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Learning Landscapes: Naul Agricultural College

Part 1 Project 2014
Sam Le Bas
University College Dublin Ireland
Naul is a small rural town on the outskirts of County Dublin. It has remained virtually uninterrupted since the beginning of the 20th century. Sitting still in time it comes across as a place reluctant for change. The brief demanded a complex range of programs including a library, learning spaces, lecture theatres, a café and practical workshops. The combined internal floor area of the building is approximately 3500m2, with further requirements for external spaces, tillage land, farmyards and gardens.

A main concern was to design a building that did not seem alien to the town of Naul, in its scale, construction and form. The building was conceived conceptually as a long form divided into two distinct volumes. A rigid concrete base and a multi faceted corten top. The long form leaves the rest of the site unobstructed. The distinct divided presented externally is contradicted by the double height concrete spaces found at the entrances. These tall spaces pull the building together vertically and divide the building internally. Camouflaged between the existing tree line and the orchard the sloping facets of the roof help the college sit inconspicuously within the landscape. The concrete base presents no openings along the front façade exhibiting itself as a strong monolithic slab, capable of handling the industrious activities taking place around the college. An entrance court divides the ground plan. This move separates the college from the public amenities and allows the public part of the building to function autonomously. The communal entrance court is in itself is a declaration of equality between the college and town. It is in essence a public space that promotes socializing and cross pollination amongst the students and the public. A wedge shape cut made in the upper volume assures a shaft of light will always
illuminate the college entrance.

The project seeks harmony between a contemporary building and a hidebound town. The building attempts to interweave itself with the existing fabric of Naul without disrupting the charisma the town has maintained for so long.

Sam Le Bas


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