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Design award for children’s centre

Tuamgraney-based children’s centre Brigit’s Hearth has scooped a Clare design and conservation award for best innovation, at a ceremony held in Glór, Ennis, this week.

 Lina Plaez, project manager, Brigits Hearth in Tuamgraney, with Gordon Daly, senior planner at Clare County Council; Tom Coughlan, county manager and Rosita Boland from the Irish Times at Clare County Council’s Design and Conservation Awards at Glór. Photograph by Declan Monaghan

 Lina Plaez, project manager, Brigits Hearth in Tuamgraney, with Gordon Daly, senior planner at Clare County Council; Tom Coughlan, county manager and Rosita Boland from the Irish Times at Clare County Council’s Design and Conservation Awards at Glór. Photograph by Declan MonaghanTuamgraney-based children’s centre Brigit’s Hearth has scooped a Clare design and conservation award for best innovation, at a ceremony held in Glór, Ennis, this week.
The children’s centre was named joint winner of the best innovation award with the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre.
The facility is operated by the Brigit’s Mantel Initiative and provides holistic care to young children at their environmentally friendly centre adjacent to Raheen Hospital in Tuamgraney.
At the ceremony, the judge’s described the building as “a home-from-home for children up to the age of 12” and its architecture as a development that “challenges both the form and function of a traditional crèche space, both by its non-urban location and in its layout, ethos and setting”.
“The fact this project is a joint winner with the flagship Cliffs of Moher centre proves that innovation encompasses far more than scale. In addition, Brigit’s Mantle has the potential to be a model for similar crèches elsewhere in the country,” the judges noted.
The project’s central aim is the importance of healthy building for children and the need to create a space and design a programme that meets the needs of young children.
The development is designed to create a traditional homelike environment but one that is built using modern environmental solutions.
Speaking about the award and the project, Lina Pelaez told   that it was always a dream of hers to provide this type of childcare facility and said the design came from an idea to do something new and different, marrying both the old and the new.
“If you want to make a change in society then I believe you need to start at this age and grow this idea from there by giving an example to the young children. This is the country for miracles and since we started on this project it has been one miracle after the other. We didn’t know for a while whether we were up or down, with the low temperatures last year and the flooding. It was an act of good faith that we are where we are,” she said.
The building itself was co-designed by Brian O’Brien, MRIAI of Solearth Ecologic Architecture and Ms Pelaez, who also project-managed the building works, which were completed last year.
When taking on this project, Lina revealed that her son gave her a book, by author Alain De Botton entitled Architecture of Happiness and Lina drew much of her inspiration from a line in that book.
“We owe it to the fields that our houses will not be the inferiors of the virgin land they have replaced. We owe it to the worms and the trees that the buildings we cover them with will stand as promises of the highest and most intelligent kinds of happiness.”
The building itself has five separate buildings joined together around a central courtyard and no cement was used in its construction.
It was made out of clay and silicone rendering and the paints used are bio paints sourced locally in Tulla. It has a thatched roof and heat and hot water is managed with solar panels and a large back boiler sourced in Germany.

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