An agricultural college and training facility in the heart of a dormant Irish market town
School of Architecture, Planning & Environmental Policy
University College Dublin
Challenging contemporary Irish planning, this project investigates placing an agricultural college and adult training facility, not on the periphery of a sensitive heritage town, but stitched into the grain of its dormant centre. It envisions a more progressive future for the town – breathing life and learning into its heart, which becomes an integrated hybrid of both landscape and urban condition. The everyday experience is both revitalized and regressed to a state familiar from Trim’s past.
Instead of separating the general public from the day to day running of the college, the architecture welcomes the outsider to meander safely through the series of buildings and gardens from the newly pedestrianised Market Street through to a riverside public space. The wealth of the land, the history and the future of the town is celebrated once more.
The market town
The market town was once an integral part of life in rural Ireland. Not only did it serve as an important commercial opportunity for local traders, but also as an essential social event for the townspeople and those of surrounding rural areas. In Trim, this was held every Sunday on the main street, Market Street, which until the late 70's saw the street closed once a week for selling anything from fruit and vegetables to livestock or crafts.
The flat arable land surrounding the town's strategic location - between two areas of elevated ground on the banks of the river Boyne - led to the development of a wealthy medieval stronghold, which is still apparent today in the multitude of medieval ruins dotted throughout the town.
This wealthy history allowed a large swathe of land to be protected from modern development creating a unique town plan where the center is pinched by the Porch Field to the East, and a similarly sized underdeveloped area to the West - currently a brownfield.
The project proposes using this brownfield site next to the river as the working land for the college.
Land remediation &
Using a series of reed beds the pathway between the formal and working college campuses would be linked by a pathway surrounded by vegetation.
The same concept would be used for wastewater generated by the farm and greenhouses, and would be pumped using hydroelectricity generated by the river.
The ground floor plan includes a cookery school opening onto a kitchen garden, animal and equipment demonstration arenas, a theater, a rowing clubhouse and student accommodation, all centering around the double-height dining hall. On the upper levels are the classrooms, laboratories and public gallery in the converted bakery building.
The facilities would cater to full and part time students of the college, as well as connect with local primary and secondary schools to expand their curricula and extend their pupils' engagement to the greater community.
The general public are welcome to interact with the activities of the college, facilitated by the use of colored concrete core pathways - inspired by the massive nature of the medieval ruins - from which the individual buildings stem.
The dining hall would serve as the great hall - a gathering place of people from all side's of the college's life. This would become a constantly living public space in the town - somewhere anyone could go at any time to eat, to meet a friend or simply just to sit overlooking a public square by the river.