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At a strategic point (a crossing) along the River Slaney, Tullow Civic Centre and Library acts as a collection point for Community and Local Authority activities. The site itself is hinged between the River and the Local Inner Relief Road and is set against the backdrop of the town when viewed initially from the bridge. The site is also a “found” space, as previously it was un-inhabited with the exception of a 19th Century Baliff’s Hut, which has been retained as part of the siteworks.


The aim of the project was to (re)present the functions of Local Government at the scale of the community. The long-term ambition for the project (not only the building) is that a series of woven connections will present themselves within the spaces provided; an assemblage that will connect people and those places. The architectural strategy sought to articulate the position of public facilities within the framework of the Town Centre. This required an understanding of the variety of scales of the building, and the position of the building to its immediate surroundings, which seek to mediate the relative adjacency of the building to the street, the town and the river. It is a process of careful construction- or mapping of these intersecting territories, it was considered that these considerations could provide clues to the nature of new types of connections- and made possible within a changing programmatic framework of local government.


The building then- seeks to establish a range of characteristics by way its physical construction, its palette of materials, its smoothness in horizontal and vertical sections and importantly, the flexibility and legibility of its internal layout. These correspond in specific ways to the idea of creating a more heterogeneous environment, to move away from the notion of a monolithic institution. It is an attempt to develop an architectural condition, which continually resists the sedentary, the single fixed perspective. Instead it suggests that architecture can derive a (con)textual condition from being conceived as a multiple rather than a singularity, and whereby the terrain, the individual and the institution are all part of an evolving dynamic- themselves continually re-defining these overall conditions.


What is apparent from the use of the building so far, is that the architecture has been flexible in dealing with the various demands exerted upon it by everyday activities. The public interface with the building has accelerated the use of key facilities such as the Library, whilst the positioning of the building so close to the River edge has created a significant promenade for public use. The continued aspiration for the project will be that the developing political and social issues relevant to the evolution of the program can be accommodated within the architectural ‘text’ of the Civic Centre and Library.


Design : Jason O’Shaughnessy (A537)

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