WOODEN and Perspex pods installed in on-street parking spots for use by restaurant and coffee shops are among the innovative ways Kinsale is planning to create a post-Covid-19 comeback.
The pods, each of which would seat six (three facing three), have been designed by local doctor of architecture Marc Ó Riain.
Marc envisages two pods per parking spot, which could be used by cafés by day, and restaurants by night, and which would partially help combat the loss of indoor space due to social distancing.
A working prototype is already under construction by local man Brian O’Regan of OR Construction, who could manufacture them at his joinery in Dunderrow. Slightly similar options, more glasshouse-type pods, are already in use in The Netherlands.
Marc, who lectures at CIT, and runs Rua Architecture in Kinsale, developed this and other pro bono [free] concepts to help local businesses get trading again post-Covid.
‘Our restaurants and cafés in Kinsale have been very resilient by trading through the shutdown with takeaway and home delivery. We are hoping that the Council will defer rates on external seating and that these units can be shared, with cafés using them during the day and restaurants at night,’ he said.
He also has a vision to pedestrianise Market Square, which was actually first proposed in a plan as far back as 1974. And for Short Quay, he proposes using boat sails to create different areas, to prevent people filtering from one zone to another. That idea was inspired by local business Mamukko which upcycles old race sails into bags.
‘More long term I’d like to see the concrete plinth taken down there which totally limits its use as a public space,’ he said. ‘I feel this is the way forward, both as a response to Covid-19 but also to allow people better enjoy public spaces,’ he added.
He has forwarded his ideas to the Kinsale Chamber of Tourism and Business who have just launched the ‘Kinsale Comeback Campaign’ and the feedback has been positive. Its reprsesentative Ciaran Fitzgerald said it was a great example of ‘outside the box thinking’ and would be a ‘huge point of difference’ for the town.
Kinsale stakeholders are liaising with others in Cork city and Westport on how to adapt their public spaces.
‘The Council must take in a number of things like flow of traffic, health and safety issues and insurance. But we’re looking for a fast solution for this season and this could be part of the plan,’ he said.
Local coffee shop owner and FG Cllr Marie O’Sullivan is taking their ideas to the Council. ‘Every business everywhere is facing acute challenges when they reopen. Time is of the essence and local authorities will have a big role to play,’ she said.
The Kinsale Comeback Campaign aims to take the lead in shaping the town’s recovery, in terms of common purpose, innovation, ambition and delivery of a phased comprehensive action plan at the appropriate time.
The overall aim of the campaign will be to position Kinsale as one of the go-to holiday destinations for key markets over the next 12 to 24 months.