Waterford student wins competition to reimagine city's cultural quarter
A design proposal to re-envision the O’Connell Street area in Waterford City, Waterford’s Cultural Quarter has been announced.
Luke Carparelli, a Design student at Waterford Institute of Technology has been selected as the winner. Entrants included students from WIT’s BA (Hons) in Design (Visual Communications) and Bachelor of Architecture (Hons).
The Design Challenge project is a design-led research collaboration between WIT’s Creativity & Culture Research Group and main project partners Waterford City and County Council and Garter Lane Arts Centre, together with support from Local Enterprise Office, Institute of Designers in Ireland, Design and Craft Council of Ireland, Creative Ireland, community groups, design industry and local enterprise.
The Design Challenge prize - a €2,500 design research internship - which will take place over a period of two months, implemented within the Cultural Quarter - was awarded to Luke Carparelli, a Waterpark Secondary School past pupil from Faithlegg in Waterford.
Luke is a student of the BA (Hons) in Design (Visual Communications), a four-year degree course, which prepares students for employment in the advertising and design area.
Co Carlow’s Catherine Buckley, also a Design student was the runner up, with highly commended entries from Tramore’s Rose O’ Hare, a Bachelor of Architecture (Hons) student and Ferrybank Design student Janice English.
Luke says: “After a couple years overseas doing some backbreaking work I knew I should go home and do something I would enjoy. I've always had a passion for art so I returned to college as a mature student and enrolled myself into the WIT's Visual Communications course. It was a 4-year course and my god did the time fly, going back to college is one of the best choices I've made in life so far.”
The selection process involved an exhibition of design proposals, with the winner selected by public vote and national jury. The competition’s winning entry resonates with the rich history of the Cultural Quarter area, is mindful of the challenges encountered by its community when engaging in the shared space and looks to the future in innovative and sustainable ways.
The project included a diverse range of exciting design proposals from students in year four of the BA (Hons) in Design (Visual Communications) and year five of the BArch (Hons). The design proposals addressed specific challenges encountered by the groups and individuals within the Waterford Cultural Quarter. These challenges were highlighted within the project's totally inclusive public consultation process.
Katherine Collins, Waterford Cultural Quarter Project Manager said, “The Waterford Cultural Quarter team is highly impressed with the quality of work presented by the WIT Design and Architecture students in their projects. The partnership between Garter Lane Arts Centre, WIT and the Cultural Quarter in working with the O’Connell Street community provided for a fertile ground to examine challenges and opportunities that the area presents. We highly commend all involved, and in particular the winning project in a highly talented field of entrants.”
Brian McGee, Market and Enterprise Director, Design and Crafts Council of Ireland, who was on the jury commented “The Design Challenge Project has connected authentic stakeholder inputs with innovative design thinking to identify and address real urban challenges for the new cultural quarter in Waterford. I was very pleased to be a part of the project and would see this as a brilliant and replicable model for citizen engagement in the design process.”
Grace O’Sullivan, newly elected MEP stated, “It gave me great pleasure to be a member of the project’s national jury. There was wonderful creative energy on display and I found the original thinking very inspiring. I particularly enjoyed engaging in conversation with the student designers, discussing the origins of their concepts and their journeys to fruition.”
WIT Design lecturer Joy Rooney noted the unique research project addresses real challenges shaping the Cultural Quarter today, as voiced by the community there. “Our rapidly urbanising world has brought a rich cultural diversity to this historic precinct. Looking to the future, many sustainability challenges will unfold for this maritime city. The winning design proposal now emerges as a tangible, creative action and an opportunity for our community to lead the way.”
Dr Fiona Dowling, a designer and WIT academic, commented that the multi-disciplinary approach with Visual Communication and Architecture working on a collective brief has been a first and one which links with the over-arching aim of the project to create a collaborative environment. “The outreach for WIT Design to link with local groups and partners in the Waterford’s Cultural Quarter has been one of support and mutual growth which will be built on going forward.”
Síle Penkert from Garter Lane Arts Centre said: “Garter Lane Arts Centre is delighted that the winner announced has had the opportunity to look at our city and its developing areas through the lens of design and we wish them all the best in seeing future design endeavours come to fruition.”
Jury member Aoibhie McCarthy, Marketing and Development Officer, Cork Film Festival, noted “The Design Challenge highlighted the value of this model for design-led community development whereby design industry, local authority, academia, a local arts centre and creatives worked together to support emerging designers and create solutions to real-world community challenges. There is a significant opportunity for Waterford, with its active creative community and illustrious design heritage, to build upon this successful collaboration between WIT, Garter Lane Arts Centre, Waterford Council, IDI, DCCoI and local business, for the City to take its place as Ireland's natural home of design.”