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Armagh City’s Mall wins Civic Trust Special Award

Friday 11th November 2005 at 1pm 0 Comments

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At the Civic Trust National Awards gala ceremony held last night (Thursday 7th April) at the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, The Mall restoration in Armagh City was awarded the 2005 Civic Trust Northern Ireland Public Realm Special Award.

The Northern Ireland Public Realm Special Award is sponsored by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and is one of nine special awards handed out annually across the UK through the Civic Trust Award scheme, which is one of Europe’s most prestigious architecture and environmental design schemes. The Special Award recognises those who are setting the very highest standards improving the quality of the built environment in Northern Ireland and through this the quality of life for everyone.

This year the award for the project which in the judges’ view best demonstrates design excellence in the public domain in Northern Ireland, went to the restoration and conservation of the unique city park Mall in Armagh City by Belfast-based practice Alastair Coey Architects.

Presenting the award, Arts Council Chief Executive, Roisín McDonough said that she was “especially delighted that this year’s winner has at its heart the sensitive regeneration of the public space of one of Northern Ireland’s most beautiful and architecturally striking towns”. She continued to praise the “sensitive and well considered approach to the delightful open green space of the Mall in Armagh”, and congratulated Armagh City and District Council on their endeavours to bring life back to this restored green space. The Council has plans to organise at least six major events each year in the mall.

Mr Alastair Coey, Principal of Alastair Coey Architects, said, “All places are, in some senses, unique but not all are special. Armagh’s Mall is a special place, the history of which is closely intertwined with the history of the City itself. Its survival from the mid-eighteenth century to the twenty-first century is a tribute to the foresight of those who were responsible for its original delineation and the custodianship of the generations that have been responsible for its protection and maintenance in the intervening period. New challenges and pressures on public spaces have created threats to the continuing existence of urban spaces - pollution, vandalism, decay, crime and escalating land values have all conspired to attempt to extinguish them. Yet there has never been a greater need for havens of peace and refuge from the hectic pace of modern life. Public places for solitude, recreation and entertainment. The restored Armagh Mall is an asset to be enjoyed by the citizens of the City and visitors for many years to come.”

Originally created in 1773 by the Church of Ireland, the park, which is close to Armagh Observatory and surrounded by elegant Georgian terraces and striking High Victorian Gothic Revival churches and buildings, fell into disrepair in the 1990s and became under-used during the day and avoided at night. The restoration of the city park Mall retains much of the character of the original landscape. The perimeter footpath has been resurfaced, disabled access improved, park furniture provided in bold and modern design, with buried up-lighters providing dramatic lighting for the trees.

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