Refurbishment project breathes new life into old buildings

Cork City benefits from a state-of-the-art gallery, concert and cinema space in a refurbished former church further enhancing the region’s status as a cultural hub.

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The refurbishment of Christchurch preserves the features of the original structure The refurbishment of Christchurch preserves the features of the original structure

Christchurch as it stands today is a neoclassical Georgian building dating to the eighteenth century although there have been churches on the site since medieval times. The site is steeped in history and was the burial place of some of Cork’s chief citizens. It ceased to function as a church in 1978 and was used for various functions under the auspices of Cork City Council before this extensive refurbishment project began in 2008.

It is a protected structure due to its historical and architectural significance. As such, the conservation strategy involved enabling the building to evolve to fulfil its new functions while preserving the features of the original structure. Due to this project, the centrally located building has once again become a functioning part of the city’s fabric.

Increased capacity and functionality

The building next to Christchurch houses the Triskel Arts Centre which is based in a former warehouse. Triskel has taken over management of the refurbished building on behalf of Cork City Council. As part of the refurbishment, a glazed section was built to connect the two buildings making this a single large arts centre.

This has enabled Triskel Arts Centre to expand its capacity as the Christchurch section now houses a theatre development space, a visual arts space, an independent record shop, a café and an art-house cinema. The theatre development space is a studio space specifically for the development of professional theatre. It is provided to theatre makers free of charge in return for a public showing of their work.

The main space seats 250 people. With its stained glass windows and pew seating, it has retained a sense of the religious space it once was.

Cultural bonanza

This project brings a two-fold benefit to the city by both ensuring that the church is maintained as a landmark building in the city and adding to the city’s cultural capital.

Tim Lucey, Cork City Manager, said the project “funded by Cork City Council and the ERDF has preserved the heritage of the Christchurch building. More crucially, it has transformed this ancient church into a living, breathing hub of diverse artists and creative collaborations, making it a vibrant and active part of the city's cultural landscape again.”

Christchurch offers art-house cinema four nights per week and the remaining three nights are for music and theatre. The daytime is also busy in the centre with art exhibitions, workshops etc. For the autumn 2012 season, the arts centre has expanded its brochure due to the large schedule of events on offer. Artists of all types are excited to showcase their work in the state-of-the-art venue. Among the wide variety of events are music concerts, poetry workshops and children’s theatre.

Total and EU funding

The project “Christchurch Arts Centre” had a total cost of EUR 4 360 000, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 2 180 000 for the 2007 to 2013 programming period. The project was funded through the “Southern and Eastern (S&E)” Regional Operational Programme 2007-13.

Draft date