Project in Detail
UCD Health Sciences Centre
Murray O'Laoire Architects
Anew McKnight - Murray O'Laoire Architects
HEALTH SCIENCES CENTRE
University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
Site & Context
The Health Sciences Centre in UCD is constructed on a former surface car park adjacent to the Science Faculty building and the Conway Research Institute on the Belfield Campus. The centre brings together the various schools of the historic Faculty of Medicine from remote locations around the city, including Earlsfort Terrace, Mater Misericordiae Hospital, St. Vincent’s Hospital, St. Michael’s Hospital Dun Loughaire and St. John of God’s Hospital Stillorgan.
Concept & Realisation
The brief for the centre was the integration of the four schools of Nursing and Midwifery, Diagnostic Imaging, Physiotherapy, and Medicine in one collegiate setting promoting a fresh learning atmosphere conducive to furthering the development of multi-disciplinary teams necessary in health care today. The brief was later expanded to include the Medical Bureau of Road Safety.
The challenge of the masterplan was to create a distinct identity for each school while providing shared spaces and resources which encourage integration and interaction. This was further complicated by the necessity of a phased construction – the masterplan needed to be able to deliver a complete and working building at each stage of the process while remaining flexible enough in form and layout to allow for the accommodation of additional schools on a phased basis. The finished building was constructed in three overlapping phases and even within each phase there were considerable design developments as funding became available. The design has withstood the challenges and has shown to be adaptable and flexible enough to deal with the evolving changes in academic structures within the University.
Central to the teaching philosophy of the schools is the close interaction between staff and student. The staff offices have been located directly adjacent to and in close proximity to the main teaching and laboratory spaces. The provision of student social spaces at key locations within the building allows for this informal interaction.
The Schools provide all essential and necessary teaching facilities for the training of medical professionals both of a practical and academic nature. Teaching methods vary from traditional classrooms, to open access computer laboratories to group teaching with staff. Of specific note are the specialised teaching rooms where practical simulation of clinical practices is carried out in a full-scale model hospital setting.
The aspiration to minimise mechanical ventilation had to be balanced with achieving a compact and robust building form. This was accomplished by arranging the teaching and staff accommodation in 23m deep blocks around a central cloister which in turn encloses the Health Sciences Library. The library thus becomes the functional and figurative heart of the complex. This arrangement allows for natural ventilation to all sides of the building. The main entrance to the centre is located on the eastern elevation, reflecting the direction that most of the pedestrian traffic approaches the building.
The palette of materials and colours reflects the general ethos and language of contemporary architecture on campus and is in accordance with the University Development Plan guidelines. The perimeter blocks are clad with coloured reconstituted stone cladding panels around the main lecture theatres. The first floor contains spaces of a more open nature and as such is predominantly glazed with a high quality double glazed curtain walling system. The second and third floors are clad in a mixture of white reconstituted stone panels with recessed areas in curtain walling. In addition some areas of coloured glazed brick are used to ground floor elements such as the Faculty Offices and student social spaces. The building has a predominantly flat roof with a bonded membrane on concrete and metal deck roofing. The library emerges as a glass box from the centre of the scheme - a glued laminated portal frame supports double glazed walls and saw tooth roof.
At the outset of the design process, the Client had a stated objective towards responsible environmental development. A thermal model of the project was developed by specialist consultants to assist in evolution of the design and maximise energy efficient features. Different design strategies and material specifications were inputted into the model and the resulting design interventions included the introduction of additional opening windows and air transfer grilles, improved glazing specifications, displacement air supply to the library and the use of a Building Management System (BMS) to monitor varying usage of he building.
Key features include
- Glazed central atria within the perimeter blocks use temperature and pressure imbalances to drive air naturally through the internal spaces while also ensuring that circulation spaces are naturally lit. Fresh air supply is provided through opening windows and doors in the surrounding perimeter rooms.
- Ground floor lecture theatres which rely on mechanical extract and supply air at peak occupancy have been designed to allow for natural supply air to be utilised when occupancy is low. This is drawn in through louvers on the external façade and distributed through low level diffusion grilles in the teaching walls.
- The ground floor cloister is punctuated with light shafts which have the dual purpose of bringing daylight into the library stack area and the cloister while also allowing for natural ventilation of ground floor classrooms and social spaces. A reflecting pool at the cloister perimeter acts as an attenuation pond in case of severe flooding.
- The Library portal frames are made deeper than is required structurally and are placed at close centres to act as a large scale brise soleil.
The resulting design interventions and features had the effect of halving the original projected building energy demand. The total secondary energy performance of 167kWh/m2 per annum compares favourably with the lowest energy buildings on the Belfield Campus.
In a building that is by its nature an intensive user of energy it was important for the design team to consider a holistic approach to providing a sustainable design solution, however always at the forefront of the design philosophy was the creation of a pleasant environment to work and study in.
Murray O'Laoire Architects
Mr Ralph Bingham
Murray O'Laoire Architects