Valentia, off the south-west coast of Kerry is an island of great beauty and contrast and an important port of call on the Wild Atlantic Way coastal touring route. Bray Head, at the western most point of the island, enjoys spectacular 360 degree cliff views of the Skellig Islands, as well as the Iveragh, Beara and Dingle Peninsulas. The location is rich in flora and fauna and archaeological traces. An outlook tower dating from the Napoleonic era was significantly modified in the Second World War.
This project brief was to develop a strategy to provide a safe environment to allow visitors to enjoy the views at this windswept cliff location. The HRA proposal wrapped the existing tower with a star-shaped level deck with each cardinal point addressing a particular view.
The plan arrangement refers to military coastal fortification from the 17th and 18th centuries such as Charles Fort in Kinsale.
The construction allows for further erosion of the adjacent cliff edge which has already caused significant demolition of the external compound walls. Support ‘bastions’ in board-marked concrete provide some shelter opportunities for hikers, while bridging elements in Corten steel complete the deck. A cantilevered section to the west provides an opportunity for visitors to see over the adjacent cliff edge and to watch the abundant bird-life below.