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2003 – Unbuilt Dublin – U2 Landmark Tower

Architects: 3W

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Our scheme aims to optimise the site and its location whilst being an iconic building appropriately anchored in its site and industrial roots. The siting of elements within its plan form enable an expression of structure and function whilst providing opportunities for energy production such as wind power, water power and heat recovery. The location of uses within the proposed section means that privacy increases with height except for the public observation platform at the very summit of the ‘chimney’.

The material choice for the building have clear roots in industrial buildings but have been refined to give a sophistication associated with a world-class landmark structure. Changes in materials for the varying functions of the development give a clear understanding to overall composition. The economics of construction have been carefully considered and have resulted in a highly resolved economic structure that does not compromise the architectural intent of the vision.

The point tower located to the north of the site and facing the river Liffey consists of two extrusions of concrete. The purpose of these concrete extrusions is to provide a strong architectural presence for the development, helping anchor the building in its context not only literally but also in its allusion to dockland waterside structures such as chimneys, lighthouses, cranes and substantial, monolithic dock buildings. The height of the building and its orthogonal form give a scale and geometry that responds well to the river Liffey.

These concrete extrusions also provide a structural role in helping to brace the entire development to the south. The separation of the concrete tower from the glass tower provides a good location for housing wind turbines.

This structure due to its height provides a great opportunity for an observation platform. As well as housing a large, high-level water storage tank. This tank can be filled by natural means but also by pumps powered by the wind turbines. This body of water is used for the irrigation of the roof gardens as well as being a source of potential energy that can help power the U2 studio as well as the lifts that provide access to it and the observation tower.

The location of the access and structural bracing systems to the north of the development allows for uninterrupted views to the east, south and west.

The residential element of the development is located within a lightweight glass tower providing a visual foil to the mass of the north tower. The residential tower is given added lightness by having a very layered lacy façade created by perimeter single glazed ‘conservatories’. These ‘conservatories’ have a number of environmental functions. They provide a buffer zone that substantially reduces the ‘wind-chill’ off the controlled face of the building. The triple glazing characteristics created by these glazed conservatories allows the use of full height glazing, maximising daylight penetration. White louvred terracotta balustrading on the inside of the outer skin provide a useful thermal mass. These balustrades also allow furniture to be used within these conservatories without creating an unsightly mess on the façade. Landlord provided solar controlled fabric blinds on the inside of the single glazed outer skin allow for effective protections as well as providing an opportunity to introduce colour into the scheme. This idea of colour could be developed with a local artist. 4 residential units have been proposed for each floor but this could easily be adapted to suit 3, 2 or even 1 single unit. There is also the possibility for duplex apartments.

The area between the residential tower and the office development is a residential amenity area with gym, café, landscaped garden and concierge area for reception and post. This zone gives a visual break between the office and residential tower.

The commercial office element of the development is located within a ‘corten’ louver clad block. These louvers are on the east, south and west façades providing good solar protection. A fully glazed picture window faces north onto the river Liffey. The use of ‘corten’ gives the building an industrial feel and alludes to ship construction without being literal. Internally the office has exposed concrete soffits, which act as climate modulators reducing the buildings ‘peaks’ and ‘ troughs’ for heating and cooling. The exposed concrete soffits also give the office space a warehouse character differentiating it from a standard commercial office environment. Air is supplied through the raised floor. The chillers required to cool this supply air will be supplemented by chilled water provided from the proposed borehole. The location of the cores allows for the offices to be easily divided allowing for sub-letting depending upon the number of tenants.

The ground and first floors are the public areas of the development. These include a bar, restaurant, nightclub and retail outlets. The area of the development is heavily glazed to display the functions so as to act as a visual draw as well as providing excellent views out to the river Liffey and the grand canal dock area. Hard landscaping at the base of the development allows for functions such as the bar and the restaurant to spill out on to the dockside.

Access to the carpark is off Britain Quay via a ramp at the very south of the site. This provides parking for the residential units as well as providing descrete access to the lifts for the U2 studio. The majority of the plant requirements will also be housed in the basement.