On a fieldtrip to Dublin in January 2015 I visited the UCD Student Centre with Karen Hassey, an architect at Dublin based Fitzgerald Kavanagh and Partners. Winner of the Universal Design Award and the Public Choice Award in the 2013 RIAI (The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland) Irish Architecture Awards, the Student Centre is a leading example of Universal Design in Ireland.
Sitting on a plaza between the 1964 UCD sport complex and the original Student Centre built in 2001, the new Centre unifies 11,000 square metres of space under a bird-wing glulam timber structure and is home to a number of interconnected social, creative and sporting facilities, including a 50 metre swimming pool, tepidarium, gym, blackbox theatre, cinema, debating chamber, and café.
Funded by the student body and developed in consultation with UCD students, the design uses primary colours to provide orientation, spatial definition and a foil to the traditional grey architecture of the campus. Perched above the gallery walkspace the canary yellow radio pod makes a statement entrance piece, while electric green glows from the sporting areas and corridors and red pops out from the dance pod and in the small details of seating and handrails, helping people to wayfind between different zones.
Surrounded by residential areas, the Student Centre provides a civic space for the whole community, with family changing facilities, accessible toilets and showers, and flexible seating located throughout. As Aidan Kavanagh writes, ““the architecture is founded on precepts of legibility, commutativity and universal access”, combining ease of use with a vibrant sense of fun.
For more information see: A Day in the Life: UCD Student Centre by Fitzgerald Kavanagh and Partners