Connolly's of Leap

Leap, Co. Cork, Ireland

At the southern coast of Ireland sits Connolly's of Leap - a cherished watering hole and long-running fixture of the Irish music scene.  The good news? It is a wildly popular music venue, attracting a constant stream of talent to a shoebox back-room theatre. The bad news? It is just slightly larger than an actual shoebox.

How can we improve and expand upon a community treasure such as Connolly's, without ruining the charm that makes it so popular in the first place? Via Chicago explored an approach that is as delicate as possible by keeping the majority of new work literally below ground. By further excavating an existing rear garden, Connolly's can expand laterally to create a stepped "lower yard" for overflow crowds or simply to enjoy an outdoor pint. Folding doors to this new courtyard would be nestled below an existing low-slung balcony, minimizing their impact on the classic theatre.