Bord Gais Networks Building, Irish Architecture, Competition, Images, Finglas Project
Bord Gais Networks, Ireland : Finglas Building
Bord Gais Networks – design by Oliver Chapman Architects
13 Nov 2008
Bord Gais Networks – National Distribution Control Centre, Finglas, Dublin
Design: Oliver Chapman Architectst
Bord Gais Networks Building in Finglas
Oliver Chapman Architects were successful in being invited to the second stage of an international competition for the new headquarters’ building for the Irish gas board. The site, located in the suburb of Finglas (north-west of Dublin’s city centre), encompasses many of the issues and opportunities currently facing the city. It is hoped that the new building will act as a catalyst for the area and bring considerable economic benefits along with an enhanced diversity of uses (live/work/play/relax) essential for any vibrant, sustainable community.
The site lies at the very edge of the city, just inside the M50 ring-road, and looks across to tilled fields. Our proposal maintains the low-lying and open character of the surrounding landscape, and can be seen as a series of folded planes set within a triangular form. The proximity of the airport and the development of the motorway have resulted in the expansion of light industrial activities in the area. However, these uses are encroaching into what was historically agricultural land. Our approach is a response to the contemporary dilemma of sustaining economic growth without sacrificing the inherent qualities of the site.
Working closely with Arup Scotland + Hardies, the building is budgeted at €17,500,000. However, it is well integrated into the site topography and takes advantage of orientation and solar gain (where appropriate). It is predominantly single storey to reduce vertical circulation and costly upper floors but is peppered with ‘fissures’ (irregular shaped open courtyards) which bring daylight into every part of this deep plan matrix and allow individual control of the natural ventilation. The primary external envelop is constructed of variegated re-claimed brick with full height slot windows creating a comb-like façade. Where the external envelope folds back to create a landscaped court, a curtain wall glazing system wraps around these ‘pocket parks’ and gives glimpses into and through the lush landscape. Each courtyard has a distinct ‘personality’ relating to different aspects of the natural environment (turf, moss, ferns, etc.). The mass of the grass roof reduces aircraft noise pollution and provides an attractive ‘horizontal elevation’.
We have adopted an ‘in-side-out’ approach which prioritizes the working environment, rather than strive for some grandiose architectural statement. The resultant building is expansive, open-plan and studded with a number of small oasis’s of lush vegetation. Hopefully this will encourage staff to develop new flexile ways of working based on inter-change and connectivity. Our building occupies almost all of the given site which allows us to organise everyone on a shared plane, with occasional mezzanine gallery ‘pop-ups’ to provide some variety. This approach eschews the inevitable segregation and explicit hierarchical nature of stacked floor plates.
Some may view the scheme as a ‘Don’t Look at Me’-type building but we would argue that this is a wholly appropriate response, given the nature of the client body, the site’s particular location and the current financial climate, We want to avoid any repetition of the clashing egos which so often blighted major projects throughout the 1990’s.
Bord Gais Networks National Distribution Control Centre images / information from Oliver Chapman Architects 131108
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