The City: Urban Architecture and Material Culture- Urban Architecture within University College Cork

Aidan McCarthy 112524287

Architecture has been inseparably connected with the development of cities since people first banded together to live in settlements and ‘civilisation’ – the term implies an urban existence- was born. (Powell, K. 2000)

quad 2

Full view of the open space that exist’s within the Quad on the UCC Campus which displays a form of Urban Architecture.

Urban architecture has been critically analysed throughout the past century, with many geographers comparing and contrasting their views. In this blog entry, the city of Cork will be examined with regards its urban architecture, in particular the contrasting architecture that exists within the University College of Cork Campus.

When one views the UCC Campus it can be interpreted of incorporating all five themes which can be seen when approaching urban architecture; Machines, Power, Play, Globalization and Nostalgia. (Kraftl, 2009). Throughout time UCC has continued to adapt to new cultural and modern trends, this can be seen through its architecture.

Looking at the main quadrangle, it is evident that this space was formed to act as a public space, a place of leisure and an area to outlay reflection for people. Normally “play” architecture focuses “almost exclusively on the shopping mall as the key site at which postmodern spaces of consumption” exist, but with regards UCC it can be viewed that this Quadrangle incorporates a play aspect in its architecture, as it was formed to create a public space and act as a focal point within the college campus.


These images were captured recently of the Quad and the main entrance to the Quad by myself. The first image displays the public space that has been created by this form of architecture. Whilst the second image conveys to us an example of an old gothic style of architecture. This can be seen by the mass of concrete used, the small windows and the archways embedded in the architecture.

Moving on from this, what is most interesting with regards UCC campus is the contrast that exists within its architecture. Comparing the Boole Library and Main Gate entrance to the Western Gateway Building is a show sign of Gothic architecture contrasting with modern architecture.

Critical analysis of the Western Gateway Building in terms of urban architecture, it would appear that this building would be “representative of a technological future” (Kraftl, 2009) and falls into the theme of “Machines”. Whereas the Boole library and the main entrance to the college have a historic 19th Century architecture which incorporates themes of both power and nostalgia as they have represented both throughout time. These old architectural structures symbolize and represent “the interests of those with the power to build (very often the dominant or ruling class in a given society)” (Kraftl, 2009)


Both of these images were taken last week in order to display and convey in this blog the modern architecture that this building represents. This Building was opened in 2009 and is described by the architect “The naturally lit 100 metre long atrium concourse is the heart of the building. All principal vertical and horizontal circulation springs from here, ensuring a very clear way-finding to all departments while allowing the all important informal cross pollination of ideas between the co-located departments” (Walker, S. 2009)


– Kraftl, P. (2009) Urban Architecture. University of Leicester, Leicester, UK. Elsevier Ltd.

– Powell, K. (2000) City Transformed: Urban Architecture at the beginning of the 21st Century. Laurence King Publishing. London, UK. Calmann & King Ltd.

– Walker, S. (2009) University College Cork Western Gateway Building. [Electronic Source] Accessed 20 November 2014

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