Virus Reference Laboratory

This extension to the Virus Reference Laboratory was built on a restricted site in University College Dublin between the main laboratory and Ardmore House. Although small in scale, the project plays a significant role in the relationship between the central university buildings and the surrounding landscape, and, in particular, the lake directly below it. Quite different in shape and materials, the pavilion was designed to both support and challenge the ideas of architecture in landscape that permeated the original campus design in the 1960's. Laid out with offices above and a laboratory, canteen and meeting facility on the ground floor, it is everywhere concerned with being in landscape and with the interpretation of landscape.

At a local level, one side is framed by a rational triangular shape on the ground plane - the inner edge is intimately tied around a small Japanese garden. The plan is simple: open space with a coloured core like a cell nucleus which can be glimpsed in the round as one moves around the building. Additional height to parapets gives it a cube-like proportional muscularity: the elevations are clad in a skin of abstract interlocking and overlapping shapes in which glazing and timber panels project and recede from the main surface.

The new building forms a functional unit with the existing Berkeley and Lecky libraries - all three are connected under podium level the Berkeley has been retained as the main entrance to the whole complex - a new staircase descends from it to a new orientation space serving all three. The new library had to fit into a very strong urban context, standing on an edge condition between Trinity and Dublin; it keeps to the grid of the College while recognising the line of Nassau Street. The building is like a gateway - three books forming open space between them framing views and routes from the city into the College. By its shape and location on the site, the project establishes two strongly configured urban spaces at podium level - one against the rear of the Berkeley, open at the corners in the Trinity manner, with generous steps from the Park and Library square - the other between the new Library and the street - which will serve as a public and tourist access to the College.

As featured on Archiseek