Context 140 - July 2015

14 C O N T E X T 1 4 0 : J U LY 2 0 1 5 Ireland Environment Agency and the council’s own resources, conservation work began in 2009 over two phases. Phase 1 involved the restoration of the exterior stonework, roof and stained glass windows. Phase 2 comprised the restoration and reordering of the interior of the building. H and J Martin worked as main contrac- tor on both phases, supported by a significant number of specialist subcontractors and crafts people. The restoration of the external fabric was complex and meticulous work, using specialist crafts and modern technologies to carve and conserve areas of stonework that had deteriorated, and to restore the unique stained glass. This phase unexpectedly uncovered the original time capsule laid with the foundation stone in 1887, providing the council with the opportunity to bury a new time capsule for future generations.The contents of the original time capsule are on display within the Guildhall. The internal work involved excavations at basement level, liaising closely with archaeologists, to create new storage and support areas, and to form pits for new lifts facilitating disabled access to all levels. At ground-floor level the spaces have been opened up and remodelled to create a new mayor’s parlour adjacent to a new terrace and café, both taking advantage of the views towards the Harbour Square and the River Foyle. An exhibition space telling the story of the Plantation and a tourist information point have been created at ground-floor level. The whole building has become accessible for all the people of the city and for visitors from beyond. The council chamber has returned to its original location at first-floor level overlooking the river, and the magnificent ceiling, which had been hidden away for many years, has been reinstated and enhanced with specialist gilding. In the main hall the original carved joinery work has been cleaned and restored, and the original chandeliers have been refurbished in London. New specialist stage lighting ensures that the room is flexible for all events, and the gilding and decoration of the organ pipes provides a dramatic backdrop to the main stage. Throughout the building every area has been restored and upgraded to provide contemporary facilities within a historic setting, both for the public and the staff who work there, and to ensure this Guildhall remains a truly significant building for the city and the new Derry City and Strabane District Council. Bronagh Lynch is a director with Consarc Design Group.The company thanks its client group in Derry City Council for their dedicated input into the project. The new council chamber (Photo: Signals Photography) The organ dominating one end of the main hall (Photo: H and J Martin)

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