Grand Canal Dock was traditionally the centre of Dublin’s shipping industry, but during economic downturns it suffered and became characterised by dilapidated warehouses. A re-development programme has since transformed Grand Canal Dock and now it is associated with state-of-the-art developments; a theme this project aims to uphold.
The proposed uses include a multi-disciplinary architectural practice, a retail unit and a coffee shop. The standard approach for a mixed-use building has been to separate and define its different uses; however this building aims to create integration, free movement and a sense of community.
Therefore, the driving concepts - transparency and interaction - have heavily influenced the design, creating an attractive, cutting edge building that promotes movement and social contact through the use of engaging focal areas and exciting circulation routes.
Mc Loughney believed this was essential to the success of the project, as it gave life to a building that had for so long been an empty, 'dead' warehouse.
This is an original project in its conception, due to the fact that very few old buildings in Ireland have been re-designed in this way. The traditional approach would be to subtly recreate and replace areas of the buildings that have fallen into disrepair, such as choosing building materials that mimic the existing in an attempt to show the building has been reinstated.
This project, however, intends to create a strong juxtaposition between the existing original and the new. In this way each highlights the other’s qualities and creates an exciting environment in which cutting edge modern architecture meets 19th-century Irish industrial architecture.
This project also aims to be innovative by pushing the boundaries of sustainable energy production in Ireland. 'River water cooling technology' will be incorporated, utilising water from the adjacent canal basin to refrigerate and cool, while a natural ventilation system will distribute fresh air throughout the building and the same system will warm the distributed air during the winter.
An existing south-facing roof pitch will house numerous solar panels which will provide the building’s warm air energy needs. A 'wet' rainwater collection system will also be utilised. Natural light is maximised during the day and solar charged lights will provide the evening and night lighting, making this building energy self-sufficient - a first in Irish commercial architecture.