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Ballyroan Library

Box Architecture Ltd.

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NicknameGary, Box Architecture

Project Name

Ballyroan Library



Marian Road


Project Status


Year Completed



1,510 sq. meters


South County Council


  • General Contractor: MDY Ltd
  • Burton O’Connor
  • Structural Engineer: Lohan & Donnelly
  • : Ramsay Cox & associates
  • ORS
  • Lighting Designer: Wink Lighting
  • BDA - Billings Design associates
  • Allegro Acoustics

Certifications and Designations

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Project Description

BALLYROAN LIBRARY - Dublin - Ireland - 2013
Box Architecture - Director: Gary Mongey, Dublin, Ireland

The library is the final piece of a commission that started in 2006. The existing 1980's library was outdated and undersized for the 300,000 unique visits it received each year. The commission involved the refurbishment of an existing Community Centre and provisions of a Pastoral Centre.

The site is like an island in the middle of a well established suburbia, built circa 1950’s and contains local shops, a church and a community centre with the existing library hidden behind the shops and contained within its own site with a 1.2m wall and a line of poplar trees dividing it from the church grounds. As the brief developed it became quite clear that the pastoral centre was a much larger building than initially envisaged and should be a separate entity. This allowed for the idea of creating a shared space between the three building, reinforcing and enhancing the already local circulation routes. Rather than the library being landlocked on its own site, it could become an integral part of the local civic centre. The three buildings received Part 8 planning in 2008 and the community and pastoral centres were completed in 2010.

The library was built in the 1980’s and served the community well over the past decades. However the library became outdated, in need of upgrading and became too small to deal with the collection of resources available to the community for reference or borrowing and to meet the changes in technology. After much consideration the existing building was demolished and rebuilt, doubling the size of the original library. A complete rebuild was deemed quicker, less disruptive, economic and a better environmentally sustainable solution.

The new building is part single and part two storey, two new entrances are provided, one to the north and one to the south, accessed from the shared space, entering into the double height internal street. This new internal street is a place to gather, check in or out a book, reading, gathering and to allow unrestricted access to information in a range formats and sources. The street is contained on one side by a timber lining denoting the public elements and snakes in and out of these areas clearly defining public and private areas. The timber element folds to become a ceiling and walls creating a gallery exhibition space on the southern end. Rather than traditional partition systems, movable timber clad panels, top hung with multiple tracks allow for an unlimited gallery layout to adapt to the user’s needs with discrete flexible hanging systems avoiding the need for sticking or pining.

A staff office is provided at ground floor for ease of access and monitoring. Two seminar rooms can be divided into separate entities of varying sizes allowing for flexibility but also allows for internet access for either singular use or in a class arrangement to maximise computer usage. Toilet facilities and other associated services elements are located in this area. On the other side of the internal street a large reading room is accessed through a series of concrete fins and a change in the ceiling heights denotes a quieter area. The layout of furniture can be arranged to suit the demographics of the users with loose furniture on casters positioned in varying layouts to suit varying needs. The reading room is open plan, lit from above by means of staggered roof lights with glass vertical planes on the north face bouncing and reflecting the southern light.

Along the perimeter timber pods surround the main space in the form of oriel windows providing more intimate reading areas, framing a suburban context. Some are singular, others larger for places to study, sit or read. A children’s area is located to the south with children’s furniture, books and computers and a storytelling area, this space can be closed off completely if required. The entire building is Wi-Fi enabled and study areas are spread throughout the main reading room. RFID systems are used to allow users self check in and out books. The timber lining folds and wraps to be become a public stairs guiding the public to the first floor. Upstairs is a long north facing ‘Memory Room’ holding heritage and local studies resources, serving as a research and study space. The main staff facilities and book storage are located on this level.

The car park to the south was remodelled to become a shared surface. This area with planted trees and benches, allows one to sit and read externally thus becoming part of the communal space. The area between the road and the oriel windows is landscaped to provide a buffer zone with seating. The new Library provides a rich spatial experience to users from all parts of the local community, broadening the scope of the library beyond the provision of book lending to that of a community learning and information resource suitable for the 21st century citizen.

The design and selection of furniture was part of our commission and a mix of bespoke pieces and off the shelf items. A simple pallet of colours where used creating a consistency throughout arising from the movable bookcase and colours of chairs, red, black and white.

The building is A3 rated, well insulated, walls externally insulated, floors and roofs all with U value of 0.15W/m2K or lower and triple glazing throughout. A ground source heat pump heats the building supplemented by solar panels and a back up gas boiler. Rain water is harvested and used for toilets. The building is designed as an airtight building obtaining a rating at 50pa of 2.1 m3/hr/m2. The reading room and internal street are naturally ventilated and the enclosed East two storey elements are mechanically ventilated.

The practice is an early adapter of BIM and has been using it since 2007. The Practice developed the use of BIM to a much more advanced level with this project and cannot imagine using 2D to design to build
buildings anymore. Everything was modelled, right down to the sockets, emergency lights etc. and we found this invaluable in achieving a building where everything has its place. We shared 3D image and the model with the contractors and discovered an incredible buy in from all the construction workers on site making sure everything was in the right place. If you model it in the model you have to deal with it in the computer world and this in turn leads to very little problems when on site. BIM is used on all projects in their office and really appreciates the enormous benefits it provides both as a design and communication tool, as well as for production information.
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