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The Contemporary Picturesque – Imagining Space for an Invisible City

Part 2 Project 2014
Phoebe Brady
University College Dublin | Ireland
Questioning the ‘contemporary picturesque’ led to this thesis’ curiosity in landscapes of both a cultural and industrial nature. Industrial, in that the landscape is a working, productive entity; adapting to changing uses over time, while paced to the tempo of natural and ecological processes. Cultural, in the sense of an empathetic engagement with it’s human collective.

A Landscape Infrastructure for Cork Harbour
The sea’s potential to transform our contemporary world inspired ‘the Logic of the Plan’, my research group, to develop an idea for a ‘landscape infrastructure’ in Cork Harbour.

A research archipelago was designed to support the aspirations of the Irish Maritime Energy Resource Cluster IMERC’s, the needs of the Irish Navy and National Maritime College and the environment of Cork Harbour.

The challenge in the scheme was the absence of an immediate community. It therefore, tests the ideas of an imagined place developing over time, from firstly remediating an industrial slagheap, to creating a new landscape, to designing the connecting space between the programme; a tapestry of houses, trading buildings and reprogrammed industrial buildings. The infrastructure of reclaimed islands, network of waterways, walls, wetlands and transport routes, supports the setting for maritime research, testing and training.

To evoke the atmosphere of this uniquely imagined seascape, a set of individual research projects were set on this invisible territory.

The Contemporary Picturesque
The individual project repossesses unprogrammed ground to connect the archipelago in a landscape of public space. Taking cues from topography and history, it carves connections between the existing naval base, remnants of industry, new island additions and natural landscape for new and existing communities to share.

The social agenda of this final proposal, a burial ground and public garden for permanent and visiting communities of the islands, attempts to balance the local identity of Cork Harbour with global influences. The design moderates private and public thresholds to create spaces for people to share the ideas that will allow the research archipelago to thrive.

It imagines a contemporary picturesque; a landscape with which people can engage, meet and enjoy in a number of ways.

Phoebe Brady


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