Friday, 2 July 2010

Disharmony in Cork

There's more than one way to graft a new building onto an old one. Give the task to a skilled practitioner in the mould of Carlo Scarpa and the result will be to enhance both. The method used here, by Wilson Architecture in Cork, is so outlandish as to be off the spectrum; effectively to build the building you were going to build anyway, and cut out a niche to accommodate the building you're obliged to keep. This is not so much a marriage as forced cohabitation. The effect is risible, made more so by the commentary in Architecture Today magazine which gamely tries to rationalise this dog's dinner.  'The building is wrapped by a glass envelope that adapts and responds to its varied context', it says. 'Curtain walling dissolves the building's mass through its reflective nature and is recessed at ground and first floor level on the west side, establishing a datum with the historic eaves'. Well, if you say so. But never was an historic building incorporated in such a degrading and perfunctory manner. One is half inclined to say that demolition would be better than this humiliation, but the old building has some purpose still, if only to show up the hubristic nonsense and design poverty of what surrounds it.

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