The Athy Library has been developed by Reddy A+U as a sympathetic conversion of St. Dominic’s Church. The building, nestled on the western bank of the River Barrow, is the first of Ireland’s modern churches. The building, inspired by the spirit of Vatican II in the 1960’s, has been converted into a state-of-the-art library and auditorium for the local community as a landmark project jointly funded by Kildare County Council and the Irish Government.
The building has been completely transformed from the former Dominican Church into a modern, inviting and inspiring place for community members to enjoy. The success of the project has led to a contemporary yet functional library with furniture and lighting to match and enhance this wonderful space.
The project includes a delicate change of use of the protected structure from a church to a library and auditorium. The works consisted of an extension to the mezzanine level as well as the insertion of new windows to the single storey North and South facades. The famous stained glass was carefully restored and a new library fit-out was provided to rejuvenate the church which was underutilised.
The church building lies both within a conservation zone and adjacent an archaeological protection and is in close proximity to the River Barrow, a Natura 2000 site. The acquisition of this significant building and conversion to a library will ensure that the building will provide a public amenity for Athy for generations to come, while safeguarding the protected structure from deterioration.
Reddy A+U provides innovative design strategies, including demountable solutions to create a flexible hub space that can facilitate the IT, storage, study, performance, information and service requirements of a modern functioning library, and allow for future reconfiguration and use. The library is also one of the first to incorporate the open 24 library system including the state-of-the-art RFID system.
The design team worked with the client to deliver on their ambitious programme to retain the unique character, spatial and light qualities of the Church, while providing a functional and comfortable library space which will engender multiple uses and be a joy to visitors and staff alike.