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Competition: Irish Cult Music Venue

An open international ideas competition has been announced to overhaul the iconic Connolly’s of Leap music venue in rural Ireland (Deadline: 13 April)

The contest, organised by Bee Breeders, seeks innovative ideas to revamp the historic County Cork venue, which has belonged to the same family since 1952 and plays an important role in Ireland’s live music culture.

The Irish Cult Music Venue project aims to refresh Connolly’s of Leap by upgrading its main performance area and also rethinking surrounding ancillary spaces. Proposals will be expected to respect the building’s heritage while also delivering a new external performance zone with bar, restaurant, external seating area, offices, creative workshop, recording studios and exhibition spaces. 

Connolly’s of Leap

Connolly’s of Leap

Connolly’s of Leap

According to the brief: ‘The competition at its core is concerned with acknowledging Ireland’s place in the music industry and promoting it to an international audience, while also exploring how an existing music venue can be transformed to become an iconic destination in its own right. Ultimately, it is hoped that the competition will provide a strong precedent for other rural venues, both in Ireland and abroad.

‘Though this is an ideas competition, there is intent on the part of the venue to go into development at some point in the future. As such, participants should feel free to push the boundaries of their creativity and challenge themselves to create novel approaches to redesigning this venue, while at the same time respecting the heritage of the existing bar.’

Ireland is world-famous for its live music culture, which includes both traditional and modern genres. The coastal village of Leap is famous for its dramatic waterfall named O’Donovan’s Leap after an Irish chieftain who escaped English troops by jumping over the river.

Connolly’s of Leap is a popular roadside bar that has been an important music venue since the 1950s and recently reopened, following a brief period of closure, as a music club hosting a wide range of genres.

Connolly’s of Leap

Connolly’s of Leap

Connolly’s of Leap

The project aims to modernise the venue and deliver a new external performance area with bar, a café or restaurant, external seating and a creative workshop with offices, studio spaces and a recording booth. The scheme will also include car parking and a viewing platform overlooking the nearby waterfall.

The overall winner, to be announced on 6 June, will take home a $3,000 USD top prize while a second prize of $1,500 USD and third prize of $500 will also be awarded along with a $300 student and green award.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for registrations is 13 April and submissions must be completed by 17May.

Fee

Early registration from 18 October to 13 December: $60 professionals, $70 students
Advance registration 14 December to 16 February: $120 professionals, $100 students
Late registration 17 February to 13 April: $140 for professionals, $120 for students

Contact details

Email: hello@beebreeders.com

View the competition website for more information

St.Cecilia’s Hall case study: Q&A with Eilidh Henderson

The depute of arts and culture at Page\Park discusses lessons learned restoring and upgrading St Cecilia’s Hall in Edinburgh

How did your project restore the St Cecilia’s Hall complex while delivering a 21st-century music venue?

St Cecilia’s Hall is embedded in Edinburgh’s Old Town below the Royal Mile. The embedded issue was finding a way to get a civilised front door into the building, worthy of the beauty of the elliptical room at its heart. The room itself had a special acoustic quality, but what it needed was a new groundscape to shape the audience experience. This resulted in a three-tier wrap of fixed stepped seating around the long bows of the ellipse, with flexible stage and seating on the floor to suit performances – either end-on or in the round.

In a delightful twist, the hall had through time also become the repository for the university’s musical instrument collection, and so part of the entrance reconfiguration saw that collection ordered and displayed, while also working as the foyer for the concert hall – museum as foyer for concert room; concert room as foyer for museum. This bipartite relationship energised the requirement to open up access through the demolition of a small adjacent support building. Its replacement in our imagination as a new musical mouthpiece representing the breathing of new life into the historic facility.

St.Cecilia’s Hall by Page\Park

St.Cecilia’s Hall by Page\Park

Source: Image by Jim Stephenson

St.Cecilia’s Hall by Page\Park

Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?

The approach to the concert room was about dignity, hiding the services under the tiered seating, surmounted under an elliptical rooflight with a sweeping new blade luminaire. The museum needed to do no more than frame, and where necessary glaze in, the collection draped through the enfilade of rooms. The entrance pavilion, as in any beautiful musical mouthpiece, needed to be both aesthetically in tune with the building as well as comfortable and efficient. In magical empathy with the star attraction of the collection, the harpsichords, a trace was taken of the interior of one of the most emblematic pieces so now in the lower reaches of the old town, in the darkness of the historic wynd Niddry Street, parrots sing in the foliage of an illusory garden of music.

St.Cecilia’s Hall by Page\Park

St.Cecilia’s Hall by Page\Park

Source: Image by Jim Stephenson

St.Cecilia’s Hall by Page\Park

What advice would you have to contest participants on upgrading Connolly’s of Leap and its surrounding buildings?

Head of museums Jacky MacBeath tells a lovely story of why musical instruments were decorated; in this case the peaches for taste, the flowers for scent, the parrots for sight, touch was the ripple of the fingers across the keyboard and sound the cascade of notes around the room. So for the world of classical music, so to the embedding of the senses in Connolly’s of Leap.

St.Cecilia’s Hall by Page\Park

St.Cecilia’s Hall by Page\Park

Source: Image by Jim Stephenson

St.Cecilia’s Hall by Page\Park