Prominently positioned at the interface between the coastal town of Bettystown and an expansive sand beach in County Meath on the east coast of Ireland this landmark new building will house a new public library, lifeguard station and facilities to encourage and support beach activities.
Strongly related to the beach and sea the building is elevated on a podium, set above the coastal flood level, which allows for a series of clearly defined spaces for public use with elevated views to the horizon. Composed of an ensemble of volumes the building is scaled sensitively to the small town context in order to not dominate the environment while presenting a bold and legible frontage to the beach.
It is intended that the building acts urbanistically as a clear landmark, signalling the transition from town to beach. The specific heights of each of the four blocks are determined in response to the scale of the surrounding context in order that the relatively large building form is able to sit harmoniously within the small town context.
Cumulatively the composition is expressed three-dimensionally as a cluster of volumes that are stepped in both plan and elevation. Rather than a single homogenous and monolithic form, the effect of this is to create a building with varied height and scale. In this way the discrete volumes of the building are scaled to sit harmoniously with the scale of the local context, comprised generally of individual buildings and in some instances of conjoined clusters of buildings. The proposed building seeks to mediate between the various scales of building in the local area in order to bring coherence to the town centre.
Providing a range of relatively autonomous functions (public library, beach-related facilities and lifeguard station) the objective at ground floor is to give distinct expression to the functions through a series of stepped blocks with an entrance to the core functions contained within distinct blocks. A fourth block contains a community room, which although part of the public library provision merits autonomous expression as a key space for collective, community use. The clustered plan arrangement at ground floor ensures that the building is understood as a single public building, servicing the needs of the community in and around Bettystown and the needs of Bettystown Beach as a significant public asset within the local area.
The site strategy is to establish a compact building footprint related in placement and scale to an existing three-house terrace and large shed which currently occupy the site. This enables the creation of an enhanced public route from the village centre to Bettystown Beach along the southern edge of the new building. Varying in width this route creates a series of public space opportunities with a south-facing orientation encouraging pedestrian use of the town centre. Public access from town centre to Bettystown Beach is enhanced via this primary pedestrian route that gives access to a series of entrances at ground floor serving the multiple activities at ground floor including public library, public toilets and shower facilities and a lifeguard station directly overlooking the beach. This route is conceived as a ‘boardwalk’ expressed with a consistent balustrade treatment and material palette to signify this important pedestrian link between town and beach. The ‘boardwalk’ opens out at its Eastern end to a wide set of steps generously giving onto Bettystown Beach.