Ballyloughran Youth Centre

2008, Dublin, Ireland

Ballyloughran Leisure Centre was a popular rural amenity offering outdoor and indoor facilities for recreational and educational activities. The centre was established by Sr Joan Bowles of Limerick Youth Services, as a safe haven for disadvantaged families and retreats. The centre was also used by school tours, study groups and conferences until its closure in October 2009.

The present building complex is arranged around two sides of the car parking area. The original house dates from the late nineteenth century and has been greatly modified and extended with a series of two and one storey additions that obscure the original form of the house. The accommodation provided did not meet the needs of the users in terms of accessibility, fire safety or energy efficiency.

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Following masterplan studies undertaken it was established that it was more economical to provide new hostel facilities in a purpose designed building, which is organised as a series of “houses” each with their own sunny courtyard and connected by a spine of communal rooms including kitchenettes and stores. There is a communal dining room with terrace overlooking the playing field. There is a clear landscape strategy: cars are kept to the rear of the residential pavilions which have a direct relationship to the natural landscape.
The expression of the building is generated by the functional requirements of the scheme, which is broken down into self-contained units. The architectural expression is low key and necessarily spartan; it echoes the typical farmstead settlement, but is articulated in a contemporary manner As with good agricultural buildings it relies on function and use as the main generators of form and expression.. This is reinforced by the choice of materials, which include light coloured render on the walls and metal roofs. Windows are aluminium externally and have simple opening arrangements. We have avoided the use of superfluous additions, such as dormer windows, stone cladding etc.