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Athlone Civic Centre Library - Central Square

  • Architect:
    Keith Williams Architects
  • Award Type:
    Best Sustainable Project 2005
  • Location: Leinster
Athlone Civic Centre Library - Central Square


Eastern Over €3m

Architect’s Comment
The new building and public square, situated north of St.Mary's Church on Church Street, Athlone’s historic artery, are the focal elements of a wider masterplan for the town’s future development.

The new building is composed from four prime elements.

The huge toplit public entrance vestibule contains the reception and ceremonial stair to the civic chamber, and is the building’s key organising space. Immediately to its right is the "one stop shop" with civic chamber above. To the left are two bar like forms, the lower containing the double height library, and the upper containing the secretariat on two levels.

The new architecture is intended to echo Athlone’s major stone built structures, the Castle, the Church of St Peter and St Paul and the Shannon Bridge. Each though separated by time, style and function, exhibits a solid formal consistency, which distinguishes Athlone’s civic structures from its traditional slate roofed, rough stucco architecture. The design of the new building continues that historic developmental pattern.

Clients’ Comment
The growth of Athlone in the 1990’s together with the decentralisation of services from the County Town to Athlone generated the need for new civic offices and a library.

The Civic Centre would be the first new building in this area and it was important that it be a landmark structure, set a standard for later developments, be of contemporary design but not compete with existing protected structures, provide the accommodation needs of customers and staff and reflect all the stature and presence expected from the town’s primary public building.  The Design Team has delivered the Council’s expectations and the striking design of the Centre has been acclaimed and warmly welcomed by the people of Athlone.  The building is complemented by the new Civic Square which incorporates and presents the conserved historic medieval town wall of Athlone.

The Town Council has recently decided to grant planning permission for a mixed 50,000m2 development beside the Civic Centre which has been pivotal to the successful regeneration of central Athlone.

The Athlone CivicCentre new buildingdemonstrates a very competent and integrated approach to energy- efficiency,withcross ventilation, high and low level windows, coffered exposed concrete slabs with integrated up lighters; brise soleil, which function as part of the overall composition of the building and not merely as a visual addition.

There is an absence of air conditioning, even in the council chamber, which is commendable. There is a grace, beauty and sophistication about the building and the fact that it does not shout sustainability demonstrates how environmentally sustainable design considerations can, with skill, be integrated with good architecture to the benefit of both.

This project is worthy of a sustainability award as it demonstrates that a finely crafted building can also have good environmentally credentials.