2009 – Cork County Library

Architect: Shay Cleary Architects



This library building is phase two of the Cork County Council Civic Campus. It is the headquarters for a twenty two branch county wide network of local libraries and provides administrative offices and a large book processing facility for Cork. There is limited public access at ground and first floors.

The site is flat and occupies an area immediately adjacent to the 16 storey County Hall Tower on its western side. It has the Carraigrohane Road to the North and the culverted Curragheen River to the south. The presence of the sixteen storey tower building which is a protected structure is a major factor in terms of context.

The building is L shaped in arrangement with a six storey wing on its western side enclosing a landscaped south facing public courtyard. A two storey horizontal wing encloses the space to the north. Custom designed benches and planters are placed throughout this space providing visitors to the complex with a major new amenity. The provision of this new public space is made possible by locating the large book processing facility and archive storage below the courtyard level.

The lower ground level provides accommodation for book selection, stock intake, processing and distribution for the entire county. The open plan work-area is lit and ventilated by two landscaped courtyards. These courtyards with reflecting pools and aluminium decking bring extensive daylight into the open plan work space. They are accessed from the adjoining areas through fully glazed screens on all sides.

The six storey block at ground floor contains the main entrance as well as public functions such as drama and music collections along with a flexible lecture and exhibition space. A centrally located staircase leads to the main public reading room at first floor level. A double height undercroft at the southern end of this wing provides loading and delivery space for books. On the second floor the arts office is located beside an extensive area for storage of genealogy, heritage and archival material. There is office space on all the upper floors.

The library is primarily a naturally ventilated building. It employs a combination of fixed vertical glass louvres and external automatic blinds which provide sun shading and protection from wind buffering allowing the opening of windows in comfort. The facade responds to the local climate ensuring optimal environmental conditions at minimum energy costs. The building employs the use of a ground source heat pump to reduce heating costs and ancillary cooling costs. The building has also been fitted with state of the art high frequency lighting technology with fully automatic lighting control responding to occupants presence and day lighting levels.