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2006 – Solstice Arts Centre, Navan, Co. Meath

Architect: Grafton Architects

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The space includes a 320-seat theater, three visual-arts areas and a café bar. At a cost of 13.5 million euro, Solstice is now hailed as one of the Republic’s most impressive arts venues outside of Dublin. It was funded by a grant of €2.9m from the Department of Arts Sport and Tourism, some local contributions and the significant balance from Meath County Council and Navan Town Council. Originally it was primarily meant to facilitate a theatre building and courthouse, but over the course of its development it emerged as a hybrid of interchangeable spaces appropriate also to visual art. The centre was designed to reinstate the centre of the town and is intended to operate as a civic monument for the people of Navan and elsewhere.

The sloping ground and the geometry of the site have contributed to the dynamic form of the building. A civic space occupies the southern edge of the site. This space forms the main entrance to the new facility. The theatre space is located to take advantage of the sloping site and creates an intimate public room with a unique character. The fly tower is integrated into the roof while actors’ dressing rooms and scene dock are located at the lower ground floor level.

The arts centre is called Solstice – a name that references the ancient rituals associated with the county and the light that the arts bring to this community.