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Agricultural School and Model Farm in The Naul, Co. Fingal, Ireland

Part 1 Project 2014
James Barry
University College Dublin Dublin Ireland
Naul is a unique place. It is a small historic village with a picturesque landscape that retains fragments from different stages of development which reflect its geological and agricultural history. Located in a valley, Naul’s undulating landscape together with the ruins of castles and the landmark Westown House makes for very beautiful scenery. Naul is a place of culture and scenic beauty and this hidden country gem feels somewhat disconnected from nearby Dublin. My proposed scheme seeks to be respectful of the landscape and its design aims to emulate the concept of natural beauty through simplicity in form, structure and materiality.

Three simple forms make up my agricultural college. Extending out from the thick cluster of trees is the main educational facility; the social hub of the college. Views of the greater landscape, including the distant mountains and the ruins of Westown House can be enjoyed, capturing the essence of Naul and the Irish countryside. Maintaining a direct relationship to nature and the immediate context is also achieved through this long simple form.

The design of this building has a primary focus on increasing social interaction throughout the facility. The gradual upward movement through a series of social spaces leading to the café/shop allows for more opportunities for interaction and chance encounters. Through talking and sharing experiences with teachers and students from other years and disciplines, we are able to learn and explore new, unfamiliar subjects leading to new possibilities and ideas.

An agricultural college serves a dual purpose as it is a school but also a farm and it is the farming element that makes it unique from other colleges. With this in mind, I took inspiration from the many farm building that are dotted across the Irish landscape.

One characteristic that is common between all farmyard architecture is that sense of durability and robustness. Concrete and steel are popular materials for their strength and resistance to weather. Retaining elements of the farmyard vernacular provides the building with agricultural characteristics allowing its occupants to engage with the agricultural world as well as reflecting the historical farming background of Naul.

James Barry


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