Visitor Centre at Hill of Uisneach

DescriptionVisitor Centre at Hill of Uisneach
TypeAdaptive Re-use, civic and Workplace
LocationMullingar, Co. Westmeath
TeamFrank Cooney, Bryan Brady, Ian MC Donald, Robin Jardine
PhotographyFiona Killeen
For the first time in recorded history we have a ‘welcoming space’ for those visiting the sacred Hill. The process of delivering the Centre was as important as the physically electrifying result, cooperation, skill, imagination and sensitivity combining, giving us a new type of heritage visitor centre. 
The principals of ‘The Hill’ are universal, grounded in pre-history. The most enduring legend of Uisneach is that it was the location for the first great fire to be lit in Ireland, ushering in the first dawn of summer, ‘Bealtaine’.   The centre was built to enhance user experience through scale, form, material and light.  Reusing an abandoned cottage, adding a 21st century layer in the form of new-build interpretive centre.  There is a warmth now, a welcoming space for visitors, a meeting place, community performance space.  Minimal intervention was applied to the cottage. The interpretive centre, of similar scale but contrasting, juxtaposing old and new, 21st century layer applied to previous created over millennia.   This sacred Hill has always been about community, human-diversity, inclusivity.  The design encourages participation, ensuring future usability and accessibility, enhancing the visitor experience.  Cooney Architects created a complex of buildings and space that is understated, overwhelming, welcoming and beautiful.
Article extract ‘Frank Cooney has pioneered energy upgrades and retrofit testing in historic structures recording results and practicing with an openness to experiment and feedback which steps beyond passive sacred cows’
Extract from the lead essay Materiality and Experimentation in Architecture by Marcus Donaghy MRIAIIrish architecture magazine issue 296
Publication 2017 – RIAI Irish architecture magazine issue 296: Materiality and Innovation
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