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UCC Student Hub

This is the restoration and extension of an existing historic building of national importance in the centre of a live historic campus of University College Cork. The site incorporates the existing stone cut Windle Medical Building and the area between this building and the prominent Kane Science Building. A new public space is created between the Windle Building and the protected structure of the University Quadrangle Buildings.

Student services were distributed across 25 different campus locations and the Students’ Union had a desire to centralise the activities of the Union under one roof. The new building aims to achieve cross promotion of student services, and creates a hub for student activities, with a sense of ownership and identity, reducing mobility problems and facilitating an efficient enjoyable service for all students.

Area:
4,000m2
Address:
University College Cork, College Road, Cork
Client:
University College Cork
GPS:
51°53'34.7"N 8°29'36.2"W
Competition:
End Year:

Three projects span twenty years of ODT’s continued engagement with the UCC campus plan: Glucksman Gallery (2005, Stirling Prize finalist), Cavanagh Bridge (2018, RIAI Award for Best Public Project) and now the Student Hub (2020).

The site for the New Student Hub Building is located at the heart of the Old University Campus. It is bounded to the East by the protected structure of the Quadrangle Building dating from 1849.

To the West there is the imposing façade of the Kane Science Building occupying the site of the old County Gaol.

To the south is the Old College Bar dating from the 1940s. An open, sylvan landscape to the north extends views towards Sundays Well and the greater Lee Valley.


The Windle Medical Building occupies a central position within this campus setting and is a Group 1 Category Building of Significance within the Conservation Plan for the University, and included on the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.


We carried out extensive research into the nature and of the building and worked to a scientific degree with building analysts and experts to arrive at an innovative, cost effective and highly sustainable approach to the repair and conservation of the historic building envelope.


We proposed demolition of a number of ad-hoc extensions to reveal the original structure and materiality.

UCC’s campus has a particular landscape character of quadrangles, courtyards and squares. Campus policies recognised the importance of creating “active outdoor spaces” and “external rooms”. However the previous setting of the Windle Building was greatly compromised by its use largely for carparking having an adverse effect on the landscape character of the historic campus core.

A public space was proposed for the New Student Hub, providing a new setting for the Windle Building. This new space includes a paved area, a grove of trees, a large covered outdoor gathering space and a new medical garden, as College archives revealed that the site had once been a medical garden for the campus. This will be an active social area, enabling a variety of student and learning led activities and interactions which compliment those activities envisaged for the Market Hall.

We developed a site specific sculptural concept for the architectural design, which uses the of the Windle building as its organising element. The delicate vertical “lantern” is tailored in height to the neighbouring Quadrangle buildings, and in form to respond to lines of sight along approaching vistas and from key campus locations and perspectives. This light filled lantern is raised above the Market Hall, a new University landmark, showcasing UCC at the forefront of innovation. The upper floors of the Lantern are clad in an elegant bronze-coloured glazing system relating to the darker slate clad roofs of the historic campus buildings. At night this metal-clad lantern glows like a beacon when glimpsed obliquely from corners and approaches.

The curved wall of the stone base responds to the established campus movement patterns. A large canopy signals the entrance and provides a new covered external space for the University. A new stone “arm” encloses a welcoming Market Hall, an active space where all life happens. Bridges and balconies crisscross and flank the Market Hall, activating and animating this student led technology enabled adaptable space.

The Hub extends over 6 floors, housing a range of facilities including:

- Integrated Student Services

- Student Development and Employability Services

- Innovative Teaching and Learning Spaces

- Performance Spaces

- A new home for the Students’ Union.


The building is designed to maximize daylight and natural ventilation and is efficiently planned to avoid the corporate effect of a centralised atrium. Naturally ventilated, daylit spaces, which are beautiful and useful now become the background to innovative teaching and learning, prompting and facilitating the creativity of their users.

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