SWEDISH ARCHITECTS have won an international competition to design a new centre pier performance space for Galway harbour.
Entitled "The Sky Pier - Unity in Duality", the successful entry was confirmed last night as Galway marked the opening of the city's first Open House architectural festival.
The judges described the design by JM - Konrad Milton and Carl Jägnefält - as "creating a compelling architectural image with a linear building along the northern edge of the pier, which then rises vertically to form a tall thin tower at the point where it meets the sea".
"The fact that the stage is powered hydraulically from a pool on the top level of the tower adds to the delight of this scheme," the panel said. The Swedish architects will receive a majority share of the €10,000 prize, while two Galway architects, Laura O'Brien and Faela Guiden, took first place in the student category. Their winning design was described by the judges as a "lucid and evocative response to the site, the brief, and the character of the place".
Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland director John Graby said that the competition "shows a huge, suppressed creativity among architects, which should be used to help shape a better future for the built environment in Ireland".
Galwegians have been invited to cast their own votes on the winning entries, which will be displayed this weekend from noon to 4pm in the Centre Pier building.
More than 100 entries were submitted for the contest to redevelop the Galway harbour centre pier. Competitors were asked to design a building incorporating a public stage, retail space, marina facilities, tourist information kiosk and commercial offices.
The building "should reflect Galway's importance as a maritime and cultural city", the jury said.
Members of the jury included: Galway Harbour Company chief executive Eamon Bradshaw; Galway City Council senior executive architect Sebastian Feldmann; Dublin Docklands Development Authority director of architecture John McLaughlin; Druid Theatre artistic director Garry Hynes, and Marcus Donaghy of Donaghy and Dimond Architects.
Galway's Grammar School, Augustinian Church, Druid Theatre and Western Fisheries Board headquarters are among a series of recently refurbished buildings open to the public this weekend as part of the Open House festival.
The three-day festival is being held in partnership with the Irish Architecture Foundation. Details are on www.openhousegalway.ie