The Central Courtyard at Eskmills is the focal point of the main buildings, which all face onto it.
When originally build it was a green area with fountain in the middle, and cart track round the perimeter.
In 1982 it was a mess of buildings from different eras, a concrete canteen building, an electrical sub station, and a ruined Victorian office building, all overgrown and no original features left.
A decision was taken to restore this area as a central piazza with a contemporary feel, as opposed to recreating a “Victorian” pastiche which has been the norm elsewhere.
Visits to The Alhambra Palace in Granada, Park Andre Citroen, Instituit du Monde Arabe, and Park de la Villette, all Paris, by the developer, gave basis for what is now in place.
The hard paving is set out in numerical bays, based on 2 – 4 – 8 – 16 modules, in a style seen throughout the Arab World, similarly the reflective pools hark back to the Alhambra.
The Glass “tent” extension to what is now the Bistro, is straight from Park Andre Citroen in Paris.
The overall effect is one of clean simple lines, a tranquil space permitting the Victorian facades of the surrounding buildings to stand in all their glory and be seen to their best effect.
The Courtyard at night, with all building facades floodlit, the coloured uplighters around and into the reflective pools, and lights shining from the Bistro Glass tent, is a magical place.
A few of original features have been incorporated into the layout – the original weighbridge cover, the now glass covered well which gave water to the steam engines, and the iron gate pediment designed by Sir Robert Lorimer sits on pillars in the North West corner exit.
There are plans to use this Courtyard as a venue for open air acoustic music performances and plays.