Cork City


Library: Where architecture meets practicality

Bishopstown Library is a visually striking building. It is located between Wilton Shopping Centre, one of the largest hospital complexes in Ireland, the CUH, and the historic African missions church. It has to make a statement, and make it it does. Imaginative and practical use was made of the limited site. The library, spread over three floors, with its atrium spilling light onto the space below during daytime, and acting as a beacon at night. Its twenty-first century design with twenty-first century materials and fittings says to the people of Cork that libraries are important, relevant and places to explore and enjoy. Bishopstown Library's signature is its use of glass and terracotta and fibre cement. The glazed facade gives the library an informal, inviting and accessible feel. As you enter the building, you appreciate that architecture really does meet practicality. Everywhere you go is bright and welcoming, with lots of natural light for reading and enjoying the space. The light makes the library attractive and inviting but as the glazing is to the east and north, it reduces to a minimum any problems of glare or heat retention. The internal geography of the building is easy to read. You immediately see that the area to the left is for children and the area to your right houses music, DVDs and novels. The desk is straight ahead, and the stairs to the first floor is there in front of you as you enter inviting you to explore further. The information desk is the first thing people see on going upstairs. The need to be adaptable and flexible was the first thing on the design agenda. All services, and offices and staff facilities, are along the back and western sides with much of the building given to open space. We can, if the need arises, easily adapt and change the layout of the interior. Another key feature of Bishopstown Library is its multipurpose spaces, which can be used when the rest of the building is closed to the public.These are: a ultipurpose space opening off the Children's Library; a glass-enclosed multipurpose space on the first floor, and, an innovation for Cork City Libraries, a group study room. We make these available to the community outside normal opening hours as they are accessed by a secondary entrance. Bishopstown Library is anything but a 'lending factory'. Here, you'll find lots of opportunities to sit and read, on sofas, easy chairs and study tables in the lounging area near the desk, upstairs looking over the cityscape. The western suburbs of Cork have a new front parlour and everyone's welcome to call, stay a while, and then come back.