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Denis Byrne Architects win Bord Gais Networks National Distribution Control Building Competition

Published: Monday, November 10, 2008

Bord Gáis Networks is pleased to announce that the winner of the National Distribution Control Building at Dubber Cross, Finglas is Denis Byrne Architects.    

The RIAI (Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland) administered the competition on behalf of the competition promoters, Bord Gáis Networks, a division of Bord Gáis that constructs and extends the gas network in Ireland and connects all customers to the network. The services provided include safety and emergency response, pipeline service laying and modification and meter installations and alterations.

On announcing the winning entry, John Barry, Managing Director, Bord Gáis Networks said; “Bord Gáis has always had a strong commitment to environmental protection and sustainable development in its operations so these factors were critical in choosing a winning design. In addition, incorporating the critical functions carried out in this building, really the heart of Bord Gáis Networks operations, was a further challenge that had to be met.  The standard of entries was exceptionally high but we are looking forward to working with Denis Byrne Architects on this exciting and innovative project.”    

This open, two stage competition for the architectural design of a new Bord Gáis Networks Distribution Control Centre at Dubber Cross, Finglas, Dublin needed to address a number of issues particular to the project such as; the building needed to reflect the Bord Gáis Networks commitment to environmental protection, energy conservation and sustainable development; it needed to take into account the services carried out by Bord Gáis Networks; it needed to allow for a degree of flexibility of use in its internal planning; the site layout and design needed to have regard to the adjoining Charlestown development and the building should sit in harmony within its physical context.

The winning entry takes its inspiration from industrial and infrastructure buildings rather than a sophisticated office typology.  The building provides a home base for the diversity of activities, both within the building and for its mobile staff checking in and out. Organised over two levels with gardens and circulation woven to an informal fabric of flowing internal and external spaces with meeting and social areas interspersed, the building promotes an inter-departmental, multi-disciplinary approach to staff interaction and organisation. A layer of perforated metal wraps the building as a light and permeable, yet robust protective skin that reacts and expresses sensitively both to the program behind and the external microclimate and the building’s orientation. 

At Stage 1, a very wide range of design and site configuration solutions were proposed in the 56 competition entries, ranging from a multi-storey tower block to a one-storey complex covering the entire site.

The jury (John Barry, MD of Bord Gáis Networks, John Cussen, Project Manager, Bord Gáis Networks, Kevin O’Rourke, Head of Built Environment, Sustainable Energy Ireland Louise Cotter, Partner, Carr Cotter & Naessens and Niall McCullough, Partner, McCullough Mulvin Architects) was most impressed with the wide range of creative, high-quality, design solutions submitted for the building.

Against this encouraging outcome, three general comments can be made regarding the limitations observed with a number of the entries;

  • There were a high number of design solutions where the distinction between the functional entities was not fully understood and the internal circulation was difficult to comprehend.
  • The challenge of providing car parking on the site was ignored in some cases.
  • It was also noted that a number of competitors misinterpreted the Distribution Control Centre as a corporate headquarters rather than an operational hub carrying out a wide variety of functions.

Nonetheless, the jury was impressed with the design solutions submitted.

The jury selected eight entries to go forward to Stage 2 of the competition.  These were submissions numbered 4, 13, 14, 17, 35, 49, 52 and 55.

At Stage 2 the jury was most impressed with the well considered responses to be brief from the eight short-listed entries. There was an interesting range of designs and approaches taken to addressing the brief and all were worthy of serious consideration. While the final decision was difficult given the high design quality of each of the eight finalists, the unanimous view of the jury was that competition submission No. 4 was the clear winner.

Number 4 - Winner: Denis Byrne Architects
The winning scheme offered an innovative and achievable work of modern architecture. The entry scored very high from a sustainability point of view. The project utilised the site well, making the building at the southern end and locating the parking behind it. The amorphous external form with projecting tower (which would be visible across the M50) was innovative; the internal layout studded with natural ventilation courtyards was flexible and interesting, offering cross views to landscape. The relationship between the different working areas was appropriate with the sense of a common working environment.

The unsuccessful shortlist submissions were;

Number 13: NORD LLP
The entrant provided specific responses to queries which were raised by the judges in respect of the Stage 1 submission. The design includes an intelligent assessment of the economic and technical viability of different sustainable technologies and proposes established and proven technology. The scheme offered a controlled geometry of entrance and circulation on two lower levels with the office building growing up and out of it to make a convincing overall form. The siting of the building and its relationship to the made landscape was resolved in a convincing and elegant manner.

Number 14: VMX Architects
This scheme proposed a strong geometry of repetitive curved courtyards on several levels; the scheme demonstrated excellent potential for inside-outside space with excellent approaches to materiality. The entry scored very high from a sustainability point of view.

Number 17: Heneghan Peng Architects
This was a very clear design concept which met aspects of the brief well. It projected a simple yet compelling linear form well integrated with the site, developing a good landscaped solution against the bank. Internal planning was fluid and flexible.

Number 35: Lawrence & Long Architects
The design was modified very well for Stage 2 to allow for above ground parking. It developed a strong character of rooms and spaces around a triangular courtyard – a well envisaged quiet oasis of greenery and calm with a convincing entrance sequence from the southern boundary of the site.

Number 49: Hascher + Jehle Planungsgeselschaft mbH
The design incorporated a novel approach to the car park and landscape design, making a strong triangular site plan with a strongly designed building at the southern end of the site. The scheme dealt convincingly with the issue of expansion.

Number 52: Bucholz McEvoy Architects Ltd.
The design advanced considerably between Stages 1 and 2 and fully took into account the comments raised by the jury following Stage 1. The curved geometry of the building showed potential for the development of strong internal social and working spaces between the blocks.

Number 55: Oliver Chapman Architects
The scheme proposed a network of courtyards and routes in a triangular form on the site.  It offered the possibility of a discreet and appropriate working environment in conjunction with an attractive sequence of open spaces. The entry scored high from a sustainability point of view.

Categories: Competitions


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