The balancing of aesthetics and functionality has resulted in a building that looks and performs to a world class standard.


An Interview
With TOT

01How did you approach balancing aesthetics with functionality in the design?

Balancing aesthetics and functionality is critical to the success of any project. There were planning challenges for this site given its location and configuration and TOT needed to deliver a significant building with a quality public realm to satisfy the local authority requirements but also provide quality office space that is efficient and harnesses the potential of the site and wider environs. A lot of time was spent developing the site layout, building form, façade strategy and floor footprint. An efficient and centrally located main core allowed for maximum use of the façade perimeter providing quality office space.

This in turn fed into the LEED and wellness strategy for the building creating a positive work environment. There have been challenges with national and global changes resulting in difficult decisions, but the quality of materials and space were never compromised.

Another area that required a careful balance of aesthetic and function was the main core. An efficient space planning incorporating stairs, lifts, sanitary provision, and service risers is offset by generous circulation spaces while achieving a high net to gross percentage. Careful selection of materials, used in a simple but elegant way have delivered a model for future developments. The balancing of aesthetics and functionality has resulted in a building that looks and performs to a world class standard.

02How does this office building contribute to the surrounding community or urban environment?

Dublin’s character is derived from its historical layers, ranging from its medieval origins to contemporary interventions. The sidings were constructed in 1879 as railway sidings for the Dublin, Wicklow and Wexford railway. The eastern end of the sidings site lies within an Architectural Conservation Area centred on the adjacent Grand Canal Dock. The railway line and the sidings form part of the area’s industrial heritage. Glimpses of this can also be seen in the immediate context, in particular along Grand Canal dock basin where many industrial style buildings and warehouses are still intact

03How does the design promote wellness and well-being among the occupants?

The project team and the facilities management team conducted a complete health and wellness review of the building. The objective was to ensure the building incorporated design characteristics and systems that would offer enhanced health and wellness benefits to tenants and users.

The areas focused on were:

  • Ventilation and Air Quality
  • Circulation routes and areas of congregation, entrances, and lobby cores.
  • Access to quality outdoor work and break out space, on every floor.

A distinguishing advantage for each floor of the Sidings is the benefit of outdoor winter gardens or terraces. These provide breakout spaces and spaces for working and meeting in the fresh air, taking advantage of sunlight and spectacular views over the city and the docklands. These are spaces of delightful respite at any time.

The landscaped areas and terraces are a fundamental part of the design proposal. Green spaces contribute to a healthy city and the well-being of its inhabitants. Along the site access route, a linear garden is proposed against the southern boundary wall. At level 5, the rising parapet provides shelter to the terrace, creating a contemporary walled garden. It will be a protected space providing a year-round amenity for the office workers. At level 7, the theme of bedrock and greenery together in harmony is conceived as part of the overall proposal. The planted spaces intersect with the paving pattern creating a varied grain.

Another important design element to promote wellness is the level access to the cycle store. Cyclists can enter the building via the landscaped southern access road or via the access corridor along the northern boundary. The staff facilities are adjacent to the cycle store and from there directly to lifts and floors above. The design has been assessed and certified by Active Score in the UK and achieved a Platinum score. This certification rates buildings according to an official set of standards that determine a building’s micromobility friendliness. These standards were developed in conjunction with industry professionals, travel planners, tenants and executives in cycle/microbility orientated businesses.

Active Score certification demonstrates how active commuter-friendly a building is. Platinum is the highest rating possible and demonstrates a superb commitment to active commuting from a client.

04What aspects of this project are you most proud of, and why?

This was a complex project. A large building located on a linear site close to the busiest rail line in the country. There have been many challenges with the project from statutory issues to ground works and conservation. Resolving these

issues would be a reason to be proud of how this project has been delivered but the aspect of the project that gives most pride is the façade. This was designed, modelled and manufactured with an entire team effort. The façade components were developed to BIM level 2 for coordination of precast panels, windows, unitised glazing and curtain wall glazing. These elements were also coordinated with the other building element interfaces such as structure, partitions, ceilings etc. Intense workshops with the design team and contractors resulting in a seamless façade installation adjacent to a rail line with a limited work zone. The façade aesthetic compliments its historic setting but behind this façade lies a complex design process that the whole team are very proud of.

05How do you foresee the wintergardens being best utilised by occupants?

The introduction of the wintergardens into the design was to create interest in the façade, provide open space to 80% of the floors and provide breakout space (either internal or external) that has southern aspect. Spaces to meet, to mentor, to relax and to breathe.

The purpose of the wintergardens is to create spaces that will have direct contact with nature. Whether that is from fresh air when open or by the plants that could occupy the space. This could be further developed using materials that evoke a sense of nature and trigger human responses to the space. These spaces have the potential to enhance wellbeing and creativity.

06What original materials were incorporated into the design?

The original limestone sidings retaining wall has been retained and is one of the main architectural features of the entrance foyer. The wall built in 1879 has been cleaned down and repointed. The section of wall that was removed has been

delineated in the landscape design with modern interventions linking the building with the street outside. During the excavation of the site a significant amount of a Hoffman kiln was uncovered. This was recorded and some of the brick retained and used as a feature wall at the main entrance to the building. A granite wall runs the length of the southern boundary wall and this is the wall of the old Bolands bakery. This wall has been reduced in height but still runs the length of the site. The granite has been cleaned and the wall repointed. All these original elements again add to the uniqueness of the building and give it an identity.

07Tell us about how you incorporated the railway heritage into the design.

The site belongs to the docklands neighbourhood and has strong roots in the industrial heritage of the city as it forms part of the railway infrastructure. The bridges of the railway line and the retaining wall forming the sidings are constructed in snecked and squared limestone. This railway heritage is at the heart of many of the design decisions for this project as it gives the building its unique character.

The Sidings historic wall is the main feature to the building foyer and the adjacent brick façade hovers over this wall, respecting not overpowering. The selection of materials both externally and internally reflect the original context and surrounding. Modern materials sitting comfortably with historic materials. The feature light in the foyer area maps out the original rail tracks of the sidings.

This was important for both architect and client. This unique site needed to retain its identity.