Designing the DLR Lexicon

The DLR Lexicon was first FIRMLY DENOUNCED, then applauded for its SPATIAL DRAMA

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Less than one year after opening its doors, Dun Laoghaire’s library and cultural centre, the Lexicon has already scooped a number of awards including “Best Cultural” and “Best Public Building” in the 2015 Irish Architecture Awards and has been shortlisted for the prestigious World Architecture Awards. The building’s architects, husband-and-wife team Louise Cotter and David Naessens, will travel to Singapore in November to present the project to the international jury.

How it began Cotter and Naessens  studied architecture at UCD, graduated in 1983, and headed to London, which they describe as the “architectural capital of Ireland”. “It seemed the obvious place to start one’s career,” says Naessens. Both worked with renowned practices on major cultural and university buildings. They returned to Ireland in 2001. In 2007, their Cork-based practice Carr Cotter Naessens won an RIAI international design competition for a library and cultural centre in Dun Laoghaire.

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A controversial project? Maybe so, but public opinion now rates the building for its design and its impact on the community. “We think the schedule of activities speaks for itself – the Lexicon is a cultural and social focus for the neighbourhood and county and the project also has a place, physically and culturally, in the greater Dublin Bay area. We never thought we’d see queues of teenagers at the doors of a library! The Lexicon is a civic place. People are the essential component in the ensemble of spaces, which come alive with movement, the changing light and rhythms of the day.”

Division of labour? “We could each concentrate on specific aspects, with the big picture in mind. One of us would take the lead on particular stages, in line with our particular skill sets.”

What’s next? “We’re excited about presenting the Lexicon at the World Architecture Festival. We have also been successful in a number of housing framework applications. This is important work, building on the foundations of our towns and cities for future generations as well as immediate needs. Housing tends to be seen as a mere commodity, but the places where people live and meet are the basis of a functional and healthy society and should be developed in a holistic and integrated manner.”

www.ccnarchitects.net  

For more, see our Autumn 2015 issue of THE GLOSS Interiors, which is out this weekend, free with The Irish Times — don’t forget to pick up your copy.

Sandra Andrea O’Connell