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A new public library for Athy at the town’s former Dominican Priory, with contemporary reading, lending and IT facilities all provided. The project involved the conversion of St. Dominic’s Church, a Protected Structure, with extensive refurbishment of historic fabric.

Floor area
(9,803 ft² )

Athy, Co. Kildare


The design brief called for the conversion of St. Dominic’s Church, a protected structure located close to the banks of the River Barrow, to provide a new public library for Athy.

From the outset, the design response acknowledged the main volume of the former church as a large and flexible open plan space which could be adapted to suit future service direction.

At ground floor, the inherent flexibility of the host structure has been programmed to provide clear traffic flow, optimal accessibility, economic deployment of staff and self-service in parallel. Similarly, the library’s multipurpose area is designed to facilitate a diverse array of uses; furniture can be arranged or stored as necessary to accommodate floor exhibitions, lectures, workshops, conferences and training.

The overarching goal of the design team was to develop a space which would invite an initial visit, holding the attention of the building user and encouraging further visits.

Principles of the Design Proposal:

The works comprised internal strip-out and demolition, levelling of existing floors and the coordinated arrangement of differing footprints on two levels to provide open library space, new staff areas, public toilets, storage areas, a comms room and a meeting area.

In respect of the former church’s status as a Protected Structure, key project requirements included the sensitive refurbishment of existing building fabric, ranging from the protection of cut stone stations of the cross to the cleaning and restoration of stained glass windows.

The library fit-out included joinery elements such as fitted shelves and furniture and the installation of specialist IT equipment such as Open Library technology and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology.