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A Town Hall for Armagh

Part 1 Project 2009
Sean Mcneary
Queen's University Belfast | UK
The brief asked for the creation of a democratic forum and a place of open public debate on a difficult site dominated by a double storey car park and an adjacent large shopping centre on a sloping site in Armagh.

The aim was to establish the site as the political hub of Armagh, that also invites the public to share in the life of the building. By creating an urban square it forms an attractive meeting place and centre for Armagh while creating a new urban constituent within the town. The civic square would house activities such as concerts and local markets.

The building meditates with its surroundings while integrating its surroundings into the building. Connecting not confronting, all faces engage with what is there to blend out of the existing urban fabric rather than over power it. Interior spaces interact with exterior spaces with an open accessibility to the building while manipulating the familiar forms of terraced brick facades and Georgian fronts.

New and old movement patterns are reinforced creating flow in and around the site, connecting and stitching the three main focal points of the town, The Mall, Market Square and the main shopping route within the town.

Sean Mcneary

The nominee project was selected for the approach of breaking the building into smaller constituent council functions and connected together via an open courtyard. The courtyard acts both as an inviting sunny space and forum for public debate but also has an orangery, a tradition tied to the local agriculture. From both the courtyard and the main street one is able to see the procession of councilors to the chamber which is placed in a tower at south east corner. This has symbolic meanings in several fronts, firstly to create visual connection to the public on the street of the deliberations going on in the council chamber (people representatives), secondly to reinforce the corner of the street and give it the honour and dignity that such a building deserves. The building steps back from the street to the south creating a public space and allows for its position on the street to be strengthened. The plan configuration also allows for the public to walk through the site north south direction connecting two parts of the city that had historical separation.

Mr Sean Mcgivan
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