By Noel Brady (NJBA A+U)
The site is located in Dublin, Ireland.
The site is located in an area of medium density mix use urban environment within 2 kilometres of the city centre.
This particular site consisted of an existing single storey concrete framed retail unit with a roof car park overhead. The site is underutilised apart from the car park with two blind gables looking down on the space in between. This sliver site can be easily adopted for use as a residential use.
A lack of housing in the city and low density development means that citizens are forced outward to suburbs and dormitory towns, fuelling increase in CO2 emissions and long commutes. Crippled by inaction and an excess of vacant land and empty buildings there appears to be resistance to exploring other solutions.
A light timber framed CLT system of standardised panels with CLT floors is an ideal material and technology for occupying this space. By using the flat deck of the concrete roof (suitably reinforced) will allow a bolt on timber solution. Rising on the back of the concrete structure the new stacked system of full height CLT panels allows the creation of what Corbusier called “Vertical Sites”. On these “sites” it is possible to provide for a pair of twin 2 bed apartment units.
Rising above the street line a stepped plan and section shows how narrow sites can be occupied with minimal loss of light and air. With weights of at least ½ that of a comparable concrete superstructure the new design rises effortlessly above the squat 1 storey retail unit. The Retail unit is to be converted to a foyer for the new facilities providing a café and other communal services. Above this level is a social “garden” space for use by the residents. At the roof level of the new structure two additional social spaces are provided for the residents.
The new structure provides for 25 generous 2-bedroom apartments with natural cross ventilation and an open deck access to the central lift and stair core, for necessary fire protection. The external skin is to be unfinished aluminium panel rain screen over insulation becoming a beacon in the environment for a new vertical city. The tall roof elements that cover the social spaces are also ideal for using PV panels to generate some of the energy necessary for the building’s operation.
The system of construction using large numbers of repetitive elements allows for an economical solution and a rapid build.
As a demonstration into the ability of CLT and lightweight timber construction this illustrates how existing environments can be maintained while providing for a necessary increase in density using new CO2 Energy reducing technologies.