The National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) has been a centre for teaching and research in engineering since 1849. The new Engineering Building now houses the five departments of civil, electronic, industrial, engineering hydrology and mechanical and biomedical engineering under one roof.
Opened in July 2011, the development includes heavy and light laboratories, offices, teaching space and lecture theatres. Situated on the banks of the river Corrib, the building was designed to complement the curves of Galway’s most famous river.
The four-storey architectural gem and its 400 rooms accommodate some 1,100 students and 110 staff. The 14,600m² building supports an emerging generation of engineers, engaged in a new wave of technologies, embracing innovation and entrepreneurship.
An educational tool
The overall design of the building has been driven by sustainability objectives to achieve a `state of the art´ educational building. This design principle has been carried through in the choice of a suitable structural scheme for the project. The main criteria for the assessment of the structural solutions were cost effectiveness, compatibility with building finishes, ease of construction, sustainability and market availability.
The scheme also reflects the requirement to maintain maximum flexibility for future use of the building, ensuring that internal re-planning can be easily incorporated. One of the key objectives for the new building is to act as an educational tool where possible through its fabric and systems, encompassing as many of the engineering disciplines to be housed in the new building as possible.
One of the key objectives for the project was that the building itself would act as an exemplary design of sound engineering principles and practices. To this end, the design team produced a design that reflected a number of engineering principles both in form, function and material choice. The architectural and engineering language of the building with ‘cluster columns’, ‘floating structure’ and exposed services challenges the student and visitor to engage in and to understand the engineering principles behind the building’s design.