Architecture – Dublin-based studio McCullough Mulvin Architects has converted the St. Mary’s Church in Kilkenny, Ireland, into the Medieval Mile Museum. The building’s lost aisle and chancel have bben reconstructed and cladded in lead.
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“The medieval church, originally constructed in the 13th Century, required some extension for the display of artefacts in a controlled environment.” Explain at McCullough Mulvin architects. “The project became an experiment in the use of archaeology to help define an architectural solution.”
Rather than restore with matching stone, McCullough Mulvin Architects introduced a new materiality with timber and lead, a soft and malleable material recalling Irish grey stone and sky. The project worked with the nature of the building, providing also a new stone floor and repairing materials.
At the centre of the plan, a break in the new ceiling reveals part of the original medieval roof structure behind, and similarly the clean white wall finishes occasionally give way to areas of original stonework.
The chancel had historically been reduced in size and the nave originally had aisles. Archaeological excavations revealed the presence of extant foundations under the earth. New structures were placed on these, amplifying the spatial complexity of the building and developing a sequence of internal spaces.
Founded in the thirteenth century, St. Mary’s Parish Church was used as a parish and masonic hall since the mid-20th century and it was purchased by Kilkenny borough council in 2010 with assistance from Kilkenny county council and the department of environment, heritage and local government.
The building is the starting point of the ‘Medieval Mile’ trail and houses the city’s Civic Treasures and displays many important carved limestone tombs and funerary monuments from the Middle Ages to the 20th century.
All photos by McCullough Mulvin Architects.
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