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dlrLexicon, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, Ireland

Louise Cotter, Carr Cotter Naessens Architects

The Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Central Library and Cultural Centre was commissioned following a two-stage international competition held in 2007. The brief for the project required the design to be innovative and an iconic landmark, yet be sympathetic to its context, which is in an Architectural Conservation Area. 

The form of the building relates to the context of the park and the street; the building form is kept low by using most of the length of available site and responds in character, form and scale to the different aspects of the site. The building facades to park and sea have a grand scale, with the aim of achieving a civic presence with little detail to detract from the form. There are long panoramic windows to the lending library and reading room with views out to the park and transparency from outside. The tall windows to the sea focus the views out to Howth Head and the horizon. 


The building is a landmark structure, a public institution with a required minimum design life of 60 years for components and 100 years for the building structure and envelope. This monumental designation has informed design choices. High quality materials, finishes and furniture are required that will wear and weather well with minimal maintenance. 

The building is mainly clad in granite. The large window assemblies and entrance portal are clad in patinated brass (CuZn40). The combination of granite and bronze is a traditional one in Dublin, and reserved for civic and financial institutions. This materials palette is re-used in this project in a contemporary interpretation. 

All of the bespoke glazing screens are framed externally in extruded patinated brass sections. The long window to the reading room demonstrates an intricate cross section; the high level glass louvres are recessed above the brass roof of the extended bay window, which is integrated with a timber lined reading desk inside.

The entrance portal is clad in brass plates supported on stainless steel frame in a rainscreen assembly. The sliding brass doors are a proprietary system from Secco who also provided the sliding brass doors to the café and automated entrance door to the library foyer. 

The tall sea window is over 13 metres tall and the very large double glazed units are glazed in to structural glazed curtain walling sections, supported by stainless steel angles with suspended stainless steel rods hung from the head of the opening. The sea window in the childrens’ library is framed in patinated brass sections, the entire assembly extends upwards and is capped with a patinated brass lid to form a balustrade to the viewing balcony above addressed by a 13 metre high window.

The external handrails are patinated bronze, CuSn8 and all external signage is patinated brass with polished raised letters.



Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council
Completion date: 
Dun Laoghaire


Type of building: 
Copper used: 


Name, office: 
Carr Cotter Naessens Architects

Copper contractors

Gunn Lennon Fabrications and OMC for external handrails



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