Straddling a narrow slice of bog land between two roads, with views across bare landscape to Mount Errigal, this civic office project was initiated as one of a network of decentralized offices to serve the dispersed population of Co. Donegal, one of the most isolated areas of Ireland. The project sits lightly on the bog, rooted in its location and its habitat, yet floating over it, approached from either side on a raised causeway built in a manner reminiscent of the archaic timber trackways which are discovered from time to time in Irish wetlands.
The building is composed of two boxes of similar proportions, one standing, one lying on its side; they are slightly splayed to each other (flotsam floating on the soft ground) with the taller, plastered block extending a shelf-like roof to shelter the lower, timber one; the taller also contains a secondary double height space. A rooflit atrium between the blocks encloses the causeway as it passes through. The external finishes are carried into the building, making a focused tapering space with two quite different elevations. This is an important community social space with a café and exhibition room offering access to local authority and government services in surrounding offices which are naturally lit and ventilated from two or three sides.
The form uses wood as an external finish on the South block: timber has a potent memory in Ireland where almost every building was once made with it though none survive except as archaeology. The project offered an opportunity to explore the sensual nature of water, wind and wood. In Donegal weather conditions, the cedar cladding has turned silver-grey almost immediately. The glazing of this block is protected from solar gain with timber rainscreen baffles formed by omitting sections of the external cladding.
If elevations reveal McCullough Mulvin’s tendency towards cubistic collage, a tendency allowing even cills and mullions be incorporated compositionally (de Stijl, after all, had roots in very simple matters of joinery), the parallelism of the plan identifies Dungloe as a model of striation planning.