A New Library and Public Space for Portarlington.


The new Library in Portarlington, Co. Laoise, is a refurbishment of the old library and its extension into the adjoining vacant courthouse, with which it shared a roof for over 60 years. The design solution was to open up the front facade to the Main Street with large window openings on either side of a central entrance, lending the building a grander civic scale and inviting the public in while providing an even balanced natural light to the interior. The centrally placed entrance is articulated by a low canopy roof edged with a red steel beam, reminiscent of local agricultural buildings. This theme is brought into the interior of the refurbished building where the central portion of the existing main roof is opened up to its ridge line and the original steel girders are exposed and painted in a matching red. The lofted central space leads directly on towards a new south facing rear courtyard and on either side of this lie the two main wings of the new library. A quiet, south lit reading space is opens out and orientates towards the external courtyard. The open plan arrangement is broken up by these axes and further by the placement of radiators that have been designed for their locations to serve as space dividers, allowing a screened view through their vertical fins to the spaces beyond.