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Irish Linen Centre

Public Space

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Europa Nostra Citation:

“For the skilful integration of high quality contemporary architecture into the historic centre of Lisburn, where it provides an excellent museum displaying the history of Ireland’s most important traditional industry”


The Irish Linen Centre is an addition to an existing building – the historic market house, largely of the 18th century but remodelled in the 19th – which had been adapted as the Lisburn Museum in the early 1980s. It sits as a free–standing building in the centre of the Market Square within the Conservation Area. 

As the first phase of the project, Hall Black Douglas were appointed to carry out surveys of the external fabric, make recommendations and subsequently carry out a contract to restore the Grade A Listed building – the Assembly Rooms now housing the Lisburn Museum.

The second phase of the project was to demolish the conglomeration of buildings that had been added on to the Assembly Rooms and create a new Interpretive Centre joined onto the Museum. This new three–storey block, comprising an in situ concrete frame, clad in smooth dressed sandstone, with steelwork sections employed at high level, and featuring such Modernist elements as polished metal tubular railings and windows of both plate glass and glass blockwork, was linked to the old two–storey market house by means of a tall glazed atrium. 

The atrium, which forms a common entrance for both the old market house museum and the new interpretive centre, is comprised of full–height planar glazing with heavy glass doors at either end, and contains an internal bridge at first floor level linking the two buildings. The former tower comprising random sandstone with brick infill was exposed in the final design, with remedial brick detailing pointed up in a different fashion to record the intervention visually. Recessed in the base of the exposed stone central tower is the new bow–fronted reception desk of beechwood, baltic green granite, and stainless steel, the point from which a tour of both the museum and the interpretive centre begins. 

The old building was retained almost unchanged, its ground floor containing the local museum, with its first floor – the former Assembly Rooms serving as a lecture room and space for temporary exhibitions. In the new building, the main interpretive display for the linen industry occupies the first floor, accessed by both a staircase of steel and polished wood from the ground floor, and the overhead bridge from the old building, while the basement contains stores and workshop facilities and an audio–visual display. The second floor is occupied by offices and archives. 

  • Client

    Lisburn City Council

  • Category

    Public Space