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UCD Future Campus

Future Campus: Masterplan

The masterplan reimagines UCD as an ecological campus, a community engaged with its context and in dialogue with the wider world. Our vision was for the urbanisation of Belfield as a natural extension of its inherited landscape. A transformative plan connects the campus core to the main entrance: Arts Block to R138 in a 5-minute walk by an urban sequence of landscaped terraces. The radically restructured Stillorgan Road bridge becomes a symbol of welcome to UCD. The beautiful walled garden is reinstated. A new density rises out of the established ground.

A Beacon for Belfield

The Centre for Creative Design, the landmark gateway project for the masterplan, is an asymmetrically balanced design, a floating structure of glass and concrete. In the daytime, it is translucent. At night, it is a lantern. The façade is an energy-efficient etched-glass envelope. Studio life is on show. Roof gardens provide social space. A new civic realm is created at the entrance to the university.

The masterplan, designed in cooperation with Allies and Morrison, gives UCD a strong physical presence in the City, creates a welcoming entrance and reinforces and consolidates UCD Belfield’s image as a Woodland Campus. The vision is to create a Future Campus built around a strong landscape framework that promotes lively relationships, engages with its local context and is in open dialogue with the wider world, a welcoming and legibly connected campus, a framework that encourages creative exchange and cross-disciplinary activity.

UCD today enjoys a series of remarkable assets: an inspirational, founding masterplan, now extended southwards with the addition of a second lake, a heritage of historic buildings and their settings. In our proposal a sequence of new spaces and routes are added to the existing structure to provide a locus for the required new accommodation and, critically, to create a new gateway to the campus.

The campus has a well established landscape, a strong orientation towards the sea, convenient access to the city via the Stillorgan Road. What structures the area are two key open spaces characterised by one of the two lakes, around which the majority of the buildings are located. What the campus lacks - and what the Future Campus project provides - is presence on the street, and a real front door.

The Entrance Today

The entrance to a campus needs to be neither grand nor formal, but it needs to be welcoming and provide a sense of orientation, it is crucial to the visitor’s first impression of the University. The current entrance to the campus fails on all these counts: it distributes traffic, but it doesn’t welcome people.

The Future Entrance

The entrance we proposed draws together all members of the University arriving by public transport together with all first time visitors. It would offer a clear and immediate route into the heart of the campus, and allow easy access to visitor parking.

Phasing and Flexibility

In the masterplan, each new incremental element, each academic cluster, is considered in three ways:

  • - as a site-specific place that works well, each phase is complete in itself,
  • - as contribution to the legibility of the overall scheme, and
  • - as an extrapolation that develops out of the existing structure.

By this means, every step in the phased implementation of the masterplan will feel obvious and inevitable. The sum of the parts will add to the sense of the whole. Each of the interrelated development zones is considered as a precinct, a cluster of interdisciplinary buildings of various typologies, in a number of configurations. This is a very practical model, enabling the college to focus on one cluster at a time, finished at every stage, each with its associated public realm.

The Centre for Creative Design

The CCD is the first move in setting out the proposed Engineering and Architecture Precinct. It is outward facing, innovative and welcoming. It is designed to be ready to inspire students, staff and visitors with the critical role of the idea of design in contemporary education. Studio life is on show in this translucent, floating structure. People can be seen out on the landscaped terraces. The building invites curiosity.

The CCD generates a new civic space for UCD, a landscaped arena on the axis of everyday approach to the campus. The Centre opens onto the Central Promenade, the public space leading from the main entrance directly to the heart of the campus, consistsing of a series of landscaped terraces: spaces to meander, places to sit and chat, vantage points to overlook the experimental activities of the Future Space labs.

Cross Collaboration

The design takes advantage of opportunities for collaboration between year groups, and between varying disciplines. Open floorplates foster co-learning and beneficial cross-collaboration between different studios. A principle of the studio culture of learning by doing is that students learn from and teach each other. Year groups overlap as students advance each year to the next studio, progressing through the interlocking levels of the studios.

A Living, Learning Lab

The façade of glass and integrated photovoltaic louvres is designed to allow views in and out. The building itself is an innovative construction where technology is embedded within the architecture. The outer glass layer, a shield of vertical louvres, open to the north, and oriented differently to protect the different elevations from solar gain, is an intelligent energy-saving skin. The Centre for Creative Design is a living, learning lab. The construction, material and visual form of the building combine to make a unified whole with exemplary sustainability credentials.


  • Architects: O’Donnell + Tuomey / Allies and Morrison
  • Landscape Architects: Hargreaves Associates
  • Architectural Infrastructure: Plattenbau Studio & Superposition

  • Sustainability / MEP Engineers: Max Fordham
  • Civil / Structural Engineers: Horganlynch
  • Transport Consultants: Phil Jones Associates
  • Visualisations: Picture Plane


  • AV, 117 2023, AV Proyectos, O'Donnell + Tuomey

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