Market Square, Letterkenny, Donegal, Ireland

This project is a competition entry for the Market Square, Letterkenny, in Co Donegal on the North West of Ireland. The central premise of the design was to prescribe a use to the space and create a new civic heart for the town and its people. The planting and materials are drawn from the local dramatic landscape of the region – the drystone walling echoed in the use of the stone gabions, the corten steel of the pavilion reflected in the corrugated steel roofs of the agricultural buildings and cottages and the wild planting in the swale, planters and grass bank at the rear reminiscent of the landscape that surrounds the town. The space is intended to include 3 distinct uses ;

GATHER : MULTI-FUNCTIONAL CIVIC SPACE

The section of the Main Street opposite the space is to be repaved with shared surface paving. This will allow the space to expand and contract – allowing vehicular traffic to pass along the Main Street day to day and yet during special occasions (concerts/ parades/ sporting celebrations/ a monthly farmers market) to expand so that this section of the street may be incorporated into the space. The amphitheater which fronts onto the street can either act as a seating area for concerts/ events or a focal point for weary shoppers on the Main Street. The semi circular space which the amphitheater encloses is also intended to perform a number of functions a place to congregate, a “stage” for people watching, but also more practicable uses like a taxi rank and disabled parking bays.

LEISURE AND TOURISM

There is a small pavilion which sits on a swale in the center of this section of the space. The pavilion will include a cafe, tourist information hub, and public toilets. Sections of the pavilion may be screened off so that the space can also be used as a small performance space/ community meeting space. Great effort has been made to open the square up at this level to encourage the hospitality businesses to spill out onto the space for outdoor seating and dining.

PLAY

This is intended as a destination use, intending to draw local people through the space (or from the Castle Street connections) and populate what is otherwise a remote part of the site. We have made use of the gradient and included natural play features that focus around the topography of the site – the multi level play tower and rope bridge, climbing boulders and hoops, and parental seating areas.

The competition shortlist is due to be announced in November 2020.