The Brief

This competition was a two-stage process. The first stage was a global search for an integrated multidisciplinary design team, based on relevant skills and past experience.

This culminated in the selection of six teams. At the second stage, these teams visited the site, received further briefing, and produced their visions for the Entrance Precinct Masterplan and concept designs for the Centre for Creative Design; these can be viewed in the Shortlist Gallery. The jury met in July 2018 to interview the shortlist and selected the team led by Steven Holl Architects as the winner of the competition. Each finalist team received an honorarium of €40,000 at the end of the process.

At the competition’s first stage, UCD was seeking creative multidisciplinary teams organised under a lead consultant and including expertise in architecture, masterplanning, urban design, landscape, sustainability, engineering and transport planning.

At the second stage, teams were invited to propose additional consultancy including, but not limited to, planning, lighting design, wayfinding and accessibility. In addition, international teams were expected to propose an executive team based in Ireland. These additional consultants were assessed at the second stage, on quality and integration into the design team, including the requirement to pass minimum qualification standards.

Shortlisted competitors at stage two were required to consider the two challenges of the brief: the Entrance Precinct Masterplan and the Centre for Creative Design.

The Entrance Precinct Masterplan covers an area of 23.8 ha, within which there is the potential for up to 335,000 sq m of new development (representing a footprint of circa 67,000 sq m). The new masterplan will provide a holistic strategy to guide future development on campus. It should give the University immediate physical presence and visibility, communicating its intent as an internationally-minded, dynamic and creative place of learning. It should cue a highly attractive environment (day and night, season to season) that promotes a strong sense of community and sociability, and creates an atmosphere conducive to new ways of learning and thinking.

The masterplan should address the current difficulties with the arrival experience at UCD, which is considered to be underwhelming. The entrance, framed by 1960s traffic engineering, is low key, nondescript and unfriendly to pedestrians and cyclists.

A welcoming arrival experience is essential to showcase the expansive green campus and this should reflect the University’s long-term ambition to consolidate the core estate, ensuring an approximate five minute walk between key academic buildings. Wayfinding and circulation on and off campus need to be both intuitive and coordinated, embracing the ideals of Wejchert’s strong pedestrian spine in a 21st-century form.

The Entrance Precinct is also intended as a nexus connecting Dublin and the University as well as the entrance and the campus core. To support the entry experience, a further 5.35 ha of land owned by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council adjoining the campus boundary is included within the brief. It supports wider initiatives planned for the Greater Dublin Area.

The first building to be delivered within the Entrance Precinct Masterplan is the 8,000 sq m Centre for Creative Design. A charismatic yet well-integrated building, it should be located in a prominent position, a landmark when viewed from within and outside the campus. A home for creative experimentation and fabrication, including the UCD Creative Skills Academy, the building will contain a range of design studios, laboratories and maker spaces. Bringing these creative workspaces together are formal and informal spaces for gathering and engagement. As a living lab, it will be a teaching resource as creative and experiential as the functions it contains; it will promote inter-disciplinary engagement. The building is also conceived as an exemplar of sustainability.

Budget and programme: The total project value for the Centre for Creative Design is estimated to be €48 million. The contract is expected to commence in autumn 2018, with anticipated completion by autumn 2021. Following the competition, the team will initially be contracted to develop a feasibility stage masterplan report for the Entrance Precinct Masterplan and undertake a brief development and concept design phase for the Centre for Creative Design project.