Rising from a lush green hill in South East Ireland, the Wexford County Council Headquarters glows in a double skin of glass. Designed by Robin Lee Architecture, the complex was the winner of an international competition. It unifies the service departments of Wexford County into six sustainable buildings that overlook the River Slaney Estuary and the Blackstairs Mountains.
Each department is housed in one of six blocks, separated by courtyards, and centered around a central forum accessible from each arm. The forum is setup like a comfortable and informal lobby, with sitting areas and public counters. It can also be used for ceremonies or presentations by any of the departments. The striking walls and floors are locally sourced Irish Blue Limestone, a material used in tradition for Irish Civic Buildings.
The façade of the buildings is a double-skin of low iron glass on anondized aluminum mullions. The skin naturally helps control temperature control, minimizing solar gain in the summers, and insulating in the winters, cutting down on energy costs. Landscaped terraces and gardens also help cool the adjacent interiors throughout the hotter months. Courtyards provide cross ventilation and natural lighting.
The café on the second floor opens up to a lush green terrace, which doubles as the first floor roof. The green roof is planed with flowers and foliage, and reduces solar gain to the floor below, as well as creates a serene place for employees to eat their lunch. The third floor is home to the Council Chamber, with a great circular oak table, to encourage democracy in meetings and debates.
The building also features in-house grey water recycling, evacuated solar tubes to heat water, and a biomass boiler. Overall, it is not only an energy saving design, but also modernizes Ireland’s civic building traditions.