The Printmaking Workshop is located along the pedestrianised St Brendan’s Way, where the fringe of the new TU Dublin Grangegorman Campus meets the industrial landscape of the former Broadstone Railway Station and Bus Depot.
Printmaking was originally part of the brief for the recently completed School of Creative Arts East Quad development. However, during the course of that project, the scope was adjusted and the Printmakers were slated to stay on as a satellite in the North House in the centre of the Campus, while the remainder of their School migrated to the new East Quad building on St Brendan’s Way. When the North House then became earmarked for development as the new Academic Hub and Library, Printmaking again found itself in need of a temporary home. Eventually it is intended that Printmaking will find a permanent home within the future expansion of the East Quad.
The Printmaking Workshop was therefore at first potentially destined to be provided in modular cabins, as part of an impartial and unbiased options appraisal undertaken for all Capital Projects. During the early stages of our research, our team demonstrated better value for money with a purpose-built, well-lit, robust and flexible solution also offering a multitude of future uses. Notwithstanding the economic benefits, a fit-for-purpose environment would offer significant gains for the end-users, the University campus and a significant social dividend for the local communities.
A short delivery programme demanded forms of construction that were readily available, commonplace, simple to build and familiar to the industry to ensure competitive interest from a range of Contractors at the small to medium scale.
The structure comprises repetitive steel frame trusses on columns using standard steel section sizes enveloped in built-up layers of low-cost thin metal liner sheets, thick mineral wool insulation and corrugated steel cladding normally used on rapid-build industrial buildings. A focus on an economy of means and an attention to the external edges of the building lends it a precision and refinement not normally associated with these building types. Internally we developed construction details which were limited in number, unsophisticated but purposeful. Subtle spatial characters such as the truss bottom chords, caryatid-like UC columns, moveable walls on castors and a fully glazed Admin annex to the south produce nodal points and overlapping room-like divisions within a simple enclosure. The Workshop was not intended as a representation or pastiche of an industrial space. Instead, we were searching for a place of specific character, a place for production, a place to be robustly engaged with and altered.
The saw-tooth roof form is orientated optimally, with three fully glazed north lights and south facing sloped roofs hosting a full array of 40 photovoltaic panels on the southernmost bay. Under the three central bays is the large naturally lit main workshop for non-chemical processes, whilst acid etching and aquatinting, requiring controlled environments, take place in smaller technical rooms adjoining the workshop to the north and south.
The distinctive building edges itself on to the pedestrian St Brendan’s Way opposite the entrance to the East Quad which links the campus to Broadstone Luas stop. This prominent location allows street life to quite literally slice through university life. From St Brendan’s Way full height windows allow views deep into the Workshop. It means that the hands-on nature of the student and staff work — increasingly rare in the current tilt to virtual means of communication — is on show constantly.