Cloughjordan Children’s Centre

Cloughjordan is a small market town in Eire, approximately 80 miles South of Dublin. The project for a new children’s centre hinged on the retention and refurbishment of an existing house on the site. In order to provide a 100 place nursery with adult training and a café, the ‘extension’ at the rear almost doubled the size of the existing house. It is in effect a series of extensions which grow out of the need for a large open plan nursery space which, for logistical reasons, had to be at first floor level.

In design terms the need for discretion was paramount. Consideration for its effect on the quiet nineteenth century repose of the existing street scene meant that the extension needed to be mostly hidden from the street. The end result is almost totally functional presenting the new as a deliberately contrasting architectural statement, expressed in the form of a big red toy box. There is little sense of its presence behind the existing façade. However a little like the Tardis in Dr Who, what was once a small domestic cottage, on entering it now transforms into a huge new interior full of bustling play spaces and quiet contemplative corners for children to enjoy.

Brendan Shepherd