O'Donnell + Tuomey Architects have been selected as the designers for a new regional museum (with/without library) in Coleraine town centre, Northern Ireland.
The first phase of the competition attracted fifty-four Expressions of Interest from architectural practices across the UK, Ireland, Europe, Australia and the United States. Coleraine Borough Council was delighted by the number, calibre and diversity of practices who initially responded. O'Donnell + Tuomey were selected from an exceptionally strong short-list that also included:
Consarc Design Group
Heneghan Peng Architects
Niall McLaughlin Architects
Panter Hudspith Architects
The short-listed teams were asked to outline their approach and initial design ideas at competitive interview. The jury panel consisted of officers and elected members from Coleraine Borough Council, the North-Eastern Education & Library Board, with Clare Wright (Wright and Wright Architects) acting as the RIBA Adviser to the competition. The panel felt that O'Donnell + Tuomey's pragmatic approach, design flair and relevant experience made them the right team to take the project forward. They were impressed by the team's sketch ideas which showed how the buildings would address the Causeway Museum Service's desire to remain a 'museum without walls' (providing museum services out with communities), whilst providing an architectural identity within the confines of the walled Market Yard site and successfully bridge the transition to the town centre.
Members of the jury panel commented thus:
'The jury panel was impressed by all five short-listed teams and appreciated the considerable efforts they had made for their interview. It was by no means an easy decision. However, the panel was convinced by O'Donnell + Tuomey's ability to demonstrate their considerable experience of successful cultural projects and their understanding of all our selection criteria and the issues raised.'
Cllr A. McQuillan (Chair of Coleraine Regional Museum Working Group)
'It was a pleasure to be involved in selecting a team from such a high calibre field. O'Donnell + Tuomey's outstanding talent and sensitivity were once again evident in their ideas for this project. I look forward to visiting a wonderful new museum in Coleraine in the not too distant future.'
Clare Wright (RIBA Adviser)
'We are delighted to be working with O'Donnell + Tuomey. Their initial response to the site has presented us with very exciting possibilities for the ways that we can engage visitors with our collection, whilst ensuring best practice in museum standards. It was clear during the interview that there were going to be some fantastic opportunities to engage local people and others with the rich heritage here, not only in the end result - the long awaited regional museum for Coleraine - but importantly, in the process of developing the project.'
Helen Perry (Causeway Museum Service Officer)