st. patrick's centre, donegal town
- Area: 460sq.m / 5000 sq.ft
The new building is placed at the edge of the church grounds and intentionally acts as the backdrop its environs. A sweeping curved granite wall ties the building into the hillside, complimenting the existing church.
The brief was for a Pastoral Centre situated within the grounds of St. Patrick's Church, Donegal Town.
For years, church educational programmes, counselling and meetings were held in local schools, the parochial house and hotels throughout the parish. St. Patrick's Centre was designed to consolidate these spiritual, educational and counselling activities and to meet the social needs of parishioners coming together for celebration and bereavement.
Elevated above the towns busy Main Street, the tranquil site accommodates St. Patrick's Church, the former curates house, the parochial house and extensive sloping gardens. St. Patrick's Church(1935) known as The Memorial Church of the Four Masters. Built with Barnesmore pink granite and Mountcharles sandstone in a Neo Irish Romanesque style, it is one of the most photographed landmarks in the area. The new building had to be positioned sensitively to sit side by side with the domineering edifice, respecting its elder.
The R.C. Parish Council identified an elevated overgrown garden area to the rear of the former curates house located to the west of St. Patrick's Church as the preferred location on the site with the condition that a physical link be made to the former curates house as it had been recently renovated as office space for Accord, Catholic Marriage Care Services and was providing an income.
The new building is placed at the edge of the site and quite intentionally it acts as the backdrop to the church gardens. The requirement for a large multi-purpose hall posed particular challenges and opportunity in such a sensitive location. The building is tucked into the excavated hill, the hall is a double height space entered from the lower level by a processional route from the church. One can also enter from the upper level where car parking is located and descend into the main space along the new Barnesmore granite wall. Meeting rooms, and kitchen are ancillary and more intimate in scale. The sweeping curved granite wall ties the building into the hillside, varying shapes of windows are used to highlight the movement of light and frame views of the church, again signifying the spiritual nature of the building. The building materials are carefully limited to create a calm spiritual feeling, simple rendered walls act as a backdrop to the main stone walls, a dramatic aluminium over sailing eaves is a metaphorical response to the halo the spiritual building deserves.
A curved stone cross situated in front of the 1970's bungalow structure reduces the impact of the former curates house, and helps increase its scale, in keeping with the new centre. The fundamental meaning of the centre as an inclusive community resource.