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Mon September 27 2021

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Giant’s Causeway inspires winning design for Dublin campus

8 Aug 18 The geology of Giant’s Causeway has inspired the winning entry in an international design competition for the development of University College Dublin’s campus.

The design was inspired by Giant's Causeway
The design was inspired by Giant's Causeway

The Future Campus competition has been won by Steven Holl Architects (SHA), which is based in New York and Beijing. Holl’s studio was supported by Dublin-based Kavanagh Tuite Architects, US analysts Brightspot Strategy, structural engineers Arup, landscape architects and urban designers HarrisonStevens and climate engineers Transsolar.

Members of the international jury said that they were hugely impressed by SHA’s design proposal for a Centre for Creative Design and entrance precinct for a circa 24ha area of the overall campus.

Holl’s strategy focuses on creating an “exhilarating” Centre for Creative Design as a gateway presence, which cues to seven new quadrangles of open green space, designed to enhance the campus’ historic features and woodlands.

A new pedestrian spine, parallel to the campus’ original spine, creates an H-plan organisation, lined with weather canopies that double as solar connectors, forming the infrastructure of an energy network. Cafés and social spaces are located along paths for informal gathering; landscape spaces are animated by water-retention ponds, rain- and wind-protected seating areas and preserved specimen trees.

The Centre, set by a plaza and a reflecting pool, displays prismatic forms inspired by the geology of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Giant’s Causeway. Natural light is captured by two vertical structures angled at 23 degrees, mirroring the earth’s tilt. The auditorium echoes the shape of UCD’s iconic dodecahedral 1972 water tower; the Centre’s towers respond to the water tower’s pentagonal pillar.

The Centre is intended to encourage creative collaboration and interaction with a ‘circuit of social connection’ that allows students, faculty and visitors to peer into maker and classroom spaces through glass walls but also respects creativity by providing spaces for concentration and silence.

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Professor Andrew Deeks, president of University College Dublin and competition jury chair, said: “Holl’s vision is intriguing and striking – combining an iconic design for the Centre for Creative Design with a masterplan distinguished by a few considered, highly intelligent moves that open up the centre of the campus and use creative landscaping to intensify its natural beauty.

“The Centre for Creative Design promises to be an exhilarating presence, announcing UCD from afar, creating a new Dublin landmark, and giving visitors, students and faculty a definite sense of arrival.

“We are fortunate to have an expansive campus which brims with potential. We searched globally for the best talent and were rewarded. Now we can create the world-class environment UCD deserves.”

The jury praised all the finalists for their hard work and commitment and awarded a special commendation to the team led by John Ronan Architects for “a masterplan of great clarity that was beautifully thought through and a Centre for Creative Design that had gravitas and a gentle, rational strength”.

The four other finalists comprised, Diller Scofidio + Renfro (US), O’Donnell + Tuomey (Ireland), Studio Libeskind (US) and UNStudio (Netherlands). The original shortlist was expanded from the expected five to six in recognition of the outstanding response from the international design community.

The first stage of the competition attracted expressions of interest from 98 teams in 28 countries.

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