The sleepy Irish town begins its architectural legacy
More renowned for its cathedral, markets and manor houses, the Irish town Carlow has entered a new cultural era with the completion of VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art & the George Bernard Shaw Theatre this week.
The unique building, designed by London-based Terry Pawson Architects, acts as an extravagant addition to Carlow College grounds adding four galleries and a theatre to service Carlow residents and visitors alike. The design is unlike anything seen not just in Carlow but in the rest of Ireland providing one of the only galleries capable of displaying large scale sculptures. The Main Gallery measuring 28m x 16m x
12 m high asserts itself externally as the tallest form in the building’s composition.
Three further gallery spaces are created as separate blocks within the building's form. The Link Gallery features a fully glazed wall offering views across a reeded pond and its polished concrete floor, cast concrete walls and louvered concrete ceiling contrast dramatically with the luminescent white box interior
of the Main Gallery. The Studio Gallery offers the flexibility of function as either a flow-over for larger exhibitions or a studio space for the artist in residence. The Digital Gallery is a black box gallery designed to accommodate video art and installation.
Dramatic arts are showcased in the George Bernard Shaw Theatre, located in the South West corner of the building. Seating 343 people the theatre contrasts with the icy serenity of the gallery building with a deep red feature wall in the foyer bar and red seating in the auditorium.
Additional facilities in the 4,679 sq m building include a cafe, bookstore, dressing rooms and rehearsal space.
Carissa Farrell, Director of VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art & the George Bernard Shaw Theatre said: “VISUAL represents one of the most courageous and ambitious arts
infrastructural projects carried out by a Local Authority in Ireland to date, creating an architectural legacy
to mark Carlow firmly on the cultural map of Ireland and Europe”.