A fascinating proposal for a Discovery Centre in Dublin’s Bull Island. Architect Maxime Laroussi explains to us the design process behind this creative building concept.
Bull Island Nature REserve
Bull Island is National Bird Sanctuary, a biosphere reserve, a National Nature Reserve, a Special Protection Area under the EU Birds Directive and a Special Area of Conservation under the EU Habitats Directive, while also being the subject of a Special Amenity Area Order.
The proximity of the site to the city creates significant pressure on its ecology. An ‘Ecology Axis’ runs from Raheny and St Annes Park across the causeway to the sea, and an ‘Axis of Recreational Activity’ is centered on the North Bull Wall, with the areas in between reserved for the protection of the flora and fauna particular to this special landscape.
The specific location of the Discovery Centre will facilitate the management infrastructure for the wetlands and the island. Providing for parking will also reduce vehicular access deeper onto the island.
Planning the Bull island discovery Centre
With the unique nature of the site and the delicate context of flora and fauna, it is essential that the building has a minimum footprint. Increasing the height of the building reduces the footprint, minimising ecological impact.
The height of the building also takes advantage of the full range of views of the landscape and wildlife in the immediate area and beyond, so that he visitor can learn through the 360 degree panorama.
360 degree learning
Views at entry level are dominated by the mudflats, the tidal plains and the sand dunes.
On the first floor slightly wider views emerge, the grass landscape, the manicured lawns of the golf course and the wetlands to either side of the causeway road.
On the second floor we are eight metres high and we can see the Irish sea and the water sports activities, swimmers and kite surfers. On the opposite side we see the maritime traffic in Dublin Harbour and Port as well as the village of Clontarf.
At twelve metres high, the third level enables vast views as far as Howth Head and Dun Laoghaire, and we can gaze down at a whole panaramic view of St Anne’s Park.
On the rooftop at sixteen metres above the earth, the entire of Dublin Bay is visible in one vast 360-degree panorama, with the Discovery Centre at the centre. The visitors can move between a series of cascading viewing decks and gardens inside and outside the building.