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.

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