McCullough Mulvin have library design at heart- the practice has specialised in designing libraries in Ireland and are currently working on a large academic library complex for Patiala University in the Indian Punjab- the Indian project contains space for 750 students in a radical new building designed like a natural landscape with trees on the roof filtering light to the readers below.
In Ireland, public libraries are the most interesting of challenges- its critical to remember they are public buildings; their internal spaces act very much as public space in Ireland’s wet climate- they are – or could be- real foci for 21st century life.
Libraries should be strikingly innovative contemporary designs which are open in nature, welcoming and encouraging of access- they should let people see in and want to come in- but- if properly considered- they can also be ‘embedded’- reflecting their place and local culture; the original design for Kilkenny City Library included gables offering both a dramatic use of light and space internally and a form appropriate to its local context. The buildings themselves should tell a story; they make a PLACE – like an extension of the town street, where a conversation started outside continues and expands within.
Uniquely combining contemporary design ability with Conservation Grade 1 skills in one, the practice has achieved this in completely new libraries like Thurles in Co Tipperary, where the library - combined with a gallery and theatre- opens large windows back towards the town; Rush Library in Fingal is installed like a timber slipper in the body of a disused church on the village green; Blackrock County Dublin, completed in 2014, is an extension to an existing library built in and under a new school. Waterford City Library is an ingenious combination of new and old with an internal city square at its core; it tells the story of the city it stands in; both it and Blackrock are former Carnegie Libraries.
Design combines knowledge with innovation. Key to success- apart from low maintenance and flexibility- is a calm clarity of intent – good ( and varied ) light, an inspiring space, a clear disposition of functions with the right kind of space for children and young adults, but also a sufficient mixture of spaces and corners in the library where people can feel comfortable, where supervision is present but relaxed in nature. Intelligent services and close attention to furniture design are critical. Library staff need to be properly treated, with well-lit, warm and well- positioned facilities; storage needs to be integrated from the outset ( the practice completed the award-winning state-of the-art Military Archives historic library and archive project in 2017 ).
Working also as leading third-level educational architects in Ireland, McCullough Mulvin has significant knowledge of academic and educational practice with great potential for library design, in particular emerging approaches to third-level integrated teaching methods using concepts of fluid space, maker space, inclusive space, mixing bowls. The 21st century will be able to deliver completely new and exciting ways of thinking about library use- a much wider horizon of lending ( Ipads, software ), book mixing, new ways of linking library and personal digital technology, new ways of using space as ‘ laboratories’ ( ie memory labs for personal archiving, self publishing, making appropriate ‘senior’ areas as well as children ), new approaches to alternative use of library space. Libraries have the potential- and should have the ambition- to the focal spaces of 21st century community life.
Built Public Libraries
Waterford City Library
Unbuilt Public Libraries
Kilkenny City Library ( 2 schemes )
Military Archives Library.
TCD Ussher Library.
Long Room Hub.
Dental Hospital Library
Parnell Square – Seamus Heaney library.
Scheme for Naas Library.
Scheme for Ennis Library.
Scheme for Goethe Library.