The site has a central location in Carlow town and sits between the River Burrin and the old gaol. This point marks a transition point in the current urban plan where the looser urban grain of the periphery changes to the more tight knit layout of the historic core.
Inspired by local defensive historical structures standing along town rivers, such as Carlow Castle and Black Castle, the new building is of a monolithic expression and acts as a landmark to a key entrance of Carlow’s town centre.
The scale and massing of the development has been designed to fit into the wider context of the town while responding to the civic location at the bridge where the core of the town centre begins.
The materiality of the project refers to more modest domestic buildings in the area using pebbledash render and as well as local stone castle. The pebbledash render here is to be left raw and the pebbles sourced from the local river. The texture, colour, and tone nuances of the material emphasis further the permanence and monumental character of this new “Student Castle”.
The project has 125 bedspaces arranged in 32 'student house' apartments that are organised around a large courtyard that opens to the river. An archway links the courtyard to the street and allows for views of the water. The landscaping and the paving for the courtyard and river edge have been chosen to provide an environment of robust quality suitable for student life.
The rooms are grouped into 'houses' for 3, 6 and 8 students and there are studio units for graduates located on the top floor away from the bustle of ground floor activities and the common facilities there around the courtyard.
A very large Oculus, hosting the main vertical circulation and acting as a tri-dimensional public space occupies the south façade and offer wide views to the river and Hanover Park.