DUN LAOGHAIRE LIBRARY – INSIDE THE NAVAL WEDGE

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A tour around the inside of the DLR Lexicon brings a calm to its rather stormy inception.
I visited the controversial Dún Laoghaire library this morning. The newly appointed and infamous DL landmark designed by Carr, Cotter and Naessens.
As a designer it was pretty much a ‘wow-fest’ from the get go. My previous disgruntled opinions of scale and position to the coast were left behind as I overindulged in a plethora of symmetry, contrasting wood finishes, concrete slabs and geometrically positioned lighting. In the WC area glass mosaics grace the walls, plenty of contrast with concrete and interesting recesses throughout, particularly the ceiling recesses above the sink areas appealed.
What really struck me on closer analysis was that this is a building whereby each surface and space was designed in detail and to death. Meaning that thought, concept & creativity was not abandoned in one part in favor of another. I took to the fire escape stairs and felt that even here, an atmosphere and an ‘experience’ was created both through lighting (and lighting units) and indeed the handrails & ballisters – there  was as intercom at the disabled refuge in case of fire – truly it was all thought out.
I had originally looked at the plans for the exhibition  area thinking it might have been a token gesture or after thought at the time, however I was happily  corrected to see a properly lit and generously adequate gallery space.
Throughout the main upstairs section it’s all about the symmetry – its engaging and graphic. You look up towards the ceiling and again – its all detail – bespoke wood  joinery produced by Tru-wood.
As I perused the different sections of the building certain details really stood out – one of particular interest was the push lock unit fitted to the toilet doors which would allow one to open the door either inwards or outwards.

The sheer scale of all the open areas is fantastic – albeit it big – the wood pellet burning system kept the large space at an agreeable temperature. The heat emanated from removable floor panels (again beautifully designed) along the sides of the rooms that doubled as access for maintenance.
some of the design details such as the floating silver balls hanging from the ceiling in the main library area add an interesting contrast to the concrete back drop, and the subtle relief of the town and harbour was a nice touch – understated but again a great idea.
One could write a thesis on this building – a space for millions of words, but as a picture can tell thousands, I’ll leave it to the following…

Michael Ó Mara November 2014.

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