Ireland's rich railway heritage is at the centre of an ambitious €160m development hailed as a milestone in urban industrial conservation.
The Horgan's Quay development in Cork by Clarendon and BAM has been described as a "game changer" for the manner in which it restored and integrated railway buildings dating from the 1850s into a lavish modern project featuring office space for 5,000 workers, a 136-bedroom hotel and 237 apartments
Three historic buildings - a limestone carriage shed, a station master's house and a goods shed - are now being lovingly restored and integrated into the most ambitious development project in modern Cork history.
All three date back to the 1850s when they were at the hub of a new railway terminus at Penrose Quay operated by the Great Southern and Western Railway Company.
Adjacent to Kent Railway Station, the Horgan's Quay project will not only create an entirely new Cork streetscape and river-fronted pedestrian plaza but aims to help kick-start the €1bn redevelopment of the city's sprawling docklands.
"Conservation was at the heart of everything we wanted to do. It was our theme," explained Ronan Downing of Clarendon Developments.
"We haven't just tried to maintain the exterior of the historic buildings such as the carriage shed and goods shed, we have incorporated the key interior parts of the buildings into the new structures."
Gareth O'Callaghan of JCA Architects said Horgan's Quay was a project with remarkable potential and rich heritage.
He pointed out three of the foremost architects of the Victorian era in Cork - Sir John Benson, Joshua Hargrave and John Bagnell - had designed the three key 1850s railway structures now at the centre of the Horgan's Quay project.
Susan Dawson of OMP Architects said the challenge was to fit a modern, exciting project on such a historic site into a key part of Cork's urban geography.
"We took the history and geography of the area working together to give Cork a new urban quarter," she said.
Horgan's Quay will actually boast three quarters - and an entirely pedestrianised thoroughfare which fronts on to the River Lee just as it expands to 63 metres in breadth as it reaches the lower harbour.
The public realm element of the three areas totals more than 6,000sqm while the hotel quarter will focus on the historic carriage house, the residential quarter will feature the station master's house and the office complex integrated with the goods shed.
Four previous developers tried - and failed - to get projects off the ground for the site dating back to the late 1980s.
"The aim was to honour Cork's past as a great imperial city where a busy port was linked to the new railway station in the 1850s," said Conor Kinsella of OMP Architects.