The existing public library on Lady Lane in Waterford City required complete refurbishment and an extension onto an adjoining site (an undertaker's yard) to provide better library and information resource facilities for the 21st century. Constructed in 1905, the existing building has a Classical facade in smooth sawn Kilkenny limestone. A lower elevation of rusticated limestone to Bakehouse Lane was terminated by a small caretaker's/librarian's house. Internally, the spaces centred on a double height roof-lit reading room. The plan had been substantially altered during extensive remedial works carried out in the 1970s.
The project, now L-shaped with the addition of the new site, offered opportunities for juxtaposition between a modern building and layered intervention into the fabric, especially in the manipulation of section and light to create a new diagonal circulation across the plan. The existing entrance was closed up and transferred to the extension. This new block fills the site with entrance and mezzanine within the same volume at ground floor. There is a library level over and staff facilities in a set-back floor which emerges out of the new building and extends across to pin the existing library. The floors stop short of the rear wall to provide a full-height void.
Internally, the existing building was renewed and the double-height reading room lined out with a dark timber skin which hides and reveals the old structure beneath it. Balconies cross it at different levels. The space between old and new is fluid. There is a sense of the external envelope running from board-marked concrete to painted brickwork. Using light and section, the project tries to forge a link between the elements, moving from entrance mezzanine to reading room across the plan. A new storey was also added to Bakehouse Lane, echoing the language of the new extension, making it a three-dimensional city block rather than a flat street elevation on Lady Lane alone. Facade choices were made to establish the continuity of limestone across the new elevation, but the new works were given a different stone patterning to establish their integrity.
As featured in Detail Magazine