Dun Laoghaire (competition)

The proposed library sits at a pivotal site in Dun Laoghaire – located at a key entry/exit point to the famous walk along the town’s piers, and the nexus between the breakwater, the pier and town.  Thus the site is a critical nexus between the adjacent buildings, piers, and Manor Park Hotel and its grounds.

The existing garden contains a number of distinct elements – a sports green, a water feature, and constructed landscape elements such as the hedge bounding Manor Park House.  In our proposal these elements are reconfigured and combined into a single composition –retaining both a historic link with the character of the site while projecting forward to the re-appearance of this place as a foreground to the library while providing the opportunity for a new specific garden element to ground and connect the new library with the site.  Thus, the lawn (to the manor) is linked to the sea and ferry connections beyond by a new element – a constructed pleasure garden which acts as a hub between the various connections so critical for this site.  That the garden contains the cultural centre’s galleries and theatres confirms it as a place cultural exchange and interface within the larger nexus of the garden system itself.

The library itself sits as an abstract element atop this new garden – a large scale monumental gesture balanced by its interface into the network of existing paths and routes through the Dun Laoghaire township and waterfront apron.  Its location on the arc of the train line and road provides an opportunity for the library building to signify presence from approach in either direction – achieved here via a massive cantilever which addresses the scale of the harbour and the ships within it.  This strategy gives form to both the local and regional roles of the library and subsequently provides a framework for the physical negotiation of these competing requirements.

The container form of the library suggests an ark for the books and other collections it is required to store for use by the residents of the region.  Some of these collections – such as the clocks - are located inside the ark but can be viewed from the public realm - enabling visitors to this important place to engage with these artifacts while making their own contribution to the life of the town.