20+10+X World Architecture Community Award 14th Cycle Nomination

location / Galway, Ireland
project date / 2009
design team / L.Krzycka, R.Pieszko
P.Kennedy, A.Rachwal, K.Turza-Rachwal
size / 5,900 sqm

master plan and architecture ideas competition

Proposed building, which refers to Irish natural landscape, is as an extension to the existing public walkway and creates new and exciting destination at this underserved location. It will reflect Galway’s importance as a maritime and cultural city and offer a clear image and potential branding for the city of the Tribes.

natural landscape formations of Ireland

natural landscape formations of Ireland

landscape transformation

existing landscape transformation - tectonic shift

The building form abstracts a rocky headland typical of the Galway region. A single, unified form is presented, echoing native limestone cliff formations, karst landscapes, caves and wave cut terraces. This synthetic headland presents a strong, identifiable profile from primary viewpoints within Galway harbour, and affords views of the bay and harbour from the highpoint at top of the theatre, the terminal viewpoint of the promenade.

A muted palette of materials has been chosen externally, in keeping with the stern nature of the landscapes of the Galway region. The delicately textured concrete of the external walls is analogous to a refined cliff-face, while the external glazing is flush with the external wall surfaces is to maintain surface integrity and line.

The promenade allows pedestrians to journey from the harbour side to the viewing point at top of the auditorium, grafting the ramping surfaces of the built form onto the urban continuum of Galway city. By allowing access to all external horizontal surfaces, amenity density of the building is augmented. The promenade is further grafted into context as the ‘rock park’ blends past the pier and into the local harbour. The symbolic starting point of the promenade is the lowest point of the ramp, which is the informal theatre stage formed by the floating barge. The promenade surface is heavily striated and textured, like the karst limestone landscapes indigenous to the region, harmonising with the abstracted headland motif.

view from west - approaching the pier

The brief calls for the building to fulfil two distinct roles- that of a civic and cultural object and that of a commercial / retail node. The primary civic functions of the auditorium and exhibition area are clustered at the south end, orientated towards the sea, whereas the commercial functions of retail, office and marina administration are orientated towards the city and harbour. As a result the civic face presented towards the sea, or outside world is tall, imposing, identifiable, while the commercial face presented to the city is muted, low-slung and permeable.

aerial view of the Galway harbour

aerial view of the harbour

view from across the harbour

view from across the harbour

Galway is host to many internationally important festivals and events, and at such times this building will play a central role in linking together diverse activities throughout the city.

The main auditorium is suitable for events ranging from conferences to concerts and theatre. It has a capacity of approximately 1000 seats, and is housed at the south east end of the pier. The raked seating layout is manifest externally as the ‘undercut’ beneath the auditorium form. The exhibition space is accessed directly via the entrance plaza. It is on two levels, and is a highly controlled and configurable environment. It can play an ancillary role to the auditorium when necessary, such as during a large conference.

The offices are located on the 1st floor and are accessed via a private entrance. This affords distance between bustle of civic and retail uses. The retail units face the quayside and Galway city, and are placed in highly visible position upon crossing the bridge to the centre pier. Marina services are accessed discretely through the retail section.


-solar and photovolatic panels
-rain water harvesting
-heavily planted green roof
-passive ventilation with heat recovery
-locally sourced materials
-spaces for planting and bird nests in elevation walls