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Kilmallock Library and Courthouse wins RIAI Award for ‘Best Public Building’.

Brian McCarthy Contractors were the Main Contractors for this development which was officially opened in July.

The new courthouse is described by District Court President, Judge Miriam Malone as, “both pleasing on the eye and complimentary of the heritage and antiquity around us. It pays tribute both to the essence and importance of the law in our lives, and to the excellence of the design and construction efforts which brought it to fruition”.

New courthouse
It is central to a new civic precinct which will reinvigorate the cultural and civic life of Kilmallock when combined with access to civil administration facilities (the local authority area office and the branch library). The excellence of the design has already been recognised in the recent RIAI Award for ‘Best Public Building’.

Works on the courthouse
As nothing of the original interior remained, the building was stripped to form a great double-height hall as a new entrance.

The courtroom, accessed via a lobby which allows views to the garden beyond, is walnut-panelled in contrast to the cool entrance hall. This space, with its dark furnishings and filtered light, is in the tradition of Irish courtrooms dating from the 19th century. A suite of private meeting rooms and accommodation for legal practitioners and their clients are accessed from the entrance hall. This emphasises the Courts Service commitment to the dignity and privacy of those who attend at court. Secure, independent access is provided from the rear for prisoners, whilst the judge’s chambers, is also independently accessed.

Environment and Energy
All spaces in the complex are day-lit, with the use of diverse techniques to introduce natural lighting. Ceiling heights are generous, increasing daylight penetration throughout. Wall and ceilings are further used to reflect light within the building.

The artificial lighting is photo-controlled, responding to internal lighting levels by automatically dimming. It is also activated by occupant movement which further increases energy efficiency.

The building is constructed using a concrete by-product of the steel industry, reducing the carbon footprint of the project. High levels of external insulation combined with a strategic use of glass reduce heat loss and maximise passive solar gains. Use of indigenous materials including local stone reduced the energy used in the transportation of materials.

A biomass wood-pellet boiler is supplemented by solar panels for heat and hot water requirements. An array of photovoltaic panels, laid out on south-facing roofs, provide electricity for use in the building, with the excess being sold back to the national grid.

It is estimated there will be a 45% reduction in carbon emissions achieved through these measures.

Universal access
The new buildings in Kilmallock are the main point of contact between the community and public service providers in the district. As such, they cater for people of diverse needs and abilities. The principle of ‘Access for All’ is fundamental to the service provision of the Courts Service. In this regard the Service is very pleased that Kilmallock courthouse is already acknowledged as a great public building.

Access here is achieved through the strategy of placing all accommodation at ground level thus minimising and, where possible, eliminating all changes in level throughout the project. This has been matched with an uncluttered and well planned public space, layout and furnishing.