CONNEMARA WEST FURNITURE COLLEGE

Adaptive Reuse of Historic Buildings & Sites

Southgate Associates specialise in delivering cutting-edge conservation and design solutions for the ‘adaptive reuse’ of historic buildings and heritage landscapes for new sustainable purposes. Our built heritage represents our inheritance from the past, but to maintain that memory on the landscape, old buildings must be given new, sustainable uses.

Southgate Associates specialise in providing this service to clients, in helping clients to find new uses for old buildings, and subsequently in assisting them through the various stages of actualising that vision, including design, planning and project management of the construction phase of work, including both conservation works and new build extensions and additions.

Sometimes the memory on the landscape can be negative and traumatic, and an adaptive reuse of a building can achieve the result of leaving an important part of our history intact, while simultaneously defusing the intensity of its negative associations.

A very good example of such transformative possibilities is a project in which Southgate Associates collaborated with O’ Donnell + Tuomey Architects at Letterfrack Industrial School in Connemara.

The new addition to the reformatory school building is a Furniture College, a constituent part of Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, which is the National Centre of Excellence for Furniture Design and Wood Technology.

Southgate Associates provided the structural engineering design for the new building, designed by O’ Donnell + Tuomey. It also provided the conservation and engineering advice for the heritage building which is home to Connemara West, a community owned and managed rural development company, which works to improve life for local people and includes facilities such as a creche, community radio, office services etc (see www.connemarawest.ie for more details on this community initiative).

The Connemara West project won numerous awards, including the RIAI Award (2001), the RIBA Award (2001) and the AAI Downes Medal (Premier Award) (2002). It was exhibited in Ireland’s Pavillion at the Venice Biennale in 2005.