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Serjeant Award

Dublin: National Performing Arts Centre

Part 1 Project 1998
Peggy Chan
University of Liverpool Liverpool UK
15 postcards define my initial and personal response to the city, the site and the programme; their production helped to generate my structural concept of the project, a sequence of infill components linked by a journey experiencing a continuous process of changing scale in time and space. The site and its context, the River Liffey, are treated as both cultural corridor and as metaphors of time and space. The expression of such metaphors is achieved through spatial qualities and use of materials. Levels of different height, depth and width allow an exploration of changing scale. Once a journey begins within a space, time naturally falls in and forms an item. The use of different materials expresses the relationship between the reality and the implications of the concept: solid represents space; illusion and transparency represent time. The form of the building is generated from observation of water movement; discrete and dynamic reflections are developed as planes. It represents two waterways (the entrance and dance studios), which converge into a powerful calmness (the auditorium). Their torrential energies create a force of attraction to draw attention from the city centre and the east. The main entrance brings movement under different height canopies to enhance the continuous progress of changing scale. Here we find the entrance into the auditorium, reaching calm after excitement. The floating dance studios share a space with the library but both functions are in two individual components, linked only by landscape which brings movement through closed, semi-opened, to opened space. The landscape acts as noise protection while responding to the existing topographical context. Below is a car park, from which light leaks, filtering through the flowing land, revealing the landscape at night. Dichotomies of movement exist between the site’s man-made elements and the natural flow of water. The building responds to these dynamic elements and develops a sensory experience. The shifted nature of the landscape further emphasises the dynamism of the site’s contrasting qualities.
Peggy Chan


Peggy approached the project in a very measured way and responded to each stage of the design development process in an intuitive manner, rather than being overly analytical. Her perceptions of the country, the city and the site led her to focus on the idea of performance as a journey through the building rather than merely an activity taking place in a designated theatre space.
The strong influence of water as design dynamic is displayed in her use of form and greatly affects the building evelope and its positioning on the site. She has tried to explore the quality of light that might be achieved in the internal spaces using a series of models and sketches: she has an intimate understanding of how every space is internally perceived at various times of the day.

What was interesting to me as a tutor was Peggy’s total immersion in the design process and how her commitment spread to fellow students, influencing their approach not just to this specific project but to design in general. Peggy was at the forefront of the class at every stage of the scheme competition and presented herself very well to the judging panel in Dublin; she also later gave a presentation to the school on her work. Peggy has grown in confidence and maturity this year and I hope that her totally involved approach to design will be rewarded by recognition in the RIBA awards.

1998
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