President Michael D. Higgins officially opened the new Military Archives, Cathal Brugha Barracks on 26 April, which is a flagship project for the 1916 Rising Commemorations programme.
The Military Archive facility allows for the consolidation of all military archives material that is currently stored at a number of locations around the country into one new national facility. It provides secure storage of archive material for circa 70,000 archive boxes, plus providing for the storage of ‘special media’ material, such as videos, film reels, photographs and microfilm, which require specific storage conditions.
Atkins provided the civil and structural engineering for the Department of Defence along with the design team comprising McCullough Mulvin Architects, Rogerson Reddan & Associates Quantity Surveyors and Homan O’Brien M&E Engineers with the main contractor, Gem Construction Ltd.
Martina Finn, technical director with Atkins, said, ”Atkins is delighted to be involved with delivering this successful project for the Department of Defence. From the project outset and at all design stages, the design team and Department of Defence team worked closely together to achieve the client’s brief, including storage requirements, whilst also working within a set budget and to a restricted programme to enable the project to be ready for the 2016 Commemorations.”
The storage is provided in a new archive block over two storeys, with links at two levels to an existing two-storey building of heritage value, originally designed as a barracks hospital and constructed circa 1903. This building has been sensitively refurbished to provide a library with reading rooms, administration areas, new feature entrance and ancillary facilities for public access to the facility.
Due to height constraints on the site, the new Archives Block is sunk by a half-storey into the ground, creating a half-basement for the lower storage level. Also due to the tight programme to enable the project to be ready for the 2016 commemorations, the main structure consists of a precast concrete frame that has four hours of fire resistance to meet archive facility requirements. The archive storage is an automated mobile cabinet system, which is designed to the best international standards and provides an excellent storage environment.
This new facility has changed a part derelict site and existing unused barracks hospital building to an inviting and user-friendly building, both for its staff and the visiting public, whilst also enhancing the surrounding community. It is sympathetic to the existing buildings, which are of heritage vale. Culturally, as one of the flagship projects for the centenary of the 1916 Rising Commemorations, it provides a high-class National Military Archive facility for both Department of Defence and Defence Forces’ material.
The staff who will occupy this building have been highly complementary of the new facilities and of the benefits that it will bring them in their day-to-day work. Its reading rooms/library provide a welcoming and excellent environment for the visiting public whilst also providing a valuable resource to those researching the history of the State or family members.
Click here for more information on the Military Archives.