Robin Lee Architecture, in association with Arthur Gibney and Partners, has completed Wexford County Council Headquarters in Ireland. The project won in an international competition organised by the RIAI in 2006, and is the first building to be completed since Lee’s practice Nord LLP was renamed Robin Lee Architecture in April 2011.
The building sits on a sloping site on the outer fringes of Wexford town, in South East Ireland, with lovely views of the River Slaney Estuary and the Blackstairs Mountains. It brings together the services and departments of Wexford County Council that, until now, have been housed separately within the center of the town.
The new headquarters gives identity to the collective endeavor of the council as a unified organization, while giving individual expression to the separate departments and their unique activities. The accommodation is laid out as a series of six discrete blocks; each block houses key services and individual departments. The blocks are gathered around a large central space, a ‘civic forum’, which gives access to all of the council facilities.
Open and fully accessible, the space supports the way-finding strategy with enquiry desks, public counters and informal seating throughout. It allows the building to be navigated in a safe and efficient manner, while offering opportunities for civic ceremonies, presentations and social gatherings. Separating the blocks, and filled with planting and serene pools of still water, courtyards bring light into the deeper portions of building and connect the interiors with the surrounding landscape, providing a sense of place and context. These spaces combine to place social interaction at the heart of the building and allow the public realm to pervade the whole building at ground floor.
Internally walls and floors are clad in Irish Blue Limestone, a material which is synonymous with the rich history of civic buildings in Ireland, creating a sculpted interior volume with a calm, refined atmosphere. An outer layer of glass wraps around the blocks and acts as the outer skin of a double façade. This provides protection on an exposed site but also regulates the interior temperature through the control of air around the building; cooling the building in the summer and creating an insulating layer during the winter.