The development is situated on a prominent quayside site in the centre of Carlow Town, between the ruins of Carlow Castle and the River Barrow close to the bridge to Graigcullen. The site is highly visible both from the bridge and from the quay on the opposite side of the river. In order to preserve the view from the opposite quay of the castle, a national monument, the development was broken into two blocks at design stage. This created a central plaza at the heart of the development which both provides a vista of the ruins together with a pleasant entrance space to both blocks.
As a contrast with the 12th century ruins, a modern approach was adopted with the project, in order to highlight the castles prominence in the locality. The forms of the two blocks are driven by the introduction of a number of angled and curved walls into the building fabric, which combine to bring the spectator’s eye through the buildings to the castle walls. Modern roof forms were utilised throughout and large glazed areas were incorporated into the building envelope, particularly on the waterfront. A variety of natural stone cladding was utilised on the facades to ensure a sense of continuity with the building materials of the past.
A basement area provides an underground car park for the development accessed via a ramp through Block 2. Both blocks are traditional block construction with a combination of shallow mono-pitch and flat roofs over at different levels. The central raised podium is landscaped and provided with public seating and sculpture to create a meandering and inviting introduction to the scheme. Moving inside the buildings, the varied size and style of the glazing offers a combination of stunning vistas of the river and castle, as well as framed glimpses of both. The buildings response to these surroundings and the interaction between the two blocks combine with a sense of internal light and space to provide a modern 21st century commercial development.