Appendix I Urban Design Principles
Urban Design Principles
Throughout the Carlow 2040 Regeneration Strategy, various high-quality design principles have been adopted and applied throughout the scheme. One of the key design principles that can be seen applied in the strategy document is the importance given to place-making and creating opportunities for communities to flourish. One of the key elements to successful neighbourhoods, towns & cities and successful communities is the creation of vibrant places with a strong sense of identity. Heritage, civic and community assets (building, structures, landscape elements etc.) present a significant opportunity for such place-making.
In Carlow Town, key sites were identified such as Carlow College, Visual, the River Barrow / River Burrin and Potato Market and the creation of interesting and dynamic places which have these sites at their core were examined and the linkages emphasised. For example, at the Barrow Track area the presence of the nearby Visual, the courthouse and Carlow County Council offices were identified. It was proposed to make a pedestrian ‘Civic Spine’ through this area, connecting Carlow College to the new Barrow Track development and linking to Carlow Town Park on the opposite bank of the River Barrow. This area would aim to introduce a unique identity as a ‘Civic Spine’ with a mix of Civic Buildings, public streets and plazas, all of which are integral to community life. The opening up of a strong and legible pedestrian route with the key existing and new buildings and spaces provides for a desirable route through the emerging Cultural Quarter.
Another design principle applied throughout the Carlow Strategy is a ‘Pedestrian First’ approach. This approach seeks to promote a reduction in car dependency and looking at alternative modes of transportation; walking, cycling & public transport. An example of this is the key link proposed through Carlow College to connect the Town Centre to Carlow Railway Station. This aims to promote a ‘Pedestrian First’ approach on two levels; first by providing routes for the public to access the Town Centre without the need of the car and secondly, by promoting the use of the rail network as a mode of transport. Another example of the ‘Pedestrian First’ approach is the creation of a pedestrian link from Potato Market to Barrack Street.
For the Civic Spine area, a modular and/or prefabricated building system could be achieved. This approach would be sustainable and low impact on the environment in terms of its construction. The scale of these structures work in conjunction with the adjacent Visual building and Carlow College. Aiming to complement the impressive Visual building, 3/4 storey structures are proposed. The route through the Civic Spine will be publically accessible, with various spaces created due to the irregularity of the built edge. The resultant pockets of new space aim to create distinct public meeting points. The structures also offer private terraces integrated into the modular structure.
At the Pembroke site, a cluster of 4/5 storey, lightly coloured brick residential buildings are proposed. The decision of height was based on analysis of immediately adjacent buildings along the River Barrow. These residential structures propose pitched facades which extend to all four sides of the building. This aims to create visual interest along both the riverfront as well as within the green spaces between the buildings. The buildings are set back from the River Barrow. This allows for a contiguous walkway to be opened between the proposed residential units and the River Barrow. The building blocks themselves have been spaced to allow green areas to be created between the blocks. These would be communal spaces to be used by the residents. However, public permeability has also been provided between and through the buildings. This strikes the balance between creating meaningful public space as well as private space for occupants of the residential units. Car parking would be provided through a mix of on street and underground parking.
Barrow Track Lands
The Barrow Track is proposed as a mixed use dveleopment which can incorporate residential and hotel/commercial uses. It is envisaged that a mix of brick buildings and timber structure buildings could be proposed. These structures offer contrasting facades to add vibrancy along the riverfront. The buildings are proposed as a mixture of 4/5 storey. Similarly, to the Pembroke Lands, the Barrow Track building frontage has been set back from the river to allow for a linked and contiguous riverfront walkway. Permeability through the site is created by a pedestrian East-West route, connecting the River Barrow to the Civic Spine and Carlow College. Within this area a mixture of lower-density housing has also been proposed. This lower-density housing would have private green space. This would allow for a more diverse community. To the south of the site, a site has been maintained for residential parking which provides a key pedestrian connection to the Town Centre.
For the Town Centre (Potato Market, Barrack Street and Tullow Street), pedestrian zones have been proposed. These distinct areas would each have unique identities aided by a mix of different materials used throughout. For example, the Potato Market proposal shows a bespoke design of a ‘crackled surface’. This is intended to contrast with the concentric circle brick pavement used at the Barrack Street pedestrian link. Within Potato Market, elevated elements have been used to create edges framing the bigger public space. These elevated areas provide seating and planting areas adding to the potential vibrancy of the public realm. Similarly, along the Barrack Street link route, green areas have been included within the concentric circle design. These green areas are proposed to have different functions from incidental play areas to planting zones for trees and block planted elements.
Nature of Uses
A key component in the creation of successful place-making is the provision of a mix of uses to include retail, commercial workspaces and residential uses. Historically, Carlow like many other County Towns would have had a rich mix of business including retail, light industrial workshops and residential units above the premises below. The aim of the Carlow 2040 Regeneration Strategy is intended to show how some of the uses and activities and vibrancy can be restored through the delivery of the interesting and dynamic public spaces surrounded by new interventions which seek to create activation at street level with passive overlooking by the new residential opportunity sites identified.
- Potato Market – Public space providing an area for a mix of uses from arts performance to a regular Farmers Market.
- Barrack Street Link – A new pedestrian route providing for a direct connection from Potato Market through a new link at Barrack Street to connect to the Fairgreen Shopping Centre.
- Civic Spine – Potential mix of uses to include office, residential and potential hotel uses.
- The Pembroke Lands – Predominantly residential use with potential for some activation by other uses along the River Barrow frontage.
- The Barrow Track – Mix of residential use with potential for some activation by other uses along the River Barrow frontage including hotel and office uses.
Legibility / Streetscape
- Street hierarchy clearly defined while providing for a pedestrian priority principle throughout. Access to car parking to be discreet and seek to keep car parking to shared spaces / home zones and underground as required. Pedestrian permeability should be provided while also facilitating safe vehicular access.
- Clear building lines which provide adequate separation from the River Barrow / River Burrin in order to provide adequate protection to sensitive environmental receptors.
- Edge blocks with internal courtyards and garden areas with public permeability linkages provided while protecting the private and semi-private amenity spaces for residents.
- Height range of 4/5 storeys for river frontage and dropping down to 2/2.5-storey townhouses.
Protection of the Existing Environment
The River Barrow and its tributary River Burrin should be afforded maximum protection as sensitive environmental receptors. As such, great care must be taken in addressing the potential flood risk in respect of the design and construction of new buildings close to these primary environmental assets.
The use of prefabricated components should also be considered in order to reduce the potential detrimental impacts of intensive construction phases. A clear setback strategy should be established in advance of developing briefs for both the Barrow Track and Pembroke Lands.