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Late 20th Century

The Marina Electricity Generating Station (26) originated as part of the Ford factory complex and operated as a coal fired station when it was opened by the E.S.B. in 1953. The discovery of natural gas off the southern coast of Cork in 1978 means it now operates as a natural gas fired, combined cycle combustion turbine plant.

Figure 1: E.S.B. Generating Station

ESB Generating Station

The Cork Opera House (27) was designed by Scott, Tallon, Walker and constructed in the 1960s to replace the original Athenaeum on the site, which had burnt down in 1955. Similar to another of the firm’s designs, the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, it shares that building’s much disliked feature of a blank curtain wall. Recent attempts to improve the appearance of the building resulted in the addition of the Murray O' Laoire designed glass façade to the Emmet Place elevation.

Figure 2: Cork Opera House

Cork Opera House

Pairc Ui Chaoimh (28) was opened on June 06th 1976 and is the home of the Gaelic Athletic Association in Cork. It is located in the Marina area in the South Docks. Its opening marked an historic occasion for the G.A.A. in the country as a whole as it was the first custom built stadium in the ninety two years of its existence. The stadium had an original capacity of about 50,000 and annually hosts the finals of the Cork senior hurling and senior football championships.

Figure 3: Pairc Ui Chaoimh

Pairc Ui Chaoimh

While Cork enjoyed a period of economic prosperity in the 1960s and early 1970s, the city was economically devastated during the late 1970s and 1980s with its indigenous industries unable to compete against foreign enterprises which had freer access to the Irish market since Ireland joined the E.E.C. The 1980s was a decade of economic recession for Cork with the collapse of employment in its traditional manufacturing base by almost 20%. In 1983-1984, Ford and Dunlops in the South Docks and Verholme Dockyard in Cobh all closed with the loss of 2,500 jobs. A further 1,000 jobs were lost from the city’s textile mills (Crowley, J.S., Devoy, R.J.N., Linehan, D. and O' Flanagan, P., 2005 p. 372). This had a significant effect on the city as entire families and generations had worked in these industries mainly located in the Docks area and Blackpool. Thousands of young Cork people were forced to emigrate in search of work while unemployment rose to levels not experienced since the early 1950s.

In response to the loss of its traditional manufacturing base, the city began to develop the new industries of electronics, pharmachem and healthcare and international services. Employment levels in the south eastern sector which had been badly impacted upon by the closure of Ford and Dunlops slowing recovered in the late 1980s with the conversion of the Ford plant into multiple small manufacturing and service units as part of the development of the Marina Commercial Park. However the significant employment in these areas was to base itself outside of the Docklands - in the suburban industrial estates to the north west and south west of the city and in the county areas of Little Island, Ringaskiddy and the Lower Harbour area.

The introduction of tax incentives under the various urban renewal schemes of the 1980s and 1990s marked a change in the form of some of the city. The Merchant’s Quay Shopping Centre (29) was developed in 1988 under the original Urban Renewal Scheme and replaced a series of derelict, though once attractive, quayside terraced properties along the north channel of the River Lee at the junction with St. Patrick's Street. The Blackpool Shopping Centre on the city’s northside was also developed with the aid of tax incentives.

Figure 4: Merchant's Quay and Shopping Centre

Merchant's Quay - Old Image

Merchant's Quay Shopping Centre

Source: Cork City Council (2008d)

Early urban renewal schemes resulted in mainly new construction, with the development of a number of apartment blocks in the city centre introducing a new architectural form and a new form of living to the private sector in Cork. Prior to this urban renewal had been confined to small scale refurbishment and infill development using the Revolving Fund and the Derelict Sites Act.

The Integrated Area Plans developed under subsequent urban renewal schemes attempted to introduce a more area-based and conservation focused approach to the renewal of such areas as Shandon and Blackpool. The City Docks Integrated Area Plan (Cork Corporation, 1998) represented the first attempt to consider and plan for the future of this area. Eleven sub-areas were submitted for financial incentives under the Urban Renewal Scheme, however only three were approved for such benefits. It seems that this was due to a decision that the primary focus in Cork under the Urban Renewal Scheme should be Blackpool where considerable progress had been made (Cork City Council, 2005a).

In the city centre the City Council undertook a relatively successful ‘Living over the Shop’ renewal scheme during the 1990s while also participating in the Urban Pilot Project winning recognition for the sensitive regeneration of the historic core of the medieval city. More recently the 1998 tax incentive scheme for the development of purpose built student apartments has altered the morphology of the south-western suburbs through the introduction of taller high density developments.

Figure 5: Victoria Mills Student Apartments

Victoria Mills Student Apartments