Degrees of excellence

11 July 2018



LEAF Review showcases the six finalists battling to design the new Centre for Creative Design at University College Dublin.


University College Dublin (UCD) has long enjoyed a radical reputation. In 1880, it became the first Catholic university in Ireland, knocking against centuries of Protestant tradition; 150 years on, UCD is proving its progressive credentials once again – this time through architecture.

Its ‘Future Campus’ competition invites practices to submit ideas for a new €48-million Centre for Creative Design (CCD). At the same time, candidates are being asked to offer visions for a wider renovation of the UCD entrance precinct, in the Belfield suburb of Dublin. College bosses hope the redesign can shape UCD’s identity as a creative hub, and provide a welcoming atmosphere for visitors and students.

From 98 entries, judges have shortlisted six, incorporating some of the most distinguished firms on Earth and a range of spectacular contemporary designs. The winner will be announced in August.

John Ronan Architects

This firm establishes a pedestrian-friendly campus punctuated by bold new spaces. Wide fields and the new prominence given to Ardmore and Belfield estate houses make the site easy to navigate. At ten storeys, the CCD dominates the landscape around it, while landscaped terraces and an enclosed winter garden link students with nature – even if they spend all day cramming for exams.

UNStudio

UNStudio reimagines the campus as a vibrant marketplace, lacing cultural and commercial destinations around the central pillar of the CCD. Open to all Dubliners – not just students – the master plan would kick start a culture of engagement between UCD and the surrounding city. The CCD itself curls up above the campus like a wedding cake, offering a 360° view of Dublin.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Thoughtfully combining sharp, modern buildings with a rural setting, the CCD will be framed by ‘rewilded’ copses and winding paths. The centre will be dominated by a looming timber roof, sweeping down to protect students from the elements before ending in a dramatic event space with views over Dublin Bay.

Studio Libeskind

Taking inspiration from the Book of Kells, an illuminated Dark Age manuscript, landscapes and public paths interweave like pen strokes on parchment, all flanked by several independent building complexes. Borrowing from another Irish masterpiece, each complex represents one of the nine muses in James Joyce’s Ulysses. The CCD is at the centre of the plan – its terraced planters providing shade and continuing the theme of natural beauty.

Steven Holl Architects

‘Place’ and ‘space’ are the key watchwords of this master plan, which aims to reflect the history of the location, while providing room for robust education. Seven quadrangles – each open and grassy – provide plenty of natural light. The geometries of the buildings are also inspired by the Giant’s Causeway and Joyce’s novels.

O’Donnell + Tuomey

The only Irish firm on the shortlist imagines UCD as an ecological campus. Radically restructuring the Stillorgan Road bridge and reinstalling a handsome walled garden, the plan hopes to create new density out of the land. The CCD, all glass, floats out from the trees, translucent in daytime and a lantern at night. Roof gardens provide ample social space for students.

John Ronan Architects
UNStudio
Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Studio Libeskind
Steven Holl Architects
O’Donnell + Tuomey


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