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TULLAMORE ARTS CENTRE - RIAI Competition Entry 2011



The vision and intention of developing a multidisciplinary community arts centre in the heart of Tullamore, stems from a much documented need to converge and focus the creative potential of Tullamore; its artists, its young people and the wider community. The activity at the centre will harness and

be a catalyst for this creative potential by providing opportunities for participation in the arts as well as presenting a dynamic programme of local, regional, national and international arts events. Our ambition for an arts centre in Tullamore is to provide the missing piece of our jigsaw, to drive the community, cultural and economic potential of this vibrant Midlands town.


We envisage the building to be a place for convergence and celebration or to find a quiet corner to read a poem painted upon a wall. This will be a place where drama groups will rehearse, writers groups will meet, tutors will conduct classes, musicians will practice and artists will create; it will be a 

place to experience theatre and dance, enjoy readings, exhibitions and seminars, to hear, see and feel new experiences.



Our intention is to develop a versatile space which should take full advantage of the site’s proximity to the Grand Canal, board walk and the Heritage centre. This building should be a significant civic centre and one which is inviting to enter and be part of. A significant part of the programme will be child and youth centred, so the building must also reflect the young person’s imagination as well as an adult’s ambition. 



The building sits upon a podium slab. Its two primary uses, Arts and Theatre, are separated to create two distinctive blocks which are connected to parking below through a Part M compliant sculptural access ramp and staircase, which together rise from a lower garden. A bridge spanning between the buildings links the park and public space at the front of the building. This also serves to re-claim the lower garden and with it the buildings into the parkland, interlinking this newly formed public amenity and the established surrounding landscape.

Each building has a depth of no more than 16 metres in order to achieve natural ventilation throughout. A detailed façade study will integrate ventilation and openable sections as well as achieving the necessary shading in terms of solar gain and heat loss. This depth of 16 metres has a secondary design function. It allows the car park to be spanned in one beam, removing columns from the area where the cars manoeuvre and making it an easily navigated and accessible space, whilst also maximising parking provisions.


The building expresses all of its uses in section, which is visible through the folding roofscape. This allows for an optimum section to be achieved where every available space is being utilised to house office space, ventilation space, suspended acoustic panelling, suspended ceiling, information technology & communications equipment, specialist lighting & audio equipment, plant & services etc. 




Whereas the main aim within the building is to respond to the brief and to create ideal usage conditions, the exterior facade is intended to direct attention to the buildings role as a centre of vibrancy and activity within the community. The facade presents itself almost as an abstract painting. It creates a solid and void relationship along its skin mirroring the interior uses. It becomes solid where privacy and darkness are needed (eg. gallery / theatre areas) and very sparse / more transparent where the interior activity and public nature of the interior spaces creates the vibrancy of colour.

The exterior skin is multi-layered. In front of the substructure and the architectural panels (containing thermal insulation and glazing panels) there is a vertical emphasis created by aluminium rods which are highly coloured using prime colour families. The rods, in families of differing colour mixes and tones (light-medium-dark), are arranged such that the building appears to solidify and separate along its façade.


As a whole, the façade create opportunities where manipulation of the rods allow for countless visual variants of material and structure so that transparent and solid elements change as the person walks past, around and through the building. Seen from afar, the colour groups coalesce to form a neutral colour with respectively differing levels of brightness and tone. Viewed from up close, each of these fields resolves into its individual colour. 

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