Europan 11 Proposal: ‘Counterspace’ / CODA

Courtesy of

In typography, the ‘Counter’ is the space contained by letters (this is where monkish Irish Illuminators famously had space to play). For the monks, the space between the letters was as meaningful as the letters themselves. In ‘Counterspace’, the winning proposal by CODA for the Europan 2011 competition in , the linear forms of the traditional rows are transformed and interwoven to create a range of counterspaces: from enclosed collective space for safe children’s play, to urban plaza for adults’ lattés. Just like on the 19th century street of industrial terraced , the life of the community happens in the space between the rows of housing, in the counterspace. More images and architects’ description after the break.

Courtesy of CODA


The project initiates a series of interventions which extend the streetspace and push out over the river, creating an urban balcony, as well as multiple footbridges which extend all the way to Fairview Park. Further the Park’s river edge is articulated to re-define the connection between the two sides and enliven the riverfront on the park. The site has two edges: an urban (read waterfront/industrial) and a suburban to the south. The scale and form of the proposed forms is in response to this change of scale from the house to the crane. Each slinky linear form acts as a stitch between the two scales.

Courtesy of CODA


The pulsating stitches leave spaces for play and interaction in-between.
- Collective Greens: These three collective spaces are lawns for ball games, and also include playground furniture for small children.
- Urban Plazas: Urban spaces along East Wall Road connect the urban/water-side with the public programs of cafés, community center, pool, etc. which spill out onto the sunny courtyards. In addition, the project proposes an expansion of these squares as balconies onto the river as part of the regeneration of the Tolka River plan.

plan 01

Community Retail and Leisure

Accessed from the urban plazas on East Wall Road, the large space contained between Xs (under the collective green) includes a swimming pool and a community center, which is to be used for after school care in the daytime and for community meetings and performances in the evenings. The program also accommodates a café, medical clinic, a crèche, a grocery shop, offices, a laundry, and a spa.

plan 02

The Next Generation Rowhouse

The new housing typology exaggerates the existing characteristics of the slender row-house form, the stair, the chimney, and the elongated garden, arriving at a unit with a very specific identity emerging out of its very functional parts.
- Shimney: Aside from continuing the profile of the existing housing rows, and giving a nod to the doclands aesthetic, the always-south-oriented-and-45-degree-tilted solar chimney (“shimney”) has three functions: 1. It houses solar panels which provide enough energy for one household. 2. The interior periscope, visible as one ascends the stair, allows a constant but inverted view of Fairview Park and reminds of the adjacent resource, and 3. Its north-facing vent (facing away from prevailing south-west wind) stimulates natural ventilation.

plan 03


Sustainability is about more than hi-tech solutions. Fundamentally sustainability needs to be a response to the site that is about orientation, materials, openings, and form. In Counterspace the ‘X’ forms are generated to maximize the solar incidence both in the courtyards and on the elongated south facade. This will contribute to passive solar gain in the dwellings and encourage inhabitation of outdoor space.

water diagram plan

The narrowness of the dwellings means that south (and east-west) light will penetrate through most of the dwelling and the super-insulated north facade will have only small openings for views. This north wall is a moss wall whose foliage adds to the insulation capabilities of this surface. (The small openings also ensure that while the collective gardens are well observed, there is not a privacy issue between residences).

Cite: Furuto, Alison. "Europan 11 Proposal: ‘Counterspace’ / CODA" 28 Dec 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <>
  • Leonard B

    This is the paradigm of everything i don’t like about today’s architecture. All the kitschy renders who are there to hide all the technical and engineering naivety,lack of creativity and structural seriousness and complexity.

  • Robb

    They forgot to add helium gas balloons in renders. So hot right now.

  • pushkin

    Chaos, disinformation…
    Even the simple cube looks dynamic in a wide angle camera.

  • leslie

    Here’s what the jury wrote: “This dreamlike scheme is 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.”