Tom Spalding’s Introduction to his excellent Cork’s 20th Century Architecture
Cork is an ancient city, dwelt in and developed for nearly a millennium and a half. In plan the city centre is Mediaeval and Georgian. Its bounds in 1900 were much as they had been a century beforehand and the city grew far more in the last century than in all those preceding it. It sprawled, particularly to the south and west, and burst beyond its crowded confines. Large housing estates were built, along with new churches and schools. But the city centre didn’t stay static, like some untouched Georgian gem. Due to a number of factors – fire, accidental or deliberate being the foremost – the fabric of the old city is in many places relatively new.
In some cases, Cork has been in the vanguard of design, but generally, its buildings offer a compact ‘walk-able’ gazetteer of the key architectural styles of the last century; from the last gasp of Gothic Revival, through Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau to Modernism and beyond. Whilst Cork’s buildings may be said to belong to one or another style, these movements have all been mediated through the city’s own particular needs and people, giving a local flavour to international ideas.
As we move further away from the twentieth century, we have a chance to look back and reassess. Some of these buildings are in immaculate condition; others have not fared so well, but still remain important. This map and guide will lead visitors and locals through
sixty-five selected buildings and structures to show how the styles and technology of twentieth century architecture re-shaped Cork.
Tom Spalding’s booklet can be viewed at: http://www.riaisouth.com/images/A-guide-to-Cork-20th-C-architecture.pdf