E3 Learning Foundry, Trinity College Dublin

The E3 Learning Foundry was an open invitation to Architect Led Design Teams for a new Learning Centre at Trinity College Dublin. McCullough Mulvin's shortlisted submission was a collaboration with Wilson Architects (Boston, USA), Martha Schwartz Partners, Arup Dublin, Transolar and IN2 Engineering.

This submission - for a 6000m2 Engineering Computers and Natural Sciences Learning Centre at the East end of the Trinity campus - was radical in terms of its architecture and function, providing a new kind of flexible ‘open-plate’ teaching environment for 21st century modes of exchange. Deane and Woodward’s radical Museum Building - with all of its material technical and learning innovation - about science and art - was always in our minds as a model.

Supported by a daring structure of double-stacked rotating cubes on twin cores, the building was designed in the image of a tree or tree-house with trunk and branches rising from strong roots to a garden in the air; airy courts below ground rise through plates of space moving as one ascends; staircases thread their way dizzily between levels, rising, turning and returning to see into classrooms and out to the city. The summation is a roof garden threaded through a double-height room looking back to the College- a very particular form of placemaking.

The Foundry understood but subtly radicalized the existing buildings around it; it promoted a new and vigorous relationship with them. The small Anatomy Building was recast as an arched portal; the Foundry stands in the lea of the Zoology building; geometrically related, it echoes its stone finish, but uses the old building as a frame, rising above it looking Westwards - the East End equivalent of Regent House overlooking College Green. The building formed the core of a masterplan for the whole East End, with a similar block proposed behind Chemistry to the South, a linking landscaping scheme and connections to all the surrounding streets.

10_180221 - Anatomy Building - Test 1-2.jpg
1_180222 - Image Park - 2 copy.jpg
17 and 58_Environmental Concept Diagram.jpg

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.

For press enquiries please contact Elise Bell at Caro Communications: Elise@carocommunications.com

 best international building

best international building

4428-180 copy 2.jpg

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. 

Temple Bar Gallery and Studio.jpg

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.

Temple Bar Music Centre.jpg


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.

MULL SECTS v2012.jpg