2012 – University of Limerick Medical School
Constructed to the north of the Shannon, accessible by pedestrian bridge from the existing campus, Grafton Architects designed a new medical school building and accommodation buildings for students attending the facility. These new buildings are also intended to address a large public open space which will ultimately become the focal point for this expansion of the campus to the North. Aspects of the formal character are derived from an interpretation of the campus master plan which requires an organic approach to the making of public spaces on the north side of the river Shannon.
This new suite of buildings combines with three existing, neighbouring institutions, the Sports Pavilion, the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance and the Health Sciences Building, in order to make a new public space. The new buildings consist of a medical school, three blocks of student housing and a canopy / pergola.The Medical School, the last in a series of set pieces, acts as an anchor around which the other buildings now loosely rotate. The language of the medical school is that of an educational institution while the student residences appear like three large houses.
Limestone is used to represent the ‘formal’ central medical school, making reference to the limestone territory of County Clare in which this side of the campus is located. The stone wall is folded, profiled and layered in response to orientation, sun , wind, rain and public activity. A colonnade to the south and west corner acts as a gathering and entrance space. In contrast the north and east walls are more mute.
In response to the deep plan, the roof-form is modulated to draw light deep into the section. An open central stair connecting all of the primary spaces, threads through all levels of the interior, designed as a social space with enough room to stop and chat or lean on a balustrade / shelf and view the activity of the entrance and other spaces above and below.
Brick follows through to the residences from the existing accommodation buildings behind. Here the material is given depth and the facades deeply carved providing a form of threshold between the domestic interior and the public space that they overlook. All living spaces address the public space to the south east with the more private study bedrooms facing north east or north west.
Photographs: Dennis Gilbert