development in Athlone

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      rob mc


      Client: Gallico Developments Ltd
      Site Area: 80,000 sq.m. (approx)
      Status: Completion 2007

      Athlone Town Centre can be seen as a new urban quarter adjacent to the footprint of the historical quarter of the town. The site is an assemblage of infill and backland plots, ‘brownfield’ uses and semi-derelict structures comprising 2.9 hectares in the centre of Athlone.

      Its location and physical attributes are fundamental to the architectural and urban design approach pursued. The challenge, to insert a large mixed use development in to an historic setting, was assisted by the shape, topography and particular features of the site. The project is about ‘stitching and mending’ existing streetscapes, and making connections and spaces, as much as it is about giving appropriately authentic contemporary expression to its core function, the retail centre. Exploiting the site gradient effectively conceals all parking, servicing and delivery facilities on two subterranean levels, eliminating vacuous expanses of surface parking and allowing the range of new buildings to extend towards and integrate with existing development on all edges. A new order is overlaid on the site, imposing a pattern of streets and lanes, squares and courtyards on land that was hitherto excluded from the fabric of the town.

      The project accommodates an appropriately diverse use-mix of over 50 retail units; 148 residential units in disaggregated blocks of apartments and townhouses set around squares, courtyards and playgrounds; restaurants and cafes; a crèche and a primary healthcare facility; and a 178 bedroom hotel rising to an 11 storey signature tower at its core, heralding the commercial centre of town.

      Hotel Development
      The 11 storey hotel has 178 bedrooms with related public and service areas over 10,777 sq. m. of accommodation, consisting of two restaurants, one bar, a generous foyer, a function room, meeting/seminar rooms, ancillary kitchens, staff areas, toilets and storage areas, a public viewing gallery and a telecommunications support structure with antenna.
      The hotel is the central iconic element of the eight acre mixed-use redevelopment in Athlone’s town centre and it will have a pivotal role in promoting and sustaining day and night activity throughout the week and year – thereby assisting in the consolidation of the town centre as a destination. The tonal range of external finishes from a sophisticated curtain walling to the tower, through to the use of sandstone is warm, light, responsive and visually rich. By treating the skin of the accommodation blocks differently, and by introducing a curvilinear geometry to one “wing” any potential negative impacts of mass are mitigated. Equally the building is “read” in different ways from a variety vantage points.

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