The university and the city is a theme we have been working on for many years and in different cities, Dublin and Limerick in Ireland and also in Milan, Toulouse, Lima, Paris and London.
We value the university as one of the few truly public spaces in contemporary society, full of civic potential.
Campus in Lima, Peru
Our project for the UTEC University in Lima, Peru investigates the idea of an university as an 'arena of learning'. Conceived as a man-made cliff, an inhabited infrastructure, with a series of cascading gardens, it seeks to establish a relationship with the life of the city, with the surrounding urban territory and with the bigger landscape of cliffs, Pacific Ocean and Andes mountains beyond.
The northern boundary of the site contains a busy road network. We see this northern boundary as the main façade of the project, visible from passing traffic, and it is the register of the new campus in the public mind. The south of the campus building cascades as a series of gardens and forms the access space connecting to the neighbourhood.
Large scale structure and consequential architectural spaces work together to form a new circulation landscape, allowing professors, students and staff to enjoy the pleasant climate of Lima. Sunlight animates the sections, while the overhangs provide solar shelter.
Campus of the University of Toulouse, France
In the historic city of Toulouse in France, positioned on a key site at the break in the historic city wall, at the turning of the Canal de Brienne, at the junction with the Garonne River, the location for the new Toulouse School of Economics is a pivotal one, both for the university and for the city. The form of the building inhales and exhales to create an open heart, a vertical courtyard of the 21st Century, from which the community of scholars can have a constant visual connection with their city.
Historically and intellectually, universities are the life-blood of Toulouse. We have made a composition of the re-interpreted elements of Toulouse: the buttresses, the walls, the ramps, the cool mysterious interiors, the cloisters and the courtyards.
The perimeter of the building changes to respond to adjacent conditions. The building 'prises open' to form framed views of key elements of the city skyline. The public entrance takes the visitor right into the heart of the building. The entry space is a forecourt space with a framed view of the sky formed by the cloister in the air.
Y.F. | S.M.
Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara co-founded Grafton Architects 1978. Graduated University College Dublin 1974. Fellows RIAI, Fellows RIBA, Adjutant Professors, School of Architecture, University College Dublin, Visiting Professors at EPFL, Lausanne 2010–2011, Professors Accademia di Archittettura, Mendrisio, Switzerland. The practice is involved in numerous university buildings in Ireland, United Kingdom, France, Italy and Peru.
Awards (selection): World Building of the Year Award, winners (2008), Mies Van Der Rohe Award, finalists (2009), Louis Kahn chair, Yale (2011), Medical School University of Limerick – Shortlisted Stirling Prize (2013), Silver Lion Award, Venice Biennale, winners (2012), Jane Drew Award, winners (2015).