the space with poor surfacing,over-assertive shop signs and a general lack of cohesion between street elements.

Castlebar Town Council decided that,given the potential of Market Square as a key civil and social space,that an elaborate set of environmental improvements should be put in place.The general thrust of these improvements would be towards the re-making of the square as a pedestrian dominated area of high visual and recreational amenity.In other words,it would become a focus for the town centre and an effective connector between the older and newer sectors of the urban centre.

The improvements now in place have brought a functional and visual order to the square,which allows for the clear segregation of pedestrians and vehicles,and has greatly expanded the ground surface area dedicated to pedestrian usage.It is hoped that the quality of the works,as executed will have an appropriate influence on adjacent private land which will encourage the re-making of the buildings surrounding the square,and the up-grading of shop fronts.