Thapar University Student Accommodation

The Thapar University project in the Indian Punjab completes the campus grid with two ‘bookends’, the student residences and a Learning Podium with library, lecture theatres and a computer centre, two hubs linked by shaded pergola walkways. The main student residences are made up of seven towers; like chessmen, the towers establish a series of geometric relationships with one another in a walled garden, with a web of floating walkways above. They provide an innovative new model of high-density student living with bedrooms and social spaces - a mini-city - in an environmentally controlled environment, with extensive shading, water and green space.

Phase 1 of the student residences has now been completed and the buildings are fully occupied; four large L-shaped towers contain bedrooms for 1200 students around an ascending network of interlocking double-height common rooms; each tower is clothed in a red jaali screen surface - the other three blocks are due to be completed in 2019; a separate white block of student housing stands adjacent to it. Thapar University represents Irish architects working in the wider world; the unique design has been achieved through profound collaboration with the University, with our partners DPA Architects in Delhi and in the context of the great tradition of contemporary architecture in India such as the work of 2018 Pritsker winner Balkrishna Doshi; an Irish ability to listen, to become involved, is a part of this process. India is experiencing a massive expansion in its infrastructure - not least in education - and our practice is honoured to be participating in this development. Everything in India is made through a process of discussion and agreement, finding sustainable ways to build, to live and to make architecture in a very particular climate and culture.


Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council - Civic Offices

County Hall in Dún Laoghaire is a mixture of contemporary and existing architecture - three new wings with the fourth formed by the original Victorian building folded around a covered courtyard space - the central concourse - which provides public access to the various offices of the Council on the ground floor - treated like shopfronts around a public square - and, via staircases and lifts, the upper level as well. The court at its heart is a public room - the concourse - which soars a story higher than the surrounding circulation. It has its own windows and special quality of light. It has sliding doors that can be open to the main space or closed off for special events. The concourse was the heart of the project. It represented the people at the centre of the County Hall. It provided an unexpected cultural public space. When the doors are open, people wander freely across the concourse, their view framed by the surrounding elevations; when the doors are closed, there is an altered spatial sense to the big timber box at the heart of the building. The glazing at the upper level of the concourse gives lateral views down and through the space and across to the other offices on the perimeter; these change from day to evening and night.

Dún Laoghaire Rathdown were the first local authority in the Dublin area to hold a major architectural competition for a new County Hall in the 1990’s. This went through a two stage process in the RIAI, with the winning scheme completed by McCullough Mulvin with RKD Architects in 1996. The present scheme, with the concourse at its heart, is an expression of the democratic intentions of the Council (the people at the centre of civic life), a significant work integrating new and old architecture, and an important late 20th century urban public place in the wider city.

Temple Bar Gallery and Studios

Temple Bar Gallery and Studios, an organisation of artists, was originally housed in a disused factory, which extended from Temple Bar onto the Liffey quays. The project explored the relationship between art and architecture - and the appropriate representation of the power of art through architecture. The scheme is cut through with colour and abstract planar composition. The roof studios are a planimetric composition related to the synthetic cubism of Juan Gris. The existing factory building was retained without its top floor and an extension constructed on an adjacent corner site, taking the gallery to twice its previous size and completing the square footprint of the building. Thirty artists' studios in a range of sizes were reorganised with offices, showers and a kitchen added for occupants. Rooftop studios sit as a separate metal-clad element on the square rendered base - a metal 'town' above the city configured to provide external balconies. Internally, the rectangular atrium has a large oval void in each floor slab for lifting art to upper studios. 

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Temple Bar Music Centre

The Music Centre, on the Curved Street was a significant part of the overall Temple Bar Framework Plan - linking Temple Bar Square to Meeting House Square.It contains an auditorium, music rehearsal rooms, music information facilities and teaching areas for Dublin's rock music industry. The curved form derived from a desire to avoid demolitions - the route a careful line using derelict space to best advantage. The site is essentially urban and boundaries were given elements; one side curved, the rest an irregular edge dictated by existing buildings. The geometry of the plan reflects the juxtaposition of the necessary angles and the inclusion of the two older warehouses on Temple Lane. Exploration of the re-use of backlands between narrow urban blocks was a strong generator of the form; the idea of providing raised external galleries at first floor running between existing buildings.

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McCullough Mulvin Exhibition, Sao Bento Metro Station, Porto, Portugal


ABOUT MCCULLOUGH MULVIN Based in Dublin, McCullough Mulvin Architects does not produce trophy architecture for 21st century consumption; the practice is concerned with time, place and nature - which guide where to build, and not to build, how to make something right in a particular place. There are questions on how to make ordinary things in an age of extremes and superlatives, how to make appropriate 21st century public space places for people to meet. Buildings are different because ideas, places and functions differ; materials are used as long as they are interesting; there is no house style. There are ways of doing things - approaches to material and fabric - which are creative tensions in practice - making things which are static, extracted, carved out - and others concerned with line, tension and geometry. All practice is about exploration and some experiment - working over and back on ideas that endure and get combined, moving around things in parallel rather than directly forward, which, by degrees starts a stuttering language.

The work is mainly public and university buildings in Ireland - museums, libraries, fire stations, research buildings- projects in the cities and towns - especially Dublin- and in the countryside, now also in India, where the practice has designed Thapar University in the Punjab. They are new things- but of a place, or new additions to older buildings, a knot of rooms and materials growing up and around old roots. Architecture occurs at the junctions on, in, and around geographies- of the past, of nature, of cities - the project a open question as much as a solution. Living in Ireland sustains an interest in nature, in its phenomenal landscape, its weather and light - in how to build on it, in it, how to frame it - making fissures that become ways of admitting light, making buildings that become geography - working on the tight line that divides nature and artifice - extending to archaeology- the nature of incision, revelation and layering. This brings engagement with the nature of construction and destruction; everything is being made or falling away; work on existing buildings is just another layer- a view on the frailty of material things and a commentary on the passage of time. In the same way, old things provide a formal and typological source, modern architecture but also that of the ancient world with its abstraction and unavailability of intent. While built projects are critical, the practice also makes explorations through writing, making books, etching, films- the basis of the Porto exhibition.

ABOUT THE EXHIBITION The project is about McCullough Mulvin, about Ireland and India, about projects that the practice is currently engaged in - completed, in design evolution, one under construction.  Two are of urban scale - Thapar University in the Indian Punjab and Trinity College in Dublin, where the practice has built three major projects in an historic university. Two projects are palimpsests, partly new and partly old - St Mary’s Museum in Kilkenny and the Military Archives and library project in Dublin - where new elements are like accretions on older ones; three relate specifically to ideas of ‘constructed’ geographies - Kishogue School in West Dublin, the Beaufort Laboratory in Cork - which studies wave energy - and Waterford Fire Station in Waterford City.

Kishogue School, the Fire Station and the Beaufort are set in specific geographies and work with different kinds of geometry to create architecture. Kishogue conjoins three regular abstract forms- shapes relating to the art of the Irish artist William Scott; internal and external spaces are woven between them as a second language. The other two are buildings to do with process - moving fire engines, measuring water - but they are quite different because of function and location - one makes an abstract world in a neutral landscape to house a particular kind of life, the other reflects a very specific geography - an opposition of tense and relaxed geometries....


Mullingar - Decentralised Offices

This building forms part of the Decentralised programme for Government departments and is designed for the Department of Education and Science using a prominent site just outside Mullingar on the Tullamore road. The four storey prismatic form sits at the southern end of this green field site. A dominating presence from the main road, the project creates its own surroundings and extends the landscape setting of the project to make an environmental haven at the edge of Mullingar. The parkland and river are incorporated into the project and a seamless continuum established between them.

The core concept of the building lies in the provision of a new standard of flexible office and ancillary accommodation for the Minister and staff of the Department of Education and Science offering a wide and constantly changing variety of views and vistas across and between elements in well tempered and lit working environments; a variety of different working spaces in the building allow each section a clear and identifiable working environment and identity. Cross views through a series of dramatic and inter-related glazed courtyards and lightwells allow for a richspatial experience in three dimensions and visual linkage between these sections in a suitable and appropriate way. This provides an exciting and flexible environment for those working in the building - who have direct views to landscape or green courts.

The building form is broken open at ground floor level allowing access and air into courtyards and through routes – a generous bridge across the River Brosna signals the entrance from the road - nature literally extends from the site into the building form - building and site form a single entity.

The building is clad in a taut flush skin of glass, aluminium & stone panels.

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Shanid Road

This house is in Harolds Cross, on a wedge shaped corner site with a large garden on Shanid Road. The geometry of the site inspired a response which involved wrapping the existing house in a carapace that had to yield a master bedroom and a generous space for cooking, eating and entertaining. The brief had two components: an enormous bed, and for the preparation and sharing of food to be central to the home.

The carapace has a taut exterior and a flayed interior, like the concept of the Aran currach. Built economically in simple materials, the interior of the space reveals the steel structure and the timbers that span between them have been left exposed, as if the ceiling had been peeled off. This has all been painted white, and acts as a counterpoint to the simple surfaces at the lower levels, where oak and sharp blue tiles give a weight to the work areas.

A series of triangular roof lights take this geometry and shine light on the cranked double-height kitchen as well as the master bedroom on the first floor. The exposed roof structure is up-lit in the bedroom to give a sense of warmth and interest; a bath sits at one end with the enormous bed on a platform beyond and a dressing area in between. A tiny window in the bedroom wall looks through the new roof across the double height space and to trees beyond.

The kitchen is located in the larger volume, simple units sit orthogonally with the space sculpted around them. A square picture window addresses the terrace directly which when complete will become another place to eat. A long solid oak table slides in to a dining area in the crook of the plan, with a lower ceiling where candlelit dinners have real intimacy.

The garden is envisaged as a riot of vigorous planting – the next phase.

Palmerstown Road

This is a house for a growing family, a project that is a cumulation of thoughts about materiality that has evolved over a number of years in a true collaboration with the owners who’s 3 storey Victorian house was a blank canvas – the partnership involved the two owners – one the builder and the other the client – and a series of robust debates with their architect.

The idea relates to two volumes that sit back to back. They touch at their intersection but don’t engage directly. The concrete volume draws in the sky, the timber volume cuts in to the ground. The concrete has the imprint of the timber, like a memory of an earlier version of the design – appropriate for a scheme that developed as a concept over ten years.

The interests were in board-marked concrete and the experimentation of relief, surface and lining, and in timber for both the concrete formwork and the kitchen lining. The garden room is a board-marked concrete cube with a double-height funnel bringing in the light. The ply-lined kitchen is made as a three dimensional lattice work with ceiling fins that thread the space together and full height doors; the warm light held in the carapace and reflecting from the sheen of the plywood. The spaces are linked with a concrete floor, and other smaller interventions thread the ideas through the house as a whole. The project continues in the garden as the family learn how each space works best for work, play, entertainment and entertaining depending on the time of year and the way the light falls.

Baggot Lane - Mews Housing

A development of three mews houses on a dense mews lane site in Dublin 4. The houses were designed to include parking within the footprint and generous units of approx. 120sqm each over three floors were achieved, with living on first and second floors enjoying views and air. The development was compact and economic to construct, and maximised the units with well designed, uncluttered spaces for sustainable urban living.

The project was taken to planning stage and the developer executed the construction stage independently.