A bold new addition to the town of Dún Laoghaire, Ireland is set to open on the 8th December: dlr LexIcon. Contemporary libraries now have an extended role within the local community, with the requirements of educational and cultural events shaping the design of the building and the spaces within. This building, the result of an RIAI international competition held in 2007, exemplifies this new approach to library design and offers a mix of intimate and expansive public rooms, places to congregate, or to sit quietly with a book and enjoy the view.
Architects, Carr Cotter Naessens’ design creates a new public space that will transform the heart of Dún Laoghaire, leading visitors in a natural progression from the seafront up to the town. When viewed across the water, the building is a true landmark, it’s monumental window dramatically rising up towards the harbour, providing breathtaking views from inside.
Although a distinctly contemporary form, the library is clad in brick on the southern side to reflect the material palette of the Victorian high street and in granite across the rest of the building to respond to the historic context of Dún Laoghaire. The park also takes its cues from the past. The newly created public park is stepped to respond to changing levels, with a terraced water feature and bamboo garden on the site of an old granite quarry while a new public space on the footprint of the original bowling green is envisaged as a garden room, sheltered by a grove of trees. Here a grand staircase leads up to the library and cultural space at the higher level while the foyer cafe spills out on to the garden.
Internally, the library is presented as a ‘living room’, bathed in natural light from the window facing the sea. this communal space will house the most social elements of the building where groups can meet or individuals can read or access the internet. The library will also house separate reading rooms, a junior library, an auditorium, a cafe, an art gallery, a history department with study spaces, as well as staff facilities. The material of the building is spare, a voluminous concrete shell, into which are inserted oak linings for books and sound modulation.