Steven Holl Architects to Design Dublin Campus Expansion Inspired by Geologic Forms

This proposal for University College Dublin, announced today as the winner of an international competition, takes cues from the famed natural landmark Giant's Causeway.
Steven Holl Ireland University College Dublin Winning Design

The team’s winning proposal features geometric shapes inspired by the geology of the Giant’s Causeway. Courtesy Steven Holl Architects

Legend has it that long ago, an Irish giant named Finn MacCool built the roughly 40,000 interlocking hexagonal basalt columns that make up the Giant’s Causeway in the United Kingdom. Jutting out of the cliffs of Northern Ireland like a stairway to the sea, the UNESCO World Heritage Site was the inspiration behind the Steven Holl Architects (SHA)–designed winning proposal for University College Dublin’s campus expansion and new Centre for Creative Design in the Republic of Ireland.

SHA’s chosen design, part of an international competition launched earlier this year, will develop the school’s 60 acre site, which will also double as a new gateway to the university. Of the competition’s 98 teams across 28 countries, finalists included the Chicago-based John Ronan Architects, New York firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Dublin-based O’Donnell + Tuomey, New York’s Studio Libeskind, and Dutch firm UNStudio.

The winning scheme features stacked hexagonal prisms that echo the Giant’s Causeway’s geology, expansive glass walls that admit ample sunlight, and an auditorium that mirrors the shape of the school’s famed dodecahedral water tower.

Steven Holl Ireland University College Dublin Winning Design

Cafés and social spaces, along with rain- and wind-protected seating areas, dot the plan’s paths. Courtesy Steven Holl Architects

“Our master plan and the new UCD Centre for Creative Design are not just iconic objects,” said Steven Holl, founder of the firm, in a statement. “They reflect on the history and quality of UCD’s campus, responding to the particulars of the site to create place and space.”

Alongside SHA, the winning team includes Dublin-based Kavanagh Tuite Architects, consultants from Brightspot Strategy, structural engineers from Arup, landscape architects from HarrisonStevens, and engineering consultants at Transsolar.

“Holl’s emphasis on daylight and social connection promises a building which will enable and encourage collaboration and interaction, a building which is open and welcoming, a building in which cutting-edge technologies and core creative practices can fruitfully combine,” said Hugh Campbell, an architecture professor at UCD and member of the competition jury, in a statement.

According to The Irish Times, the university hopes to complete the project by 2021.

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Categories: Educational Architecture