Deaton Lysaght Architects tendered for and have just been awarded the contract to transform Naas Town Hall into Naas Library for Kildare County Council.
Originally built as a gaol building in 1796, the former Naas Town Hall is a protected structure listed in the Kildare County Development Plan, and is rated as of National Importance in the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. The three-storey building was remodelled in 1904 in Italianate Classical style, and was used throughout the 20th century as a Town Hall, with the ground floor converted to use as a Carnegie Free Library. The building was renovated in 1990.
In addition to the adult lending library, there will be a junior section, reference areas, study spaces, RFID at the entrance, and access to multimedia items including CDs and DVDs, with access also to PCs, scanners and photocopiers where required. The Library as a cultural and social centre is also developed by the inclusion of an exhibition area and a multipurpose area which can accommodate book clubs, school lectures, seminars and cultural workshops in a variety of configurations.
While the current Chamber area is suitable as a Library space, it will need to be enlarged to comply with the space requirements outlined in the brief, with a new modern structure, filled with light, providing the additional space required. The supervision of the main library space can be carried out from the south-east corner of the building, adjoining the entrance.
At upper levels, the middle floor can accommodate meeting rooms and study areas. The top floor, accessed by the new stairs or lift, can accommodate the resource/ multifunction space, with an adjoining gallery and exhibition space, and staff facilities. In this arrangement, various lectures, exhibitions, seminars and community events can be held without opening up the entire building, enabling out-of-hours access to the building’s facilities.
The building will be required to comply with the Building Regulations, of which the most challenging will be Part B (Fire Safety), Part L (Energy Use) and Part M (Disability Access). It will be important to make balanced and reasoned decisions on the most practical and economic approach to compliance with the Regulations, consistent with the requirements of the brief, and the conservation of the building’s heritage value.
The building will require a detailed Architectural Conservation Study, including a full measured survey, condition survey, photographic survey and structural survey. Detailed historical research will identify the alterations to the building over the years, in parallel with a detailed measured survey, to identify the original built form, and the interventions which have since taken place. This information will inform the development proposals, and the options which will most closely enable the building to be adapted for its new use, with the minimum loss of original building fabric.