Bryan Roe – Se­nior Ar­chi­tect and Di­rec­tor Scott Tal­lon Walker Ar­chi­tects

Irish Examiner - Supplement - - PÁIRC UÍ CHAOIMH SPECIAL - In­ter­view: Ed­ward New­man

Cork GAAhad put to­gether a brief that was given to us through Malachy Walsh, the project man­agers on Páirc Uí Chaoimh. They re­quested a pro­posal from us and, from them, we re­ceived a writ­ten brief.

The de­sign is our de­sign – there was no pre­lim­i­nary de­sign other than a draft sec­tion and a draft sec­tion is sig­nif­i­cantly dif­fer­ent to the build­ing now.

It wasn’t a de­sign com­pe­ti­tion at the in­ter­view stage.

It was to show ca­pa­bil­ity: how we would ap­proach the Páirc Uí Chaoimh project and the avail­abil­ity of qual­i­fied people from our firm to carry out this work.

Af­ter we were ap­pointed we looked at var­i­ous de­sign op­tions. As far as I re­call we con­ceived five. Each de­sign was ad­dress­ing a dif­fer­ent is­sue. Then we made a pre­sen­ta­tion to Cork GAA about six or eight weeks af­ter we were ap­pointed, and then got sign off from them on how we would de­velop the de­sign.

Our firm de­signed the Aviva Sta­dium. When we looked at Páirc Uí Chaoimh what we didn’t have was a rail­way line go­ing through the mid­dle of the site! Al­though, his­tor­i­cally, there was a rail­way go­ing through the Páirc Uí Chaoimh site. The agree­ment was to re­de­velop the ex­ist­ing Páirc Uí Chaoimh, it wasn’t to start from scratch again.

At that point Cork County Board had an agree­ment from Cork City Coun­cil with re­gard to the land the Board would be us­ing. There was a re­quire­ment for an ar­ti­fi­cial prac­tice pitch, and its lo­ca­tion had been agreed from a “land use” point of view. A lot of due dili­gence was car­ried out be­fore we got the plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion.

In our ini­tial dis­cus­sion with Cork GAA we did step back and ask, ‘if you were start­ing again, you might look at a few other things’, but that wasn’t an op­tion avail­able to us un­der our brief.

If we’d a vi­sion it was to make Páirc Uí Chaoimh as good as it could be within the con­fines of what we were asked to do. Ob­vi­ously the Aviva was a dif­fer­ent an­i­mal; it was an in­ter­na­tional sta­dium that would be beamed across the world by the me­dia. The bud­get for the new Lans­downe Road was big­ger whereas the project in Cork was to ad­dress a lot of the short­com­ings of the ex­ist­ing sta­dium, which was built in 1976.

As a re­sult of changes in health and safety leg­is­la­tion and op­er­a­tional re­quire­ments, the ca­pac­ity of the old sta­dium had been re­duced. The tun­nel un­der the stands was very tight and needed to be ad­dressed.

The brief was to de­sign a new South Stand, which would in­clude all the ad­di­tional ac­com­mo­da­tion that was re­quired: me­dia fa­cil­i­ties, more cor­po­rate fa­cil­i­ties and fa­cil­i­ties for the Cen­tre of Ex­cel­lence and the play­ers. All of that had to go in a sin­gle en­tity. These fa­cil­i­ties would be used on match day as well as for train­ing, con­fer­ences, meet­ings and con­certs. The fa­cil­i­ties go­ing in had to have a flex­i­bil­ity to suit that.

And the ter­races and the North Stand needed to have cer­tain works car­ried out to bring them back up to the stan­dard that they needed to be to com­ply with cur­rent regulation. So they were all ex­tended by two or three me­tres near the top to pro­vide ex­tra ca­pac­ity. The tun­nels are gone.

The two ma­jor sta­dia that we’ve de­signed are Aviva and Páirc Uí Chaoimh. We’ve worked on some Premier­ship sta­dia and we’ve worked in the Mid­dle East. The pin­na­cle ones will be these two – the Aviva and Páirc Uí Chaoimh. The Páirc is turn­ing out re­ally well; Sisks have done a fan­tas­tic job within quite a tight time­line. Hope­fully

ev­ery­body will be happy.

As an ar­chi­tect you’re ob­vi­ously show­ing your wares be­cause ev­ery­body sees what it is. But, the other side is whether it ac­tu­ally works. When things work people don’t tend to no­tice the build­ing, they just no­tice what it’s there for which is the match. The sta­dium be­comes the back­drop, it be­comes the en­abler.

The at­mos­phere is a big is­sue. The more en­closed the louder the at­mos­phere will be be­cause you con­tain ev­ery­body’s voice. If you go to Mil­len­nium Sta­dium in Cardiff, they have a fa­cil­ity where the roof can close and noise in­creases sig­nif­i­cantly. The more (noise) leak­age you have – open corners etc. – less noise is con­tained.

Páirc Uí Chaoimh is an open bowl. The three sides are as they were. The North Stand has a roof which will help but there is still has a cer­tain amount of leak­age. To get the vol­ume ev­ery­one will have to shout that bit louder!

Of course there are things that could be done better. Everything is as a re­sult of the cir­cum­stances that ex­isted at the time the de­ci­sion was made to re­de­velop the sta­dium. At the time, when we were awarded the re­mit to de­sign a new sta­dium, money was tight.

Based on everything we had at our dis­posal the sta­dium is look­ing very well. Hope­fully that will prove to be true when the people who mat­ter - the people who come to visit it, to work in it, watch matches in it, train in it etc. - if they’re happy then our de­sign has worked.

As far as Cork con­nec­tions go, I have a few. My wife was born in Cork, my mother is from west Cork and my dog was born in Cork! Rugby was more dom­i­nant in the fam­ily than GAA. My un­cle – Robin Roe - played for Ireland and the Lions..

Pic­ture: De­nis Mini­hane Pic­ture: Larry Cum­mins

SPICK AND SPAN: Some of the new spec­ta­tor seat­ing be­ing in­stalled in the South Stand dur­ing the Páirc Uí Chaoimh re-de­vel­op­ment.

Right: The fin­ish­ing touches are put on the new sta­dium.

Be­low left: Bryan Roe. Be­low right: James Hughes.

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