A2 Architects have won the open, two-stage design competition for the new Tullamore Community Arts Centre. Promoted by Offaly County Council, the competition sought proposals for a multidisciplinary venue in the heart of Tullamore, which would 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.
The jury reported that “This scheme is permeable, responsive and flexible. Designed with one level, the plan initially appears straightforward with each of the key programme elements enclosed in individual boxes, discreet and perfectable. The circulation is subtle, roof-lit and flowing, allowing for a variety of additional uses while remaining flexible and interactive with the main programme spaces. The building deploys a key use to each façade – café and gallery to the canal, theatre-stage to the park, arts rooms to the street to the east and offices/main entrance to the south and the town beyond. The square contained shape is modest. Engaging actively with its context and with an elegant proportion, it achieves civic status. The built language is restrained but both permeable and comprehendible. The mix of limestone and ‘Corten’ panels achieves civic quality while remaining empathetic to the texture of the nearby barges and declining structures dating from the town’s industrial heritage.
The designers responded fully to the suggestions of the jury after Stage 1. The structure, materials and building services strategy were brought forward successfully and integrated into the developed sketch design. The clarity of approach and specific response to each of the brief’s elementsm reassured the jury that the project was deliverable and cost control achievable through the upcoming stages.
This project best understood the demands of the brief and the site, finding a balance of ambition and decorum in its architectural language.”
Criteria were a distinctive municipal building of contemporary architecture with good use of natural materials and light, environmentally sound in its build and daily use. Shortlisted practices were Grafton Architects, Lawrence and Long Architects and Robinson McIlwaine Architects.