Designed by McCullough Mulvin Architects
This Maritime Energy Research and National Ocean Testing Facility, located beside the Lower Harbour in Cork, Ireland, involves a tall element housing research spaces and a lower tank hall containing testing facilities. Conceived as a stone outcrop on the edge of the water, subject to the action of wind and sea, the plan form is driven by the size and relationship of the four testing tanks, used alternately still or agitated with paddle mechanisms and profiled floorplates to simulate wave action, coastal erosion, ocean floor modelling.
A large volume, long span space is required to facilitate a slow balletic movement of heavy lifting gantry cranes, instrument bridges, access gangways, suspended camera equipment, people and forklifts moving independently over each other and travelling along and across each tank – thus a series of 45m long trusses swing across the volume supporting a folded roof.
Workshops cluster along the east side of the tank hall, indented for natural ventilation like gills of a fish or barnacles on a rock outcrop, while larger indents give access for deliveries (east) and people (west). Research spaces are stacked to the sea, open to light and views northwards.
Continuing the indented nature of this addition on the edge of the Harbour, surfaces of the research tower are eroded deeply on north and east facades, analogous to the action of wind and water on driftwood, generating a series of indented planes on the elevation to the sea for windows and balconies.
The roof is geometrically resolved as a series of mathematically generated planes triangulated into different slopes, reflecting the Z-shaped swing of the trusses over the tanks mapped onto the fixed points of the workshops.
Tension between the folded form above and the captured volumes beneath present an oscillating rhythm, which intersects the serrated edges of the plan in a range of relationships.
Architect Firm: McCullough Mulvin Architects
Project Name: Beaufort Maritime and Energy Research Laboratory
Location: Lower Harbour, Ringaskiddy, Cork, Ireland
Area: 5,350 SQ.M.
Status: Completed in June 2015
Category: Research Labs
Photographs: Christian Richters, Ros Kavanagh, Magnaparte