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Kilkenny Urban Renewal Scheme of The Parade, Mayors Walk, Canal Square and Canal Walk, commonly and collectively known as The Parade Project, is the result of a commitment by Kilkenny Borough Council in their Kilkenny City Centre Local Area Plan to reinstate The Parade as the city's main urban space and to redevelop Canal Square as a gateway to Canal Walk.

To further their commitment, Kilkenny Borough Council, after an open design competition, engaged a Dublin based architect, GKMP Architects, to design a concept that would be in line with other major urban renewal schemes, such as O'Connell Street in Dublin and Patrick Street in Cork. The design is based on bringing to life the urban space by use of selected paving materials and lighting installations, while respecting the sensitive historical and cultural importance of The Parade and Canal Square.

The Parade

Between the Mayors Walk on the northside and the business and residences on the southside and extending from the junction with Rose Inn Street to the pedestrian crossing lights on the Castle Road past the entrance to Kilkenny Castle.

The design allows for use of non slip pavers of varying sizes to indicate the different areas including;

  • The main parade area, formerly the taxi rank and parking areas, which became become a pedestrianised plaza that can be used as a performance area.
  • The realigned 2 way carriage way which moved away from the existing footpath on the southside to allow for a mobility impaired footpath to be constructed outside the steps at Kilkenny Design Centre and Rinuccini's, and the new taxi, loading and parking facility e provided for on the southside.
  • The paved area of the main parade dissected at numerous points by ground mounted strip lighting as the architects and Kilkenny Borough Council wished to avoid the erection of poles so as to give an open feeling to the finished product.
  • The distinction between the carriageway and the plaza delineated by a marble strip, the concept of which originates from that witnessed by the architects during a visit to St Canice's Cathedral Kilkenny.
  • Public seating incorporated at intervals along the left hand side of the plaza as one approaches the castle.
  • The Parade BeforeThe Parade After
    The Parade - BeforeThe Parade - After

    The Mayors Walk

Between the Rose Garden Wall on the northside and the railings on the southside and the steps at National Irish Bank and the entrance to the Rose Garden in front of the Castle.

The architectural design allowed for:

  • The removal of the existing public toilets and the construction of a new kiosk away from the Rose Garden Wall which incorporated a vending area, 3 automatic toilets and a wardens office.
  • The Reconstruction of the Rose Garden Wall which was removed in the 1960's when the old public toilet block was constructed. Under agreement with the Conservation Department of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, this section of wall was reinstated as per the original construction.
  • The Railings and Entrance Piers refurbished and reinstated as per the instructions of the Conservation Department of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.
  • The surface of the Mayors Walk is a mixture of selected non slip paving and bound gravel. The bound gravel concept is based on the premise that the original surface was gravel as per the alternative name for the area "The Gravel Walk".
  • Public seating incorporated along the Rose Garden Wall and up lighters installed along the length of the wall to emphasise the architectural features of the wall.
  • Gravel Walk BeforeGravel Walk After
    Gravel Walk - BeforeGravel Walk - After

Canal Square

Bordered by the Nore River to the north and the business premises and Rose Garden Wall to the south and stretching from Rose Inn Street to the gated entrance to Canal Walk.

The Design
The Canal Square design is based on converting the area into a paved plaza with a loading bay located on Rose Inn Street:

  • The ESB Sub Station claded to reduce the negative visual impact that it currently projects.
  • The gated entrance to Canal Walk removed to allow a free lowing connection to Canal Walk.
  • Public seating and lighting installed to provide an inviting ambiance for the new plaza.
Canal Square BeforeCanal Square After
Canal Square - BeforeCanal Square - After


Canal Walk

Running along the south bank of the River Nore stretching from Canal Square for approximately 100m towards the stepped entrance to the Castle.

The Design:
The existing river wall removed and a new stainless steel railing installed to visually open up the area. The surface is a polished concrete punctuated with selected non slip pavers. Public lighting installed in the surface to act as up lighters for the Rose Garden Wall again highlighting the architectural features visible.

Canal Walk BeforeCanal Walk After
Canal Walk - BeforeCanal Walk - After


This overall project involved the reconfiguration of the urban spaces around Kilkenny Castle to consolidate their public function. The Parade, rising and tapering towards the castle and bordered by Georgian facades and mature trees, was cleared of car-parking and unified by a continuous stone floor, whose ordering geometry derives from the built context.

The stone surface of Canal Square is feathered into a polished concrete path connecting the river with The Parade through the castle grounds. The river wall is replaced by a light stainless-steel railing, opening up views to the river.

The project is a constructed landscape. It makes background rather than building-as-object, a continuous condition in which old and new elements and materials combine to underscore diverse individual and collective inhabitation. It conjoins the scale of the individual experience and the life of the town.

Granite is jointed and folded in a thickness with small but precise sectional variation across its surface. It is detailed according to its potential collective and individual use. A limited number of other elements and materials (steel handrails, polished concrete benches, a concrete screen and information kiosk, street and ground lighting, a gravel walk, a strip of marble) work as orienting devices to free the ground for civic interaction.

The project was commissioned by Kilkenny Borough Council. It commenced construction in April 2008 and finished in November 2009.



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