In 2015, we joined forces with Architecture 00. Together, we enjoy collaborating in a shared environment where strategic, urban and social designers, architects, programmers and economists practice design beyond its traditional borders. 00 work with individuals, governments, corporations and communities to solve problems and anticipate change, and to design successful platforms and places. As a studio it aims to reach beyond the design of objects themselves to the social, economic and environmental systems behind them.

Bridge Street

This June, The Bridge Street Project, an inclusive theatre & architecture project, took over empty houses, shops, the street & local people’s imagination.

It looked at rediscovering the possibilities of Irish town centres through a collective re-imagining of Bridge Street, as a public space with a civic future.

The immersive production & cast of community volunteers created a spectacle that will last in the collective memory of the town.

Whilst the architectural interventions, realised through engagement workshops, provided lasting infrastructural improvements to the town & a renewed civic pride.

Our proposal, inspired by the existing building fabric of the street, aims to celebrate the conversation that the two sides of the street have been having over the years.

As all the people who have lived and worked in Bridge Street over the years have affected each other, so the buildings along this narrow street have influenced each other: they bear the traces of countless iterative transformations, large and small.

The proposal to imprint each façade onto its opposite ties in with the narratives in the theatre script of  different times and places co-existing, and of cycles of change and transformation.

The colour pallet was inspired by existing colours within the town. This approach meant that the paint work would continue to make sense after the play was over and would be able to meaningfully remain in place, providing a legacy to the project.

The play was an immersive theatre piece and the audience were allowed to freely wander through the street and the open buildings, rediscovering these hidden spaces at the heart of the town.

The 80 strong cast for the production principally consisted of community volunteers.

Local people from Callan came out in their droves to attend the play, and by the second night it was sold out for the rest of the week. There has been great pride that the newspapers, and local and national tv stations have been to visit, and praised the project and the initiative of the people of Callan.

“Months of experimentation lengthy rehearsals and local voluntary initiative culminated in an extraordinary public spectacle that saw an entire street transformed into a stage and unoccupied buildings restored to life. Audiences were taken on a wondrous journey into the town’s past and offered some off beat visions of the future in this zany, occasionally moving but always hugely entertaining production.”

Kilkenny Reporter (published 08/07/2015)

Bridge St. is a narrow, gently curved street, that slopes down from a bridge over the King’s River, to the crossroads of Callan. Historically, this street was the main route between Cork and Dublin for people in this area and was the commercial hub of Callan.

The Bridge street project is part of a long programme of projects in Co. Kilkenny looking at engaging local communities in participative planning. The temporary road closure and pedestrianisation of Bridge Street in 2014 as part of the Forecast project provided a prototype for the project, highlighting the street as an important civic space within the town. Workshops were run with the local schools to look at the civic spaces within Callan and children were encouraged to in-habit this forgotten street, filling it for a day with chalk games and play.

The bridge street project developed over a year long period as an interdisciplinary collaboration between the two disparate disciplines of theatre and architecture. Each discipline independently responded to the same challenges faced by the town centre, with the common goal of a ground up re-imagining of the civic space within Callan. 

The installation and realisation of the project was produced through a series of workshops (Bridge Street:MAKE) that ran every evening over a period of three weeks.

From the moment the painting started in June, and the street was closed for several hours a day it became a place to bump into neighbours and to stop and pause to admire it's beauty.

During this period people gave their time after work to the project and each evening the street was filled with theatre rehearsals, music, singing and people painting and making.

Reflected Elevation Study

The street painting at low level was open to everyone and the design of the paint scheme included differing levels of detail and complexity to cater for a range of skill and ability.

Daily furniture making workshops were run by Studio Weave and a trained carpenter, and children could drop in and learn about operating hand tools and joining timber.

The public furniture made as part of the project was designed as a collection of individual light weight cubes to give them flexibility. The form of the stools allowed them to be arranged in multiple configurations and enabled users to personalise their arrangement to suit their needs.

The stools acted as seating and infrastructure for the Bridge Street theatre performance but their design means they can be stacked and stored easily allowing them to be retained as a community resource, providing infrastructure for future public realm activities in the town.

The ambition for the architectural strand of this project was to provide a physical and infrastructural legacy for the community and town, to compliment the more ephemeral nature of the theatre strand of the project.

The 80 strong cast for the production principally consisted of community volunteers.

The theatre strand of the project was produced by Equinox Theatre Company who are based in Callan and specialise in projects combining artists with learning disabilities with professional theatre practitioners.