Wednesday 25 July 2007

UCD planning €450m facelift to create community campus

UNIVERSITY College Dublin (UCD) is planning to make a dramatic new mark on the Dublin landscape with a development that will serve both students and the public.

UCD yesterday unveiled the winner of an international architectural competition to transform the Belfield campus, which has a daily population of up to 25,000, into a vibrant community with strong links between learning and living.

Award-winning German architect Christoph Ingenhoven was selected. His designs include the new Lufthansa headquarters in Germany and the European Investment Bank in Luxembourg, which is under construction.

The name for the project, Gateway, gives a sense of how the college hopes to open up to the public, starting with a commanding presence above the Stillorgan dual carriageway (N11). The curved, glass and timber facade of the six-storey high buildings edging the N11 will "sweep visitors into a light-filled pedestrian plaza" leading to the main campus, which is also being improved.

The Gateway will house many of the new amenities, including a hotel, shops, a medical centre, culture and exhibition centre, creche, an extra 1,000 student residences, and offices for research and development projects - all of which will pay for the project.

The new campus will be vehicle free, with buses stopping at the perimeter, and the surface car parks that are now near the entrance will be replaced with multi-storey and underground facilities to include the space currently used as the running track

The green theme includes plans to reduce energy consumption, with natural ventilation and solar and geothermal-based air conditioning systems.


There will be a "green oasis" at the heart of the campus, with two circular green spaces bounded by a tree-lined walk and traversed by pathways. To help form the circles, the lake will be reduced in size and have its concrete edges softened.

UCD president Dr Hugh Brady said the facilities would allow the college to expand its conference provision and increase usage of the campus during university holidays.

He said there would be a cultural/entertainment centre for students, which would also attract locals and visitors to Dublin.

Dr Brady said what he loved about Mr Ingenhoven's design was that it drew inspiration from trees and the small woods on the campus, escaping the traditional quadrangle look associated with universities.

"He keeps a sense of community. What I love is that the student comes first," said Dr Brady.

The development will cost an estimated €450m. It will be financed under a public-private model in partnership with a development consortium, with UCD ultimately taking ownership. It means that the college, which has carried the €1.3m cost of the architectural competition, will not have to raise the money.

The plans also include changes to the N11 flyover, and the whole project is subject to a planning application to the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Council. The project also depend on strength of the commercial market - although the already interest in taking over the hotel - and it is anticipated that the first phase will be completed by 2013.

However, former Dublin lord mayor and Labour councillor Dermot Lacey said that Dr Brady was refusing to meet his neighbours to discuss the proposed development.


"Quite simply, his behaviour is nauseating," Mr Lacey said.

"Without as much as a letter to inform their neighbours, the UCD authorities last year submitted a planning application for a massive development of 500 apartments, office complex and ancillary buildings."

The site notices for these developments were placed about a mile away from the houses most affected, he said.

While Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Council granted permission, residents appealed the decision to An Bord Pleanala and won.

Mr Lacey said that the local residents intend to vigorously contest the new planning application.

Katherine Donnelly
Irish Independent

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