RMJM completes glass-heavy Engineering Facility at National University of Ireland
The September intake of engineering students at the National University of Ireland in Galway (NUI Galway) have a lot to look forward to in their academic programme; world class tutoring, engaging projects and a shining new teaching building courtesy of the Scottish Studio of international practice RMJM. The firm has been slaughtered in the press for many months over their financial downfalls which have resulted in staff walkouts and empty pay packets, however the completion of this €40m Engineering Facility for NUI Galway has granted RMJM some positive press. The Scottish Studio worked in collaboration with Mayo-based Taylor Architects on the project.
Described by RMJM as ‘a teaching tool in itself’, the 14,250 sq m block displays its construction techniques externally and has been completed using a range of ecological building methods. Services pipes and ducting are exposed and labeled, enabling students to undertake active learning outside their classes, with live data streamed from a variety of sensors which monitor the energy consumption of the structure throughout the day.
In an unusual twist, sections of the building’s foundations and structural engineering have been unveiled so that tutors may use them as reference points during lessons. Similarly a range of green treatments are on show for educational gain, such as large-scale rainwater harvesting systems, a biomass boiler, low-embodied energy materials such as zinc, grass roofing, and heat exchangers. This teaching and research facility is the largest of its kind in Ireland with 400 rooms to accommodate 1,100 students and 110 staff who will study a plethora of innovative engineering concepts and cutting edge technologies.
As a reflection of this forward-thinking approach, RMJM have included voided slab systems in their design, with the NUI’s Engineering Facility among the first buildings in the country to employ such technology. The ‘plastic bubbles’ within concrete slabs reduce the weight and quantity of concrete used in construction. An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, who studied at the University in the mid-70s said: “This magnificent new building is a fine example of how the University is responding to the changing needs in today’s world. This new building begins a new era for engineering students here in Galway and will have far reaching impacts at local, national and international level.”