Marine Institute Headquarters
The site for this purpose-built headquarters and laboratory building at Rinville, Oranmore, Co. Galway, affords a highly impressive coastal location overlooking Galway Bay. Most importantly it offers access to high quality salt water for laboratory research. The design seeks to give value for money not just in terms of capital costs but also in terms of life cycle cost and it has achieved a blend between the building design and landscape. The building was delivered on time and within budget by the Office of Public Works on behalf of the Marine Institute.
In developing a design concept appropriate to the Marine Institute's statutory role and to its special site at Rinville, a variety of issues were researched and analysed including:
The fruits of the extensive co-operation between the OPW, the Chief Executive of the Marine Institute Dr Peter Heffernan, his management team and staff can be seen in the specially developed laboratory design. This meets with Inter-national Laboratory Accreditation Standards and proposed EU directives. It provides a safe and stimulating working environment, and allows for flexibility over time. The laboratories are significantly more cost effective when compared with similar facilities in other countries.
The laboratory element of the building is designed around a landscaped courtyard while the support facilities element takes its curved shape from the swirling dynamics of water. All the public facilities and communal staff spaces are adjacent to the entrance. The library is in a prominent position suitable to its institutional and public role while the dining area has views to both the crescent courtyard and the wider Galway Bay landscape. The conference space is designed as a special space suitable to its function as a place for the exchange of knowledge. Disabled access is provided throughout the building. The organic type design approach permits flexibility yet maintains identity.
Natural materials such as limestone and timber are used for reasons of site suitability, lifecycle costs and sustainability. The landscape design attempts to acknowledge its institutional and functional role while at the same time achieve a synthesis with its landscape setting. In short, a building which is informed by, and interacts with its site, brief, function and institutional role but is mindful of its landscape setting, yet contemporary and of its own time.
The 10,500 m2 building is mainly a two-storey building. The architectural expression of the different building elements provides a variety of massing and scale.
The laboratory courtyard and support facilities crescent have a similar structural grid support system thereby providing a common rhythm which is then adjusted to the specifics of their respective different functions and plan shapes. The building, by virtue of sub-dividing itself into three parts, provides a building that is incremental in scale; its dimensions are intended to relate to the building functions; and are human in scale and relative proportion.
Where possible the Golden Section proportioning system has been used. It has some remarkable algebraic and geometric properties that account for its existence in architecture as well as in the structure of living organisms. This approach helps create a synthesis between the building and landscape design.
The Marine Institute is the national agency for marine research, technology, development and innovation. Its mission is to assess and realise the economic potential of Ireland's 900 million hectare marine resource, to promote sustainable development of the Marine Institute through strategic funding programmes and essential scientific services, and to safeguard that resource through research and environmental monitoring.
Architects: Architectural Services Office of Public Works