O'Donnell wins Europan 11 competition

December 31, 2011

Caroline O'Donnell, the Richard Meier Assistant Professor of Architecture, has won the Europan 11 Competition in Ireland, one of 17 European countries that participated in the international contest this year.

An Irish native who has taught at Cornell since 2008, O'Donnell designed a housing and community center project for a 1.6-acre site along the River Tolka in the Dublin Docklands, a former industrial area. Her proposal, Counterspace, includes 66 attached housing units, a community center, pool, café, medical clinic, playing spaces, and gardens.

The international jury praised O'Donnell's project as "rooted in an idea of layering public and private space across the depth of the site. Poetically imagined and drawn, its robust, rhythmic form-making is softened by vertical landscaping. It is a bold, generous and compelling vision of a different urbanism, maybe even a different time."

O'Donnell, who worked with Leslie Mignin (M.Arch. '11) on the competition, calls her project a "rethinking of the Docklands urban fabric. It's taking the elements of the existing row house the chimney, the stairs, the garden, the collective streetscape and interweaving them in a way that is responsive to the shifting scales, views, light, and energy of the site."

One of the themes of the Europan competition, which included 1,826 entries and 41 winning projects across Europe, was developing architecture for sustainable cities. The housing in O'Donnell's project includes, among other elements, solar "chimneys" whose tilted southern face is covered with solar panels, while forming a skylight to the north.

O'Donnell hopes that the project will eventually be built on the site if it attracts funding and a developer.

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