VISUAL & the George Bernard Shaw Theatre by Terry Pawson Architects

London firm Terry Pawson Architects have completed a new gallery and theatre in Carlow, Ireland, which opened on Saturday.

The building, called VISUAL & the George Bernard Shaw Theatre, features a façade made of large panels of opaque glass on a concrete plinth.

The interior has a large gallery at its centre with smaller gallery spaces and a theatre arranged around it.

The architects won the contract in 2004 after entering an open competition organised by the Royal Institute of Architects Ireland.

See our previous story about houses designed by Terry Pawson Architects.

Photos are by Helene Binet.

Here's some text from Terry Pawson Architects:


VISUAL & the George Bernard Shaw Theatre, Carlow, Ireland

Terry Pawson Architects’ VISUAL & the George Bernard Shaw Theatre provides Ireland with a significant new arts space to showcase contemporary visual arts and theatre of national and international importance.

Unique to Ireland, the new building features an expansive gallery space with a ceiling height of 12m to accommodate large-scale sculpture and installation, the scale of which has not been easily accommodated in Ireland to date. Terry Pawson Architects won an open Royal Institute of Architects Ireland (RIAI) architectural competition for the contemporary arts centre in 2004.

The 3,726 sqm 3-storey building occupies a much larger footprint than the original competition proposal, a strategy which was made possible by the council’s approval to remove a neighbouring ruined stone wall. The larger site affords sufficient space for the two characters of the centre – the gallery and theatre - to be expressed and unified within one coherent form.

The building presents itself as an assembly of different sized volumes clad in opaque glass raised on a concrete plinth, with the largest gallery at its centre and smaller galleries and theatre spiralling around it. The muteness of the opaque glass harmonises with the neutral grey of the town’s local limestone. The glass provides a blank canvas to absorb natural light in the day and project more dynamic low-level lighting at night. During the day natural light filters into the main galleries creating a calm introspective environment conducive to the production and appreciation of visual art. At night the façade is illuminated, projecting a more exuberant glowing presence for the theatre and performance space.

Project Facts & Credits:

Location: St Patrick's College, Old Dublin Road, Carlow

Gross External area: 4,679 sqm

Gross floor area: 3,726 sqm

Project value: €18 million

Construction value: €12.7 million

Architect: Terry Pawson Architects

Commissioning Client: Carlow County Council

Project Funding: Carlow County Council, Department of Arts Sport & Tourism

Structural Engineer: Arup, Dublin

Services Engineer: Arup, Dublin

Theatre Consultant: Theatre Project Consultants, London

Acoustician: Acoustic Dimensions, Coventry

Gallery Consultant: Bruce McAllister, Bembridge

Contractor: BAM (formerly Rohcon), Kill