It’s been an iconic fixture on the Docklands skyline.
But Cork’s R&H Hall building will be torn down at the end of the month as works begin on replacing it with a “new sustainable landmark building”.
Preliminary site works to facilitate the major re-development of Kennedy Quay are about to begin, marking the end of the line for the towering structure.
The O’Callaghan Properties project, granted planning permission in May 2023, comprises around one million sq. ft. of development to include residential, office, hospital, and mixed-use development.
This phase of the South Docks project has the potential to create in the region of 5,000 new jobs when fully developed.
The new building will occupy the same footprint, referring its design to the industrial characteristics of the silos.
— Tony O Connor (@tonydoco) November 19, 2021
Sadly, because of design and structural impediments and deterioration, it was not possible to conserve or to safely re-purpose the buildings. The same was not true of the older Odlums Mills building, further eastward on Kennedy Quay which is to be restored and reimagined with retail, café, residential, and office uses.
Conservation work begins
As part of the demolition process, O’Callaghan Properties has embarked on a comprehensive archaeological recording and conservation process with respect to the historic industrial machinery within the R&H Hall complex.
This work is being carried out under the guidance of Dr. Colin Rynne, Director of the Historic Building Survey Unit, Department of Archaeology, University College Cork. The recording process precedes the dismantling, conservation and display of key examples of the silos’ industrial fabric. The approach and work have also been guided by heritage conservation specialists, Southgate Associates, and through continuing discourse with Cork City Council’s heritage and archaeology officers.
The recording, conservation, and demolition process is anticipated to take six months. Some of the industrial machinery within the silos, such as the grain dryers, extends to virtually the entire height of the buildings and the safe dismantling of many of the items to a storage facility will take place prior to their re-installation in parts of the Kennedy Quay project.
‘Cork’s South Docks will be very different from what has gone before.’
Brian O’Callaghan, managing director of O’Callaghan Properties, said the company’s approach has been informed by a respectful understanding of the history of the area and the role it has played in the social and industrial heritage of the city.
“That history was never static, but instead continually evolved and changed across maritime, heavy industry, manufacturing and milling activities, each sector leaving a mark on the area,” he said.
The disappearance of much of this sectoral activity has not been without negative impact either, with significant dereliction and physical disconnection from the life of the city centre being the obvious consequence.
“Cork’s South Docks will be very different from what has gone before. The new development is very different from what has gone before. It will create economic vibrancy, amenity and community.
“As a company, we are very pleased to be involved in this ambitious and transformational project,” he added.