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Milk Market is cream of the crop at awards

A REVAMPED marketplace has been voted Ireland's favourite new building.

The open-air Milk Market in Limerick was last night announced as the Public Choice Award winner at the 2011 Irish Architecture Awards.

Designed by Healy & Partners Architects in Limerick, the building took 33pc of the 10,000 votes cast.

Director Richard Rice said last night it was a "fantastic achievement" for the firm which employs 12 architects.

"Like a lot of businesses we're fighting hard to survive but this is a fantastic achievement," he said.

"For us it's huge. We were shocked to win it. We felt that the big guns, the likes of the Aviva Stadium, were the frontrunners. To win with a small community project is an enormous achievement. It puts our name up there.

"It means a lot to the city and to the regeneration of the city centre. The footfall (in the market) used to be 6,000 every Saturday, now it's 12,000."

The awards were sponsored by the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland (RIAI) and took place in Dublin City Council's civic offices last night.

Planning Minister Willie Penrose told the audience that architecture was "very much a matter of public interest".

"The quality of our built environment profoundly affects the quality of our everyday lives," he said.

"Over the past decade or more, architecture in Ireland has enjoyed a remarkable period of achievement.

"But the boom has also left us with a legacy of very poorly built environments.

"I'm not just talking about the unfinished housing estates and sprawling development patterns.

"Wrong buildings in wrong places, buildings that were drawn, not designed, inappropriate materials that can't be properly maintained, and poor finishing are some of the sins we are left to repent."

The awards also honoured 15 others, including the Aviva Stadium which won the accessibility and leisure category.

Other winning designs include the Long Room Hub at Trinity College Dublin, the child and adolescent psychiatric unit in Cork, and Rathmines Square leisure centre and apartments.

Irish Independent