The site is strategically located at the intersection of the main road and the stream leading to Levi’s Quay with its bridge over the River Ilen and to the marsh beyond. Its pivotal position in Skibbereen makes it the perfect location for a landmark building intended to become a social focus for the town.
The centre will be approached over a new bridge leading to a public courtyard in front of the building. This courtyard can be used for the display of sculptures and for occasional outside performances and it forms a useful and attractive introduction to the facilities inside.
The building is made up of two parts. On the ground floor the courtyard opens into a foyer which forms the hub of the building. A large naturally top-lit gallery leads directly off the foyer which also allows access to the stairs as well as to the retail shop, WCs and lift.
This low “plinth” that wraps round the courtyard is of a scale and form that relates directly to the pitched roofed buildings that surround the site. Sitting on this plinth, the tower forms the second part of the structure. Twisting slightly as it rises from its base the tower directly addresses the town and provides both a focus and a watchtower giving exciting views both from inside and outside.
The ground floor gallery is an ideal space for showing all kinds of art. With 3.5m high walls and an articulated ceiling it will be naturally top-lit and well proportioned. The retail space has access both from the courtyard and the foyer thereby functioning both as an independent unit and as part of the Arts centre.
The tower is made up of a series of open rooms that can serve a variety of purposes. Our current layout places the performance space on the first floor with easy access to the foyer and entrance courtyard. The space makes use of the twisted base of the tower by using the slope for raked seating and the angled ceiling and walls will create an energetic space that can be well lit through the sloping south facing rooflight.
The other facilities comprising administration, studios, workshops, a dance studio and a second top-lit gallery are arranged on the upper floors ensuring public access throughout the tower.
Externally the East face of the tower can be used as a screen for projected images – emphasising its function and advertising the building as a cultural centre for Skibbereen.